Of Course You Did: A Tool To Stop Judging Yourself
Judging others is part and parcel of the codependent, perfectionist and people-pleasing way of being. Because we source our worth externally not from within ourselves, we are so scared of being judged by others, because in our unmanaged minds their opinion of us is more important than our opinion of us. So we judge everyone else harshly because we fear that they will judge us harshly. We want to get ahead of that possible pain by pre-rejecting them before they can even form an opinion about us, lest actually reject or judge us!
We get into this thought habit where judgement is our go-to, it becomes the way we see the world.
Judgey thoughts become our norm, like: eww, why is she wearing that; they are so loud, what’s wrong with them; he is so rude — he never says good morning at work.
When the cassette tape in our mind is set to judging the world, of course we judge ourselves doubly harshly. The more we can see ourselves out in the world, practicing acceptance and releasing that desire to judge others so we can attempt to feel better about ourselves, the more it gets written into our psyches, wired into us as a new narrative for life:
- It is safe for me to drop the judgement and to accept other people, just as they are.
- I don’t have to condone their choices or approve of them. In fact, it’s not my business to even have an opinion about other people’s lives and choices!
- I can accept that other humans will make the right choices for themselves. I don’t have to try to fix, manipulate, change or save them. That’s not my job.
- My job is to love and accept them from my big open heart.
One of my favorite ways of shifting into acceptance with the people, places and things in our lives is using the tool “of course they did.”
This tool is fabulous, a fan-favorite in fact, because it gives us a way to recognize when we are in fantasy. When we want the world to be different than it is because we believe that that will make us feel safe in our own lives. But it’s never true.
You get to feel okay regardless of what other people say, think and do.
When you are anchored in yourself, when you have your own back and get real about what is, then you stop wasting your own time and energy judging others, judging the world, wanting to change the unchangeable. Instead, you can focus on the things you can influence, impact and shift. From this place of refocusing your energy on you, then you can make choices for your life, your mental and physical health, your joy, your wellness.
By accepting what is and then deciding how you want to relate to those facts. For example, if you’re constantly judging your partner, constantly criticizing them in your mind or out loud, constantly disappointed they didn’t read your mind, often resentful, how can you really tell if you want to stay with that person or if you’re just judging from an avoidant default mode? Right?! It’s challenging to tease that apart without the cognitive distance that thought work brings.
So to use “of course they did” what you start to do is to get facty on it, to state the facts in a neutral way, without adjectives, descriptors or judgement.
That can sound like:
- Of course he didn’t do the dishes when he said he would, that’s not new or normal or noteworthy, I don’t need to waste my energy by buffering with shock, surprise or annoyance (because that’s what judging is too, it’s buffering against the feelings you don’t want to acknowledge and feel).
- Of course they forgot to call when they were running late, they generally don’t remember to do that, that is a fact of loving them.
- Of course she didn’t put the toilet seat down after she peed, she generally doesn’t remember to do that, that is a fact of loving her.
From there, from starting to accept the facts versus fighting for other people to be different in ways they may not want to ever be, you get to take ownership of your own life, to state what does and doesn’t work for you, and to decide for reals and for you if you want to stay or go, have a conversation about limits and boundaries, make moves for your own life.
I use a similar tool for myself and my clients to help us to stand in the truth of our lives, to stop wishing we were different and to start to reclaim our sense of self.
We learn to drop the judgement, step into acceptance and get real about our own habits, survival skills and ways of being.
Then we can decide if we want to change our habits from a place of agency and empowerment, from wanting to, not from obligation, and certainly not because someone else wants you to change. This magnificent tool is: of course I did.
My path to finally being ok with the fact that I’m not for everyone included learning to say: Of course I did, and owning it versus chronically disavowing myself.
Because being mean to me or you being mean to you hasn’t led to the change we want to see in life, has it? Sure never did for me! The more I judged me, the more stuck in my old thought habits and patterns I was — heels dug in, dedicated, without even realizing it, to the story that I was the worst and thus, not even worth the effort to try to change.
So we get to drop that BS story that self-flagellation leads to change cause it’s just that: a BS old cassette tape in your mind, a thought and certainly not a fact. We get behaviour-change quite backwards most of the time.
The story in our minds often goes that in order to do something differently, we need to feel bad about it and ourselves, make ourselves bad and wrong, be penitent about how we’ve been doing it. Get all moralistic on ourselves and suffer because we are a certain unacceptable way, Imagining that going eight rounds in the boxing ring with ourselves is the thing that will make us shape up and show up as some magical unicorn perfect-and-uncriticizable version of ourselves. We step into deep perfectionism and continue to be so mean to ourselves!
Our codependent thought habits take us to where they love to go — all or nothing thinking. We tell the story that we either show up perfectly or we are abject failures. Worthless humans because we goofed once again. We are the actual worst human dumpster fires not worthy of love, care, kindness from anyone, so we certainly don’t give that to ourselves.
Then the real throwdown MMA-style battle begins as we judge ourselves for what we did and then extra judge ourselves for judging ourselves because we totally know we shouldn’t be judging and then we judge ourselves for shoulding on ourselves and it’s just friggin endless.
Slow your roll for a hot minute.
Being mean to you never led to sustainable change! Because science! Going into fight or flight with yourself isn’t exactly going to lead to change. Ventral vagal is a much kinder and more effective place to start!
What if you decided to bring in self love.
To say “of course I did that because that was what I knew how to do in the moment — that’s what I was capable of doing.”
What if then you pause, hand on your heart if that feels supportive, and get real with yourself: ask yourself why it makes total logical sense that you did that thing. Reminding yourself that we are all just works in progress, we are all just mammaling along trying to do this human life the best we can, today, given the skills and experiences you have.
- Of course I got defensive because defensiveness was modelled for me in childhood and I want to learn a different way.
- Of course I raised my voice because I didn’t know how to bring somatic practices in to regulate my nervous system and I want to learn a different way.
- Of course I was anxiously attached in that dating scenario and texted from that anxiety because I didn’t know how to be secure in myself yet and I want to learn a different way.
- Of course I was avoidantly attached when I was dating them and didn’t return their texts for three days because I grew up with so much anxious attachment that connection feels suffocating, and I didn’t know how to be secure in myself yet and I want to learn a different way.
Get curious my love!
Start from self loving, compassionate understanding, from embodied curiosity, curiosity that truly just wants to know what is up, without judgement.
Of course you did.
Of course I did too.
Drop the story, from mind, body and spirit, that you should have done it any differently so you can get real around how you showed up and why.
You likely did whatever you did because you didn’t know how to manage your mind in that moment. How to get neutral about the C, how to identify that habitual codependent, people pleasing, perfectionist T that got into your mind from your family blueprint, your conditioning, your socialization. You didn’t know how to identify and process the feeling that came from that thought through your body, how to connect somatically with the sensations that arise along with that feeling, so you took action and created a result in your own life that you might not like or want to repeat.
And it’s okay.
Judging yourself for it changes nothing.
Wishing it was different changes nothing.
Owning it, accepting it, getting real with it, doing thought work and somatic practices around it opens up your internal capacity. The capacity within your nervous system to do it differently next time and to apologize now if you need and want to. To own it and show up with self trust to truly have your own back and to mean it. To be your own best friend, your own most loving parent to your perfect inner children, to learn and grow, to evolve and change, to step into your power to be kind to you, while being firm and loving, and to create and allow the space to do it differently next time.
Of course you did, baby.
Of course I did too.
We were doing the best we could with the skills we had, and judging us for our past mistakes, our recent eff ups does nothing to change the past, present or future.
Instead, my darling, try on being compassionate with you. Choosing kindness. Listen, it sure can’t hurt, and it’s worth a try. It might just help you actually love yourself enough to find the motivation to make change without being your own worst enemy.