The Judge


Sometimes feedback is received well and has the appropriate level of sting (because all feedback stings), while others times it makes one feel wounded, resentful, and hurt.  The negative emotions might come from the actual experience or the words from the sender.  However, sometimes this feeling is caused by twisted self-judgment.

When kids are little, they receive well intentioned “good” and “bad” messages.  Just as a good teacher thinks aloud so  students internalize it for their own learning; messages from parents, adults, or peers become internalized in children.  Slowly, through our interactions with life, we form the judge.  Our internal judge gets out of hand if unchecked and become a voice constantly judging (and condemning) our actions (Ruiz, 1997).

When the judge hears feedback, it makes destructive comments like:

  • You’re lazy.
  • You’re not good enough.
  • You make the same mistakes over and over again.
  • This is all your fault.

The judge is not the same as a conscience, though they feel alike.  Both exist to keep a person aligned to their values, but a judge uses shame as their tool.  Left unprocessed, shame only makes someone feel small, flawed, and never good enough (Brown, 2012).

How do people react when the judge starts talking?  They may become defensive, angry, upset, and unreceptive.  All are natural reactions when someone is attacked by the demons in their head.

Good leaders (anyone that wants to serve others and help people improve), recognize when the judge is attacking people we serve.  We have a responsibility to help others improve.  Still, those we serve can’t improve unless we ask questions to help them reflect, recognize, and mute the judge.

It is easy for the judge’s voice to become mixed into the daily noise of thinking.  By helping process beliefs underneath behaviors, we isolate the noise of the judge and truly grow.

Applies to self as much as others.


Brown, Brene.  (2012)  The gifts of imperfection.  Center City, MN.  Hazeldon Publishing.

Ruiz, Don Miguel.  (1997)  The four agreements.  San Rafael, CA.  Amber-Allen Publishing.


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