When we can’t feel love or connection, and instead find ourselves in a place where we’re feeling lonely, isolated and disconnected, we may tend to ask ourselves what’s wrong with me? We so often hear those voices in our head that say, “If I was really a good person, my life would be different”, or “I should have done it this way”, or I’m just not good enough”, to name a few of these judgmental thoughts that may sound familiar to you.
We identify ourselves with this negative perception and then judge ourselves rather harshly for feeling this way. This is aversive judgment.
Tara Brach describes aversive judgment as mental aggression.
If we can recognize that we often identify ourselves as these thought patterns instead of seeing them as negative self talk that has nothing to do with who we are, then we can start to separate ourselves from aversive judgment patterns. Aversive judgment is a pervasive way of thinking for many of us.
As part of the process we can feel a great deal of shame, self-doubt and guilt. The anecdote of aversive self-judgment is self-compassion. When we begin to see ourselves as different from the aversive judgment patterns, we are changing and healing. We have choices and can respond instead of react and begin to exercise more love and compassion. We don’t have to listen to the negative voices once we start to discern them. In fact, it’s far more loving to recognize that negativity as harmful, and not who we are. However, all of us experience it to some degree. When we shift our thoughts to something more kind and loving, we feel and experience life differently.
Here are four ways to work with yourself to help move you through the process of aversive judgment patterns:
1. Recognize it’s happening.
2. Take a breath.
3. Slow down, and;
4. Change your thoughts to something that brings you peace, like a safe place for example.
Over time this process can help you to develop some skills to work with aversive judgment patterns. The more you practice, the better we become at being more loving to ourselves and find more peace. Aversive judgment patterns challenge us all, and we learn a great deal from them.