You heard it here first: I don’t know what I’m doing.
Yep, I really don’t. I have some pretty strong beliefs about what methods work and lots of evidence that they work; however, to be honest, I don’t know much about anything. To me, “know” is just code for “believe very strongly.” And I stay open to the possibility that my beliefs will shift and, as I work on myself and with others, that my understanding of what is most effective will continue to evolve. So, if yer lookin’ for the Final Answer, you’ll need to look elsewhere. I commit to give you my very best, and if my understanding of what is best shifts, what I tell you here and in my practice will also shift.
Here’s another one: I write a blog that deals extensively with self-judgment. I speak with authority on the issue. I help others beat self-judgment. I even get paid to do it. And yet, I still judge myself.
Does this make me a hypocrite? Am I like a therapist who works with patients struggling with eating disorders while myself secretly binging and purging? Or a pointy-fingered televangelist who indulges in the same “sins” he so energetically denounces in others?
No, I don’t think it makes me a hypocrite. It makes me an expert. Because I don’t hide it, I don’t judge my judging, and I don’t wallow in it. I use the very tools that I advocate to others to work my way through my self-judgments. I know the tools work, because they have worked (and continue to work) for me.
Also, I don’t think of self-judgment negatively, like a chronic illness. Rather, it’s my valued teacher. One of the keys to overcoming self-judgment is to make friends with it, even to feel gratitude for it. That might sound counter-intuitive, but it’s an important point. Judging ourselves is a way that we try to take care of ourselves, because we have been well-schooled as a culture in the importance of using unhappiness as a tool to motivate ourselves to change.
I don’t think it’s an especially effective tool, but it can be the stimulus and the portal to complete transformation if we approach it with gentleness and curiosity.
And that, in my book, is something to be grateful for.