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The process of self-inquiry teaches us to notice when we are being judgmental and invites us to reinterpret our old views. But often, as we’re learning not to judge our neighbors, we forget not to judge ourselves. We judge ourselves for what we see as our past mistakes, while, at the same time, judging ourselves for how we are now. We wish we were more spiritual and less ego focused; more forgiving and less judgmental; more compassionate and less ignorant of others’ needs. We wish we were more of this, and less of that. We concoct an idea of what a spiritual person should be like, and judge ourselves for not being quite like that ideal we made. We strive to love others more while we’re hating on ourselves by judging ourselves. That makes no sense, and yet, we keep shoulding on ourselves.

Let’s start this day by ending the process of shoulding on ourselves. We have been shoulding on ourselves for years and for lifetimes, and that hasn’t brought us peace. Let’s try instead to practice radical approval of ourselves: I place the limitless arms of love around all of my past, current and future thoughts, judgments and decisions. Only love is powerful enough to embrace all things, and by trusting love, I learn to trust my true self and I learn that I am love.

Guess what part of you judges, no matter whether you judge others or yourself? Yes, the ego. And because the ego is a fearful thought, anything the ego makes is made of fear. Do you ever judge yourself or others out of love? Of course not. And since love and fear are the only emotions we experience, judgment must be fear. Every time you judge, you therefore compound fear. Every time you catch yourself shoulding on yourself, know that fear (which is ego) is seeking to strengthen itself.

The real you has no need to judge at all because it rests in perfect knowledge, which is a state beyond interpretation. The true self doesn’t care how you are as a person because spirit, which is your true self, knows that you are not a person. To say I’m not a person may seem scary and confusing. It is most definitely threatening to the ego. What it means, however, is that you are not the story of you that you came up with over the years of this life. The story of me may portray me either as a successful person or as a disadvantaged person, either as a victim or a victimizer. But none of those interpretations are who I truly am. To say I am not a person is to say that I am not my history; I am not the “story of me,” as Eckhart Tolle calls it.

Judgment is simply an interpretation. As you know, an interpretation is not necessarily the truth. Judgment is a thought that you have not investigated, a thought you have not questioned. I should be skinnier. I shouldn’t watch TV. I should meditate every day. I shouldn’t eat gluten. Ask yourself where all these shoulds and shouldn’ts come from. Start the process of self-inquiry by questioning your judgments, which are simply uninvestigated thoughts. Are your judgments even your own thoughts, or are they the thoughts of your parents, your friends, your society?

This world gives us plenty evidence on what happens when thoughts are not investigated, but simply perpetuated: war, discrimination, prejudice, social stigma. Generation after generation blindly follows stale thought patterns, making the same judgments their predecessors did, and insisting that their interpretations are the truth.

But we don’t have to look at the warring far-away countries or misogynist cultures to see the effects judging has. What about the everyday judging we do to ourselves? You can’t judge others without judging yourself and you can’t judge yourself without judging others. Judgment is judgment. The good news is that judgment of others is undone as you undo self-judgment. The one can’t exist without the other. So if you feel noble and righteous when you judge the despicable acts of others, know that you are also judging yourself. Your view of the despicable other will shift as you start to look into your own self judgments and question their validity. This is how the process of undoing of all judgment starts: by undoing self judgment. What seems to be without is forgiven as you forgive what’s within.

Become an observer of your own thoughts. When a judging thought arises, when there is a should or shouldn’t, remember that judgments are simply thoughts that have not been investigated. Then you’ll have a choice: you will either align with the uninvestigated thought or you’ll stay open to the possibility that there may be a different interpretation to that thought.

When you know thought to be a temporary perspective, thought is beautiful! Every thought is a judgment. As long as you know that, it’s fine. (Eckhart Tolle)

Our goal is not so much to relinquish all judgment, but to stop judging ourselves for having judged. When you judge yourself for having judgmental thoughts, remember this simple imagery: where there was one judgment, now there are two, and that means more judgment. When we remember that judgment stems from fear, and that fear and love are the only emotions we have, then it follows that to undo judgment, we have to choose love. Choosing love means owning the decisions we already made, and wrapping them in a blanket of love and acceptance instead of judgment and fear. But choosing love also means being willing to investigate thoughts that don’t come from love. With patience and trust, you will choose love more often than fear, and ultimately there won’t even be any need for judgment because you will rest in the perfect knowledge of your true nature.

Your true self can’t judge and can’t even conceive of the need to judge. The part of you that judges is the ego, and the ego is not even a part of you because it’s just a fearful thought that you keep in place because you believe it. When judgment of any kind enters your mind, remember that only love is powerful enough to embrace all things. And just like light shines away darkness effortlessly, love with which you embrace all your thoughts will shine away the fear on which any judgment rested. And the house built on fear will crumble as if it never existed because you will realize that it was an illusion all along.

Judgment and love are opposites. From one
Come all the sorrows of the world. But from
The other comes the peace of God Himself.

(A Course in Miracles, W-352)