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Kindness in words creates confidence. ~ Lao Tzu


Kindness in words creates confidence. Yet it is the gift we so rarely give to ourselves. Instead we are demanding and unforgiving of our imperfections. This is the commonest cause of sleepless nights and agitated days. It is the underlying reason we refuse to try something new and hold back from the gusto of life.

“I just can’t do it;” “I’m not smart enough;” “I’m awkward;” “I don’t know how to socialize.” And on and on.

Such unkind internal conversation with ourselves began innocently enough for the most part. Parents and authority figures generally want our best possible future. They want us to learn to be safe, to socialize and to become functioning adults. They explain, coax, chide, and scold. Whatever it takes to get the message across.

“You know better than that;” “How many times do I have to tell you?” “What in the world were you thinking?” Etc.

manage self judgement

Children internalize these messages in the way that children think: black and white. Do it this way or it’s wrong and if you didn’t do it exactly right then it’s wrong. These messages stay with us in the form of internal self-judgement  meted out by a child tyrant. For that is what our internal judgements are: a young child demanding perfection of him or herself.
Most people live their lives according to the dictates of this inner despot. He has an opinion about everything you do: when you got up today, what you ate or didn’t for breakfast, your appearance, when you left for work, how you drove, and on and on. It doesn’t stop or slow down until you fall asleep at night. If you have had a hard day, the judgements may keep you awake berating you for what you did, didn’t do, and how you did it through the course of the day. You open your eyes in the morning and it starts all over again.


The Effects Of On-Going Silent Criticisms

Generally we don’t examine the effect these silent criticisms have on our lives. Because it is so painful, many people bury the awareness of the criticism in their subconscious. That doesn’t stop the effect, just hides it from us. More than any other barrier to living fully internal self-recrimination holds us back and blocks the fulfillment of our potential.

It may seem that others continually find fault with us. While that may have been true when we were young, it isn’t the case for us as adults.

manage personal judgement

External criticism that hits wide of our private beliefs about ourselves, will have no effect. At most we might look quizzically at the critic.

Only when the judgements of others come close to the bull’s eye of our own worst fears about ourselves do they have an impact. That impact sets off our self-attack. As an example, if I hate my curly hair and someone comments that my hair is always ‘wonky’, I’m much more likely to beat myself up for looking messy than if I love my curly hair. Then, ‘wonky’ is a delightful description that makes me smile.

Both positive and negative self-judgements keep us boxed in. Success in an endeavor can keep us coming back for more of the same, neglecting our latent abilities that could bring happiness, growth, even pleasure in to your life.

Kindness in thinking creates insight and depth of understanding.  ~ Lao Tzu

The Role Of Negative Self Assessments

improve self confidence

Most often, the larger problem lies in the negative self-assessments. A friend of mine, though skeptical, agreed to try an exercise to get to the bottom of her distress about her job. When she noticed herself feeling defensive in a meeting, she resolved to try the process.

First she noticed all the judgements. Then she asked herself where had these harsh assessments originated? Who taught her to be so mean to herself? Her first insight was that the adults who spoke critical words to her were projecting their own fears. In itself, this was a valuable realization.

Her second insight was that she, as a child, couldn’t defend herself successfully. These adults were too big. So she decided the best course was to get away and stay away from people who were critical and unappreciative of her. While that has a positive aspect, it has also caused her to get flustered, remain silent, and change jobs perhaps too readily to avoid difficult situations. What she is dodging is facing that cruel inner critic who, despite her escape attempts, is embedded in her as it is in all of us. Tracing the pattern of avoidance ( ) through her life heightens her awareness, disempowers the judgements, and opens up the possibility of doing something different.

Valuable Judgment Exercise

personal judgement

First, a definition: A judgement is an evaluation or assessment of your worth as a human being. While both positive and negative assessments can limit us, the negative are more likely the ones that cause us wakeful nights and dark days.

You can do this exercise for any situation that unnerves you. I recommend doing it in written form and for at least 3 or 4 different situations.

  1. Write 1 sentence that describes what happened. (Example: I didn’t get the job.)
  2. Write down all the judgements you have about yourself in this matter. Write them in the second person. That is, “Your skills are obsolete.” not “My skills are obsolete.”
  3. Look at the judgements and briefly describe how they make you feel physically. (Example: My neck hurts and I’m getting a headache.)
  4. Look at the statements and write down how they make you feel emotionally. (Example: I feel like a failure.)

    improve self confidence

The point of this judgement exercise is not to make you miserable. It provides an opportunity to get to know the tyrant who lives within you. As an adult you have the capability to reassess the assessments. If there is some value, something to learn, to do differently, you can make changes. Most likely, you will discover very little of value among the harsh words.

Personal work is about opening and freely expressing the truth of who you are. If you uncover deep-seated self-negativity, you will know where to turn your attention to free your soul.


Looking for support through the process of identifying and removing negative self-talk? Call Dr. Sandra Egli or Book an appointment online

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Meditation: Sandra Egli
Music: Torey Ronhovde

The wisdom of a thousand generations guides you today. Only listen. Without a sound their voices reverberate in your cells. Settle within and choose your path.

All of us come from strength, fortitude, perseverance. No matter how difficult their lives, our ancestors made it through and passed on life for the next generation. Over and over, until it came to you. The intelligence that guided them has also come to you.

To Thine own Self be true.

If I could present you with a single blessing, it would be the gift of Mindfulness. Awareness of yourself: body, emotions, and self-talk, all the time. Our immediate experience is the ultimate exploration that only grows richer with time. What we do or don't do, and the roots of our behavior, are accessible with the simple practice of noticing immediate experience. It is this practice that makes it possible to know and be true to ourselves.


Sandra's graceful way of listening & non-judgmental demeanor allowed me to open up effortlessly. I was certain, as I left her office, that I had received precisely the healing I needed.

Female client, age 44
Phoenix, Arizona