In the book “Soul without Shame” written by Byron Brown he describes excellently how to liberate yourself from the judge within.
When I came to read this book I had arrived at a place in my life where I needed desperately to understand the source and causes of my own unhappiness.
Byron Brown impresses on his readers the importance of recognising self judgement because as he puts it “Self-Judgement is perhaps the greatest source of inner suffering and discontent” as a result of which “our capacity to change and grow and expand and transform ourselves are severely limited”
My coach recommended this book to me as as part of an attempt to continue an unfolding story of self awareness in my life. In my experience of suppressing my sexuality throughout 25 years of marriage I had lost also my capacity to accept that all of me was a valid part of self and needed to be expressed in the world without fear.
I undertook some exercises each day in which I recorded the times I had made judgments about myself and also where I had made judgments about others – these were numerous and surprising and many of them were thoughts that I had almost routinely of the virtues and more often than not criticisms that I had towards myself and others.
The judgments I had about others were often quite two-faced because on the surface I was perhaps displaying signs of respect and cordiality whilst inside I was thinking “what an arsehole you are”
The problem with expressing inner thoughts whilst not confronting the issue with the other truthfully is that eventually the failure to be true washes back as a judgement again on self. My coach said that to resent another in secret is like taking a poison and hoping someone else will die.
An excellent blog written by Justin Wise once referred to liberating ourselves from those whom we might despise by trying for a day to think the exact polar opposite of them – I tried this and it was profoundly amusing because in its strangeness it pointed a strong light on the futility of my thought judgments on others.
In recognising the judgement I make on others I try hard by living in the present to get underneath the nature of my judgement on them and then try to work out whether a dialogue or some other response from me would work towards addressing those differences – this takes time and should not be a knee-jerk action to put something right – but something that is true and honest and thought through carefully to improve the relationship.
Self Judgement for me as a devout Catholic got caught up in my life with conscience and shame and sacramental confession. I have spent many years being extremely hard on myself and this self rejection has damaged family relationships with my parents, siblings, my wife and daughters whom all love me.
Through recognising the judgments I made on myself that my sexuality was to be rejected as something sinful and wrong and a burden and a cross heavier even than the cross of Christ I made myself a victim of my own deep seated fear and anxiety.
I suffered terribly and came to the point in my life when I had to express my truth. In doing so I have liberated myself from fear to acceptance – more importantly than acceptance is self-acceptance and as Byron Brown says I have discovered that life changing capacity for expansion.
So I recognise in the present that I can be Catholic and gay and I can also be married and gay and I am aware now of being very much loved and gay.
This morning I was dancing on my own around the kitchen – my wife came in and said to me through laughing eyes “you’re weird” – I loved her open judgement so much – fear in the present is defeated – the judge has been liberated – and I kissed her and said “I don’t care because all of me is present to you and I don’t have to live in shadow anymore”
If you are unhappy, liberate yourself from the judge and celebrate your truth in self acceptance and freedom – you don’t have to dance but I’ll wager a bet that you’ll want to when you’re done!
My next blog will be: Stephanie