Our true nature is love. But at some point in our life, usually in childhood, some external event causes us to separate from that true nature. That separation from love creates in us feelings of specialness or inadequacy, leading to loneliness and as a result, fear. So we project it outward in the form of judgment.
We know we are loving, interconnected beings, but in our separation we live in a dream state, shutting off our connection to our loving truth. This separation establishes the ego’s perception of a false self based on judgment. We grow to believe deeply in the false perception of ourselves in order to feel safe in the world of separation.
Deep down, and without realizing it, we judge ourselves for separating from our truth, leading us to feel ashamed and guilty. That unconscious guilt is so painful that we have no choice but project it outward in an effort to end our suffering. By projecting judgment onto others, we deny and repress our feelings of guilt. Subconsciously, this makes us feel even more guilty because we know this judgment is not who we really are. The guilt we feel from judging others is then projected right back onto ourselves, and the vicious cycle beings again. This the judgment cycle.
I cannot overstate this: Judgement is the number one reason we feel blocked, sad and alone. Our popular culture and media place enormous value on social status, looks, racial and religious separation and material wealth. We are made to feel less than, separate, and not good enough, so we use judgment to insulate ourselves from the pain of feeling inadequate, insecure or unworthy. It’s easier to make fun of, write off or judge someone for a perceived weakness of theirs than it is to examine our own sense of lack.
Judgment is an addictive pattern.
Judgement is an addiction response to deep-rooted trauma. The first trauma is the separation from love. From a spiritual perspective, choosing fear and separation over love dissociates us from our truth. We become fragmented in this state of separation and lose our connection to our inner being. In this disconnected state, we inadvertently turn our back on our inner being and become obsessed with an outward projection of who we think we are. Feelings of guilt and sadness wash over us, because deep down, we know we’ve turned our back on love. But we can’t fully understand our guilt, so we do whatever we can to avoid feeling it. This is how the cycle of judgment becomes and addictive pattern.
When we avoid our guilt and suffering by projecting it onto others, it’s a way of numbing out. Like any good drug, judgment will anesthetize our pain and redirect our focus. It can even get us high. Gossip is a great example. Whenever you get together with friends to talk about another person in a judgmental way, you’re avoiding your own core wounds. You’re using judgment as a drug to numb your own pain and get high on someone else’s. Gossip is especially nasty because it gives us the illusion that we’re bonding with others, when instead we’re just banding together to heap all our pain onto another person.
Gossiping can give us a buzz because it provides temporary relief from self-judgment and attack. We repeat a self-judgmental story on a loop all day long: I’m not good enough. Why did I make that mistake? I’m ugly. I’m not smart enough. And so on. All these self-inflicted behaviors are just another form of addiction. We unconsciously choose to judge rather than feel the pain beneath our wounds.
Related: How I Learned to Love the Real Me
But notice I said that our self-judgmental story is played on a loop. That’s because it leads nowhere! Getting on the path to healing requires us to feel the discomfort—but we’re way too scared to go there, so instead we gossip or judge ourselves as the victim feels safer than facing our wounds. This I show self-judgment becomes an addiction.
The addictive pattern is further fueled by our denial. We long to feel better but deny that judgement is the problem. In fact, we see judgment as the solution, as a way of protecting ourselves. Our unconscious belief system keeps us stuck in the judgment cycle because we’re terrified of facing our own pain and suffering. We use judgment to protect ourselves from exposing our deepest wounds.
The repetition of judgment is habit-forming. If you repeat a behavior over and over, you strengthen your neural pathways. In time that behavior becomes second nature. The more you repeat the pattern of judgment, the more you believe in it. You create your reality with the thoughts you repeat and the beliefs that you align with. When judgment is your belief system, you’ll always feel unsafe, under attack and defensive. If you’re going to change the habit of judgment you need to change your core belief system. Our aim is to find our way back home—to find our way back to love.
Related: The Secret to Happiness Is Just Love
From Judgment Detox by Gabrielle Bernstein. Copyright © 2018 by Gabrielle Bernstein, Inc. Reprinted by permission of North Star Way, an Imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Gabrielle Bernstein is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Universe Has Your Back, and has written five additional bestsellers. She was featured on Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday as a “next-generation thought leader,” and The New York Times named her “a new role model.” She appears regularly as an expert on The Dr. Oz Show and co-hosted the Guinness World Record largest guided meditation with Deepak Chopra.
Gabrielle is a regular guest on The Dr. Oz Show and has contributed to or been featured in media outlets such as SuperSoul Sunday, Today, CNN, Home & Family, Fox & Friends, PBS, Kathie Lee and Hoda, Access Hollywood, OWN’s Help Desk, The New York Times Sunday Styles section, Teen Vogue, ELLE, InStyle, Marie Claire, Health, SELF, Women’s Health, Glamour, The Sunday Times UK, People, The Wall Street Journal, The Thrive Global podcast, Lewis Howes’ School of Greatness, Bulletproof Radio and many more. Gabrielle has also been on the covers of Experience Life and Self-Made magazines; the latter named her one of the top 50 women in business.
In January 2018 Gabrielle launched her sixth book, Judgment Detox: Release the Beliefs that Hold You Back from Living a Better Life.