How to stop judging yourself too harshly

We live in very busy times, and it can be extremely tempting to make swift judgement, based on the facts we already have at hand

By Delna Mistry Anand

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Published: Thu 22 Sep 2022, 8:22 PM

A glass of water was placed before two people. They were asked if the glass was half empty or half full. The one who said ‘half full’ was labelled an optimist and the other who saw it as half empty, a pessimist. When these individuals were asked to explain their response, the ‘pessimist’ said that he took a quick assessment of how much water was already in the glass, so that he could clearly determine exactly how much more could be added, if required. The ‘optimist’ explained that he didn’t get into details, he saw some water, noticed that it wasn’t empty and hence called it half full.

So, who is the real optimist and pessimist in the story? Were they judged too quickly at first? And didn’t your answer also change with the second half of the story?

We live in very busy times, and it can be extremely tempting to make swift judgement, based on the facts we already have at hand. Sure, this can be a good thing at times. It helps us make quick decisions. Judgements can be linked with our upbringing, understanding of the world and our own personal experiences. NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) experts say that we see the world based on our ‘map of the world’, which includes our automatic reactions and assumptions. Yes, these are needed and also beneficial.

But this gift gets dark when we use it to judge others prematurely and unfairly, and worse when we judge ourselves poorly. I took interest in this topic after receiving a message from a teenage boy. All of 16, he had already decided what he is and isn’t capable of. This is slightly different from ‘self-awareness’. Here, he had already judged himself, his capacity to study/plan his studies, his teachers, school system, and family, based on how he thought others saw him. None of this was necessarily true, rooted in any kind of facts and neither was it particularly beneficial for him.

Take a moment to think if you have ever been in a similar situation, and fallen into the trap of believing a story filled with misrepresentations? Just because “they” think so, does it become true?

An assumption is defined as a thing that is accepted as truth or as certain to happen, without proof. So, it can be true or false. Ask yourself:

• How do I know this to be true?

• Just because it may have happened earlier, do I need to hold on to it and make it mine?

• Does this story truly represent me?

• Does it make me happy?

If you feel even a bit of resistance, it’s time to reassess this part of the story. Relook at this judgement, and rewrite your story. They say, “history is written by the victors”. Who is the victor of your story? And who is going to write a more meaningful one? If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

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