Judgment, Blame, and Shame Meet the Little Voice in My Head

September 15, 2015

Judgment, Blame, and Shame Meet the Little Voice in My Head

I like to think that I’m not a judgmental person.

I like to think that I take responsibility for the things that happen in my life instead of blaming others.

I like to think that I’ve moved beyond feelings of shame.

But on a daily basis, a little voice in my head tells me otherwise. I don’t remember the voice being there years ago. Maybe it was there and I just tuned it out. Maybe it was stunned into silence from too much judgment, blame, and shame.

It seems to have started after I began consciously working on my stuff. Healing myself, studying Ayurveda, energy medicine, writing this blog.

Just when you think you’re so conscious or spiritual some little voice tells you that your work is never done. To stop worrying about other people’s stuff. To mind your own business.

I especially hear The Voice when I’m on my bike, free as a bird.

I get a whiff of a cigarette and the minute my mind goes to judgment (So disgusting!), I remember that I smoked for several years. Started in my forties. One of the dumbest things I’ve ever done. So, says the little voice in my head “Who are you to judge? Remember how hard it was to quit?”

Or – what kind of parent lets their toddler loose on the boardwalk when there are bikes and runners whizzing by? “Oh right.” says the little voice, “Remember the time your two-year old got out of her stroller, went down the escalator and was ready to walk out the front door of the department store while you were talking to a salesperson?”

That damn voice has a memory like an elephant.

That’s Judgment Voice. Thankfully, I notice the judgments seem to be getting smaller and more insignificant. I guess that’s thanks to The Voice.

Then there’s Blame

I hear her most often when I misplace something and my mind immediately goes to someone else. When I hear the Blame Voice, I usually laugh out loud. I only have to hear her to know that I lost it, I misplaced it, or I broke it myself.

There’s also serious Blame. The kind that we think we let go of years ago. But it still rears its ugly head, now and again.

For some people it goes back as far as they can remember. Could be an abusive childhood, an argument that never got settled, a divorce, someone who wronged us.

When my mind wanders back too far in the past and grabs ahold of something or someone to blame from the past, the Blame Voice snaps me back to reality. “Let it go.” she says. “There’s two sides to every story.”

And then there’s Shame

Ahh. Sometimes I hear it when I think of someone or something that shamed me in the past. It begs forgiveness.

Because the Shame Voice is reserved strictly for my own shame, it seems to have a gentler edge to it. “It’s okay”, she says, “acknowledge it, let the feeling pass through you, and then let it go.”

Shame is a great deal more painful to deal with than judgment and blame. Because, of course, most of us are way harder on ourselves than others. And somehow we always seem to feel responsible for our own shame.

In fact, the more attention I pay to The Voice, the more I notice that most of the judgment, blame and shame is self-directed.

I find it fairly easy nowadays to forgive and forget. I work really hard at not succumbing to gossip, which seems to always lead to judgment. But the thing The Voice keeps reminding me I need to work on is old self-judgment, self-blame and shame for my own actions in the past that hurt others.

I’m getting better at letting go, moving on, forgiving myself, thanks again to The Voice. Over and over she tells me that the past, however painful, was necessary to bring me to where I am today.

That all of those painful experiences gave me the opportunity to grow, to become the person I was meant to be, to travel towards the light.

“Light is in both the broken bottle and the diamond.”
– Mark Nepo

The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have

Amen to that, Mark Nepo. Deep down inside, judgment, blame and shame aside, I am profoundly grateful for all of the broken pieces of my life. They have shaped me into someone who finally can love herself for who she is. Well, most of the time.

And with humble gratitude, I thank The Voice for keeping me honest and good and true to myself. It’s a daily struggle, but one worth having.

Do you have a Voice in your head, too? I’m curious what yours is yapping about. Please share.

With love,

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
– Mark Twain

  1. Ohhhhhh. [ clutching stomach/third chakra groan] What a timely topic. I am the Queen of Self-Criticism. And this is not old. It is not a chorus of blame externally imposed on me by a parent. This is who I am. I listened to a podcast by my favorite astrologer this weekend speaking of how Virgos (which I am) are the most self-critical bunch of people he has met and that trait of the astrological Virgo seems to carry true to type. Yeah. I coulda told him about that one. And I think the more I am on this “spiritual” path the worse it gets because I have set my personal goals to a higher standard. So I freely give myself demerits and rarely hand myself a gold star.

    This comment to your post sounds like self-pity. Self-criticism. But then you asked, Barbara. That is the voice in my head. And what you called The Voice? The positive angel sitting on my other shoulder? Ah. I guess that’s the one that just has on the big R.Crumb boots and tells me to “keep on truckin’!” Because that is all any of us can do. We stay on the path of our choosing and know that it is work. And do it, day by day. Chop that wood. Carry that water. Learn that lesson. And bit by bit by bit, we get better. Yes! Onward!

  2. José Van Haastert-Inner Impact September 16, 2015 at 11:58 am Reply

    Wow Barbara, This really hits home for me. And I really admire your style of writing to put it out to us so we can gently learn from it and have a deeper look inward to be able to listen to this voice. Thank you so much.

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