“For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them. – Thich Nhat Hanh
A hallmark of a great friend is non-judgement. You can tell them anything without fear they will critique you or your opinions and experiences. Sure, they may offer you words of advice you don’t want to hear – but may need to! – yet, those words come from a place of encouragement and guidance. Many of us have those people in our lives that we can be completely open with. We don’t fear being authentic with them.
Are you one of those people for yourself?
Have you ever heard someone say this: “I’m my own worst critic.” You likely have. It’s even probable that you’ve said this about yourself! I’ve certainly said this on many occasions. When someone says they are their own worst critic, it’s likely a cover for “I don’t think I am good enough.” It’s a defense mechanism used to blunt the inner self doubt with misplaced logic. If I am my own worst critic, no one else can hurt me.
This line of thinking is fundamentally flawed. We try to protect ourselves from outside forces, but in doing so, we conversely attack our own inner citadel. We are invaded and defeated by a Trojan Horse we built and filled with soldiers only to allow it admittance through our own walls.
I conducted an interview with Karlyn Borysenko in which she described non-judgement in the following way:
“Being non-judgmental is about resisting the inclination to immediately judge things going on around you as good or bad, right or wrong, better or wrong. By reserving judgment, you can explore different possibilities and perspectives and choose the ones that best serve your goals.”
“Immediately judge things going on around you as good or bad…” As I reread that line she shared with me, it all started to make sense!
I recently had the luck of working with an executive coach. We’ve been focusing a lot on the concept of strengths and weaknesses. He noted that while we conversed, I had a tendency to focus on my weaknesses and downplay my strengths. He told me, I’d use a lot of “qualifiers” when talking about my strengths and positive things that were happening.
“I did well, but…”
“This was a good thing, though…”
“The discuss was a really awesome one, however….”
Qualifiers like “but,” “though,” and “however” are used to negate everything that comes before them. So, in an essence, I was judging the entire experience as bad, even though I claimed the experiences went well! Unlike a non-judgmental friend offering words from a place of encouragement and guidance, I was an enemy to myself – offering masked criticism from a misguided sense of trying to keep myself humble and honest, which had the opposite effect. It wore me down and zapped my self-confidence. Over time, I could only see myself in terms of negative self-judgment.
Not long after that conversation, Erich Kurschat posted an article on his Twitter and LinkedIn feeds that I was compelled to share:
It ignited a conversation with friends and colleagues that really seemed to hit a chord!
It helped me realize, I am not alone. My battle is not unique. Your battle is not unique. Many strong, capable, talented professionals struggle to stand in their worthiness – a WONDERFUL phrase coined by Laura.
Moving forward, with this new point of view and understanding, I plan on working to resist the urges to immediately judge my performance, myself. In addition, I plan on not placing qualifiers on myself. I will not go the extreme and look at everything through rose colored glasses. This is no more a sustainable outlook than always placing “however” on oneself. However, enjoying my wins and allowing myself to feel good about those wins can only be beneficial.
The key is balance and true rationalism. By being mindful about how you talk to yourself and about yourself, you can realistically assess how you’re progressing in the world. Give yourself space to be your own advocate. Work hard to get better and be better, but don’t do it by building a giant wooden horse and filling it with self-deprecation, self-doubt, and self-criticism.
Do it by allowing for the possibility that you are actually good at things and capable of success. Don’t use “but” when describing a success! Focus on the value of your strengths, of which there are many! You have a lot of them!!! Don’t fall back on where you have a deficit. How can your strengths overcome your deficits?
Accept the success and move on to more! Be your own best friend and champion, or as Laura advises, stand in your worthiness. Stand unwaveringly tall.