Catrien Ross on How Negative Self-Judgment Creates A Lifetime of Guilt and Limitation

Saturday, February 20th, 2010 - 20 Comments

Are you your own harshest judge?

In my last blog post I wrote about how judging your day creates your experience.

But what about self-judgment?

What emotional damage do you sustain from how you judge yourself?

Judgments you impose upon yourself can generate guilt that blights years of your life.

The negative verdicts of your inner judge destroy your self-confidence, diminish your self-esteem, cripple your choices, and quash your creative expression.

Yet the beginnings of negative self-judgment can often be traced back to an outside opinion that became your own limiting belief.

For example, who first judged that you were not beautiful, or talented, or capable?

Someone in your childhood who criticized or compared you to others?

Who judged that you had no ability for drawing, or writing, or dancing, or singing?

A teacher, or another insensitive adult?

Who judged that your dreams could never be realized, or that your deepest desires were futile, or that your passion was ridiculous?

A parent? A spouse? A partner?

At some point you not only acknowledged such valuations as truth, you accepted them as your inner reality.

Thus you began the lifetime of negative self-judgment that now defines you.

Years of piling up one false belief after another builds a mountain of guilt that can crush you.

Shifting this deadly weight means shifting your inner guilt.

This, in turn, requires confronting your inner judge.

As impossible as this may seem, one way to start is by understanding how
negative self-judgment is created.

How do you determine what is good and what is bad?

Why do you perceive one person or thing as beautiful and another as ugly?

How do you develop the likes and dislikes by which you respond to people and situations?

Your inner judge is formed out of the mental framework, the world view you constructed from external factors such as:

  • where you were born
  • what your parents and other caregivers taught you
  • your culture and your religion
  • your friends and your peer groups
  • the books you read and the subjects you studied
  • the games you played and the passions you discovered
  • the work you trained for and the job you do

Your personal framework teaches you to separate, discriminate, and judge.

It defines how you perceive your life and how you react to everything that happens.

Your world view is the basis for the guilt that confines and perhaps even paralyzes you in the present.

It will most likely be painful and may require years of personal effort, but tracing back through honest self-reflection can lead to breakthrough concerning your negative self-judgment.

You begin to see why you make the choices you do.

You start to understand your motives and perceptions.

A first step can be as simple as looking in a mirror and asking yourself what you see.

Or spending time at the close of each day in reviewing all the self-judgments you made in so many hours.

Or lingering in bed a few moments after awaking and requesting fresh insights from your own inner wisdom.

By engaging the courage of your deepest self you open the doorway to dissolving the negative self-judgment that creates a lifetime of guilt and limitation.

How has negative self-judgment affected your life?

Do you have a personal story you would like to share?

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20 Responses to “Catrien Ross on How Negative Self-Judgment Creates A Lifetime of Guilt and Limitation”

  1. Kim says:

    Hello Catrien,

    Wonderful post! We are indeed our worst critic listening to judgmental dialogue from within that contributes to self-sabotage. This has led me to my study of the subconscious mind where our life script is stored — where environment and upbringing contributed to our programming and storage of ‘knowns’ and acting on ‘auto-pilot.’ It has been in working with the subconscious mind that I have witnessed effective and positive change.

    Looking forward to learning and sharing more.

    Warm Regards,

  2. Faizal says:


    I’m sure many people can relate to this post. We must learn to think for ourselves because only then we realize the power we have within. Our belief systems limit us and yes, our self-judgment is formed through our environment.

    Catrien, please continue writing because I am moved by this post and it will help many others. Great job!

  3. Catrien Ross says:

    Kim, thank you so much and welcome to my blog. Your insightful comment is a really good addition – thank you for the reminder about self-sabotage. Your study of the subconscious mind sounds very interesting, and I hope you will share many more of your insights on Living in Japan has given me several insights into the power of upbringing to shape our thoughts and actions, as you point out. Please visit often to discuss your perceptions. From the foot of Mount Fuji, a glorious winter’s day hello.

  4. Catrien Ross says:

    Faizal, hello again and many thanks for your enthusiastic support. You please continue posting in your blog, too. All of us, together, can learn to reach beyond our limiting beliefs to become the power that each of us already is within. Good to see you here!

  5. ayo says:

    hi catrien,
    how are you?
    this post brought back a few memories were i had been told i wouldnt be/get/achieve/do certain puts you in an enclosed box lol!!! & in order for me to get past it, i’ve had to make a conscious effort,study hard, mix with friends, start talking, believe and accept who i was and it’s worked out better for me.
    have a lovely weekend

  6. Catrien Ross says:

    Ayo, thanks for visiting again. I feel fine – it’s a beautiful day here in the mountains and the sun is glinting on the snow. Breaking out of our personal boxes seems to be a lifetime process for so many of us. Thanks for sharing your practical hints on how it has worked for you.

  7. Catrien: Great post and such an important topic. It can be easy to overlook our continual self judgment because we have been doing it for so long. It has in a sense become a part of who we are. The wonderful thing is that we are able to choose our own story. We are able to determine how we will define ourselves and whether or not we will choose to continue thinking limiting thoughts. I thought your recommendations for beginning to transform any negative self judgments were right on point. Enjoy your day in the mountains.

  8. Catrien Ross says:

    Sibyl, thank you. It’s always wonderful to see you here, adding your perceptive voice. Yes, we are able to choose our own story, and yet so many of us instead maintain the same limiting thoughts for much of our adult lives. Transformation can begin in the instant we shift our perception, even in the slightest. But getting ourselves to that beginning point seems to be particularly hard. Thanks for the encouragement of your great comment. It’s another glorious day here in the mountains.

  9. Dr.Mani says:

    Lovely post. I remember Marianne Williamson’s inspiring poem whenever the temptation to self-judge pops up, especially these lines:

    “We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.”

    (from “Our Deepest Fear”

  10. Catrien Ross says:

    Dr. Mani, and so lovely to see you here again. Thank you for the inspiring lines you shared, and for the helpful resource. I, too, love those words of Marianne Williamson’s, and I appreciate your returning me to them. Your practical hint about recalling words that motivate whenever you feel tempted to self-judge is one that we can all use – draw on what inspires you and that alone can encourage you to reconnect with your inner power. Playing small does not serve anyone well, including yourself – it is often a false humility that acts as an excuse to continue being less than what you truly are in this world. Thank you for this reminder to step grandly into our being.

  11. Walter says:

    From the moment we were born, we have inculcated belief systems that we carry on until we grow up. Until we realize that our actions are influenced by the belief systems that we don’t even question, it’s impossible to grow.

    We have to let go of the negative programming we inherited from our environment and create new one for ourselves based on the reality we face. 🙂

  12. Catrien Ross says:

    Walter, welcome to my blog and thank you for your agreement on the importance of our belief systems in shaping how we think and act. I appreciate your comment about creating a new belief system based on the reality we face, because this puts us here in the present moment. This deepens our self-awareness in the now of our daily life – an unfolding existence which is no longer the same past we may have been programmed to live out. I look forward to hearing more from you, so please visit again.

  13. Tisha Berg says:

    Catrien, this is a really important post, especially in a celebrity-obsessed, reality-tv crazed, tech-savvy world where people are constantly being bombarded with distractions and told what to think, wear and do. There’s often little room for self-reflection and development of that intuitiveness that tells us that we’re judging ourselves too harshly. Getting to a place of change requires not just knowing what derailed us, but also taking the time to get back to center everyday…knowing what our ‘issues’ are doesn’t make them go away; we must create rituals to stave off the re-occurring appearances of them.

    Thanks for a great, insightful blog! 🙂

  14. Catrien Ross says:

    Tisha, thank you for the very important insights in your comment. Welcome to my blog. You shared deep wisdom in your comment that knowing what our “issues” are doesn’t make them go away. I would be really interested in learning more about some of the rituals you enact to “stave off” the reappearance over and over of these same “issues.” Can you share more with us in this discussion? It’s wonderful to see you here – please visit often to share your perspectives.

  15. Tisha Berg says:


    You know, it’s interesting that it wasn’t until I had children that I developed regular rituals for dealing with issues that were challenging for me. Prior to that I was so busy reading, learning, and “trying to find” my inner wisdom (read: talking A LOT about what I thought I knew), that I often couln’t see the forest for the trees.

    When my kids came along, I wanted them to have an innate understanding of the spiritual principles that I had struggled so much to make a part of my life. In parenting them, I’ve made a commitment to bring self-awareness into our everyday lives as individuals and as a family. We all have Vision Boards where we regularly post qualities which we aspire to, or material things that we want to bring into our lives. We sit down together for at least one meal every day and before eating, we talk about the things in our lives that we’re grateful for and the things that have happened that day to bring us joy. Before storytimes, we meditate (my daughter calls it “namaste-ing”) and talk about the importance of going within to listen to your body’s wisdom and to hear your own thoughts. And when one of us has “stuff” that comes up – anger, bad behavior, sadness, etc. – we make a point to acknowledge it and share our thoughts about it once the mood has passed and we’ve had a chance to calm down. We talk about what we’ve learned, how we can try to communicate more successfully the next time and what we can do to help each other in satisfying our emotional and spiritual needs.

    In the beginning, I had a very different, idealized vision of what I thought parenthood would be like, but it’s turned out to be so much more for me.

    I know this is a long-winded answer to your question, but I feel so grateful for and fulfilled by what I have learned from my kids and through parenting them, that I feel it’s important to share with others that enlightenment can come from anywhere…and sometimes when you least expect it.

    Thanks for the platform! 🙂

  16. Catrien Ross says:

    Tisha, you are more than welcome to the platform anytime you want to share honest insights as you have just done. You sound like an incredibly wise and loving mother, but your children also seem very self-aware. How old are they? Vision Boards for each member of the family is a fantastic idea, and what inspirational fun, too – real-time charting of deep desires and amazing goals. I agree with you that so-called enlightenment can -and does -come from anywhere. We don’t need to withdraw, or go off somewhere distant, or practice esoteric techniques. All we need to do is remain connected in each moment of our lives, where the lessons and blessings and miracles reveal themselves every day. I hope other readers feel like joining in this discussion to share ideas and experiences. Tisha, thank you so much for your deeply appreciated contribution.

  17. Bern says:

    One way to look at our self is to say we are probes that senses and experiences the environment from particular and unique points of view. However, one’s multi-dimensional senses are being obstructed by thoughts and unresolved feelings that we have from the past and the future. It creates a static barrier that prevents an individual from feeling fresh and brand new in this one moment. Therefore, self judgement blocks the senses because old energy is blocking the now. Self Judgement is also created when we believe in the points of view that are outside of ourselves instead of experiencing our own personal vantage point. Its as if we are designed to live from the inside-out whereas society and culture teaches us to live and relate ourselves exclusively to the outside world, thereby relinquishing our personal will power.

    We are all spirit….we are all energy….having a unique experience. Therefore, we can all allow each other to feel freely the world that surrounds us. Everything outside of our own personal dream can then be respected where we each have fun relating our expereinces and perhaps learning from them.

    This is an important discussion Catrien. Thank you for bringing it to the surface for all of us to explore and for us to take a closer look at our selves and how we often prevent ourselves from being authentic, because of how we judge ourselves.

  18. Catrien Ross says:

    Bern, thank you for bringing your deep perspective to this discussion. Welcome to my blog. You raise so many points and reminders, and with words that sing – “We are all spirit…we are all energy…having a unique experience.” Your interpretation of our being probes in our environment is so evocative. If we could be more aware that we experience both our inner and outer nature through our range of natural senses, but that we have, as you say, obstructed our multi-dimensional senses. Your description of a static barrier is also very strong, and it is also sad because it means our feelings of freshness and newness- our sense of wonder – is diminished in this one moment. We make ourselves less than we truly are through this barrier as well as through our self-judgment. Thank you for reiterating my point about our tendency to believe in the points of view outside of ourselves. Modern society and culture is outward-pulling, outward-influencing, outward-aggrandizing. By accepting its dictates we make ourselves smaller and smaller – in your words, “relinquishing our personal willpower.” I also very much appreciate your insight about “we each have fun relating our experiences and perhaps learning from them.” Each of us is on a journey – we are walking a personal story that unfolds as our life. To experience it with joy, to share it with joy, to know the underlying joy of our authentic existence. Bern, thank you so much. I hope other readers feel inspired to respond as this discussion deepens. And I also hope you will walk your way over to my blog often -Catrien Ross.

  19. Robin Easton says:

    Dear Catrien, It was pure joy to discover you at my blog. Such a shining gift. I responded to your comment there, and the words I left don’t do justice to how I felt after “experiencing” you. You ARE Nature, Life, Vitality and Passion unleashed. You are Brilliance.

    This post here is So very important and something that I strongly relate to. I think what turned the tide for me many years ago was when I realized that I was the Divine Creator itself, just as you are and our mutual friend Bern who left a comment above, just as all the others who comment here are, just as we ALL are. Upon seeing that I am the Divine, judging myself became almost as silly as judging the tree that grows upon the trail or the moon that lights the dark night or the flower that grows pink, orange or blue.

    I just am, and if I am judging myself it is not real. There is no judgment. There just IS. Nature taught me that she never judges. She just IS. She is endless Love. Even if it appears that someone is judging me, I am only experiencing their fear. I am invited to remain in a place of love. I am invited to soothe them like a frightened child. I need not judge those who appear to judge me.

    I think you might enjoy this post of mine. It is the story of how I shifted my perspective on judging myself (many years ago). If we can see the child within us as our OWN birth-child, we will never judge ourselves again.

    I am very excited about discovering you. You are so beautifully alive. You reaffirm life simply by “being”. And I am deeply grateful. Love, Robin

  20. Catrien Ross says:

    Robin, well, I just cried, tissue after tissue of tears. Thank you? Yes, and yes, welcome to my blog with your comment that I can only reply to with an outpouring of gratitude for our connection. Your incredible love and light and wisdom illuminate your every phrase. What a magnificent being you are, Robin – your dazzling example inspires each of us to rediscover and experience our own magnificence. And I am deeply grateful. Since I am so overcome by the wave of love with which you bathed me, I hope another reader will jump in to respond to what you have shared here. I am still crying. Robin, love to you – Catrien.

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