“That shouldn’t have happened.”

“What a jerk.”

“I totally screwed up.”

“I am a total screw-up.”

All of these statements are judgments, and all of them have the power to ruin your life if you let them.

Does that sound overly dramatic? If so, then it’s time to get acquainted with the true nature of judgments.

If you’re like most people, you have judgments like the ones above running across the screen of your mind all of the time. It’s kind of like the CNN-style ticker tape, a constant verbal commentary that seems outside of your control.

Yet very few people ever stop to analyze the 24/7 ticker tape of judgments inside of their heads. They don’t question where they came from, or whether or not they’re accurate.

In this post, we’ll explore the nature of judgments, how they connect to addiction and are core to holistic addiction treatment, and how you can let go of them and embrace greater freedom on all four levels of self.


What Are Judgments?

Judgments are mental beliefs that we hold against ourselves, others, events, and concepts. They are our mind’s way of labeling things, which tends to be binary: good or bad, right or wrong.

Judgments come from various sources, including society, family, teachers, peers, and personal experiences.

How can you identify a judgment quickly and easily? As a general rule, the conditional case in grammar – statements that involve the words should, could, and would – indicate judgment.

Judgments are Subjective

The key point to remember about judgments is that they are not objective, but subjective. Judgments are based in our particular perspectives, our unique experience of life.

Two people can look at the very same event and have dramatically different reactions.

For example, one person could see a newborn baby boy for the first time and think, “How terrible; this child has a lifetime of pain and suffering in front of him.”

Another person could see the same baby at the same time and think, “How wonderful; this child has a lifetime of joy and miracles in front of him.”

How Are Judgments and Addiction Linked?

Judgments and addiction are linked this way:

  1. Unquestioned and unreleased judgments cause us mental and emotional pain. We cling to our harsh mental stories – “He hurt me,” “It shouldn’t have happened,” “I’m all alone,” – and replay them over and over in our minds until they feel like facts.
  2. After we’ve spent enough time with our unquestioned judgments, we lose our sense of center, our feeling of peace and connectedness.
  3. We don’t like the experience of being in mental and emotional pain, so we use substances as a way of managing our lives. We drink and take drugs, or engage in other forms of addictive behavior.
  4. We form more judgments surrounding ourselves and our addictive behavior.
  5. We develop more mental and emotional pain.
  6. Again, we turn to substances for relief. This completes the addictive cycle.


How to Let Go of Judgments Against Ourselves

Letting go of judgments is an un-learning process. We created our judgments, so we alone have the power to undo them.

The first step is to center ourselves in our loving hearts, then set an intention to identify and release our judgments.

The next step is to identify our judgments against ourselves. This is relatively straightforward; we can just look at an area of our lives where we have upset, and notice the “should, would, could” statements that arise!

(Note that for now, we’re just working with judgments against ourselves; in next week’s post, we’ll talk about projections, and how to work with our judgments of others.)

The third step is for us to go to a place of unconditional love within ourselves. From there, we accept and forgive the part of us that is judging.

A helpful framework is: “I forgive myself for judging myself as _____________ {enter your judgment here: wrong, selfish, bad, etc}, and the truth is _________________.”

In the second blank, you listen for the voice of unconditional love, and write down what it says.

Often, what comes up is, “The truth is that I was doing the best I could.” And how can you blame yourself for doing the best you could do at the time? You can’t. By definition, you couldn’t have done better than your best. You couldn’t have known better until you knew better!

This exercise might sound straightforward, but if you try it, you’ll see how powerfully freeing it can be. The Principles of Spiritual Psychology state it beautifully: “Judgment is self-condemnation. Self-forgiveness is freedom.”