How To Not Be So Hard On Yourself

Putting your Inner Judge and Jury in their place and choosing yourself in the process

Justin H. Lee
4 min readJul 25, 2022
Photo by Martin Péchy on Unsplash

What stops us from sharing and revealing ourselves to others?

What holds us back from shining as brightly as we believe we can?

What causes us to hesitate when we yearn to reach out and to be received?

For so many of us, the answer is Judgment.

Or to be more precise, self-judgment.

It seems all too common (and easy) to criticize, diminish, and all the other fun ways we make ourselves feel bad about ourselves.

Etymologically, judgment comes from the French word “jugement,” or “action of trying at law, trial.”

Considering how often we judge ourselves, it seems many of us are in a constant state of being tried by our inner court of law.

Let’s dive into this analogy a bit deeper since, if there is to be a trial, there must be a few elements in place.

Namely, a Judge, a Defendant, and a Jury.

In this analogy, the Defendant is us. They represent our decisions, actions, and desire to do, be, or have something different. It is the aspect of our spirit that wants to innocently follow exciting and bold inspirations.

As this part of us asks to speak, our inner Jury, also known as our inner critic, perks up.

As The Jury, our ego is always asking questions.

What will keep us safe?
What will keep things certain?
How do we stop ourselves from getting hurt?

Our inner critic believes, from past experiences, that the world is not safe and that change is to be avoided at all costs since it didn’t seem to work out that well the last time, or even the time before that.

It seeks to remind us how at some point in our past, we (as all people do) found ourselves in a situation that felt unsafe and for a moment, we found ourselves in some grief and conflict.

Whether the event was genuinely traumatic such as a loss of a loved one, feeling mistreated, or simply that something happened abruptly before we were ready, it’s important to note that our inner jury interprets all of these as equal and all things to be avoided.

It is important not to reject our Inner Jury as, like all parts of us, it just wants to participate, be loved, and be heard.

It’s essential to also allow space for this part of us.

More often than not, our Jury’s intentions are good as what it wants is to keep us safe, and in order to do that, it seeks to maintain the status quo.

What is most curious to me is the role of The Judge.

Who is the judge in our inner world?

I believe the Judge is our higher consciousness, the aspect of us that is always in tune with not only our rational mind but is also connected to our hearts, others, and Spirit.

Often we see that a judge in a courtroom is seated above everyone else. This gives them a broader view and a deeper perspective as to what is actually happening.

Is what we want to do actually dangerous? Or does it only seem that way to our ego’s limited view?

As the ego speaks its view demanding that things stay the same, and our soul reaches for new experiences and freedom, the judge listens and, with benevolence and holistic perspective, offers its perspective.

Perspective that takes into account more than just the black and white of the ego and the starry-eyed visions of our inner child.

Something I see that comes from the Judge’s decisions is a sense of permission.

An allowance on the side of the Defendant to do what it is they want, and on the Jury’s side, validation that it was right in its assessment.

For me, the biggest question lies in knowing the difference between the Judge’s voice and the ego.

How do I know if I’m listening to wisdom or following a pattern?

I find one of the simplest ways to test this to see how much emotion and intensity there is in the decision.

Judges are impartial (at least they are supposed to be!), meaning they aren’t attached to outcomes. They see what is and decide what is best based on the information, sensations, and past experiences available.

When I find myself emotionally charged or triggered around something, I take it as a sign.

A sign that there is a good chance my ego is getting involved and that it is time to remember there’s always a higher voice and perspective available.

Practically, sometimes, this means stepping away to process, consider, and assess all things in the light of greater awareness and love.

As we remind ourselves of the role of our ego, we can allow it to have its say. To let it be loud, messy, and demanding.

And to remember that it is not in charge of our inner court and world.

Like a benevolent queen or king, let us remember that there is a higher source of wisdom and guidance that sits at the throne of our conscious heart.

While it isn’t always easy to have access to this higher aspect of ourselves, just like how for many of us, our ego has gotten used to being in charge, we can begin to recalibrate ourselves.

As we grant more trust to our higher self, we begin to align ourselves to all the goodness that Life has to offer.

This takes time, effort, and attention, and is a meaningful process that I believe brings courage, clarity, grounding, and joy to how we engage with Life, others, and our inner world.



Justin H. Lee

Human/Being • Expat in Asia • Connection Facilitator • Slightly Angsty • Writes on Mental Health, Relationship Dynamics, Man Stuff, and Heart-Forward Leadership