Healing Your Life
Below you will find the text for Step Four of the Healing Your Life Course. You will also find a link to the video of Paul Ferrini teaching this step. Please read through the text and then watch the corresponding video.. Then, when you are ready, answer the homework questions in the journal that follows. When you have finished, save your answers so that you can refer back to them in the future.
Own Your Judgments
Goal: Stop Projecting Your Pain Onto Others.
Strategy: Take Responsibility.
Realize that your judgments say more about you that they do about others and bring love to the wounded parts of yourself.
Judgments Lead to Attack
Our judgments of others lead to one form of attack or another. They are the beginning of trespass. When we
judge another person, we attempt to make something stick to him or her that belongs to us. If we judge another person as lazy, it is usually because we are lazy or are afraid of being seen as lazy. If laziness was not our issue, if we were not criticized for it by our parents and other authority figures, if we did not feel shame about it, or fear being punished for it, we would not have an antenna that picks up laziness in others.
We see in others what we are afraid to see in ourselves. That way instead of feeling our shame, we shame others.
We say about our brother in law, “He’s a lazy slob. He hasn’t had a job in three years.” And that may be true about him,
but it may also be true about us. We think that by making it be about him, we take ourselves off the hook. It becomes his problem, not ours. But that is just wishful thinking. Shaming or blaming him does not make our shame go away. It just reinforces it. There’s no way out of the blame game, except to heal our shame and stop blaming others.
Once one person attacks another, it isn’t long before the other person fights back. Before long, someone ups the ante and throws a punch, or picks up a gun. Before you know it someone is hurt or dead. Words escalate into deeds. Fear becomes attack. Shame becomes humiliation.
All of this starts with a single judgment made by a person who does not feel loved or worthy. Instead of feeling his
shame and working to heal it, he tries to shame someone else. He projects his issue onto his coworker or his partner.
It is not a mystery that domestic crimes are so prevalent in society. We tend to attack the people we hang out with. They are the ones who trigger us best because they know how to get under our skin.
Jesus told us that we had to look not just at our acts, but at our thoughts too. Acts begin as thoughts. If we don’t bring awareness and healing at the thought stage, it will be harder after the actions have been taken.
That is why we all need to be vigilant for our thoughts before they become words and for our words before they
become actions. In this sense, owning our judgments becomes the first step in ending the cycle of violence where it begins, in our own hearts and minds.
Owning Your Judgments
In Step Four you are asked to understand that your judgments belong to you, not to anyone else. Instead of projecting your shadow onto others you are asked to see the unworthiness behind your judgments and bring love to the wounded and unworthy parts of yourself.
By taking responsibility for the judgment, you are able to bring correction and forgiveness. You are able to hear and respond to the call for love from the wounded child within yourself.
The goal here is not for you to stop having judgments — that is an unrealistic expectation — but simply for you to be aware of the judgments that arise in your mind. We are asking you to see them, correct them, and forgive them.
Your judgments of others reflect back to you where your real issues of self-worth lie. When you judge another person, you project some aspect of yourself onto someone else. That is why your judgments are about you, not about someone else. Your judgments about others offer you an opportunity to look at the unloved/unaccepted aspects of yourself and bring love and acceptance to them. That’s why recognizing your judgments can be the key toward healing your wounds.
None of your judgments are justified. They are all unjustified and untrue. Your attempt to justify your judgments is an exercise in denial and a refusal to take responsibility for your thoughts, words, and actions. When you acknowledge your judgments (know that they are about you and not about anyone else) you stop projecting.
Awareness and responsibility stop projection in its tracks. When you own your judgments and bring love and acceptance to the aspect of self that feels unworthy, you begin to integrate your shadow. You move toward unity and wholeness.
Forgiveness and Correction
Forgiveness involves awareness and correction. First you see and correct your judgments and then you forgive yourself for making them. The correction to each judgment is “I see that this is not about you. It is about me.” That is what it means to own the judgment and take it back. Then you ask, “Where is the wound behind this judgment? How is the other person reflecting something that is painful to me?”
If you were feeling safe and secure right now you would not be judging. So you ask, “How am I feeling scared or unsafe? Where do I need to bring love and acceptance to myself?”
This process of awareness, correction and forgiveness is essential if you are going to learn to take responsibility for your thoughts, words and actions. Since we all project, since we all judge, we must all learn to own our judgments so that we can correct them and forgive ourselves and others. This becomes a daily and even a moment-to-moment practice.
To correct and forgive is to heal, atone and reconnect with your Core Self and the Core Self in others. That is what it means to be truly responsible for your thoughts, words and deeds.
Projection: The Futile Attempt to Escape Your Shadow
Your judgments are the way that you unconsciously project your shadow onto others. Because you don’t want to look at your shadow, you try to get rid of it by projecting it outward. However, this strategy is completely ineffective. When you judge others, they don’t like it. They don’t accept your judgments and usually judge you back. You attack them and they attack you. You don’t succeed in getting rid of your self-judgment. You merely externalize it so that you get to look at it.
In the end you come face to face with all of the fear and shame reflected back to you through others. Projection is just a big mirror that shows you what you don’t want to look at. In other words, you cannot escape your shadow. You have to look at it. You have to encounter your wound.
Holding onto Your Judgments
None of your judgments is justified. This needs to be understood and accepted. Otherwise, you will live in denial.
When you try to justify your judgments you hold onto them. Only when you realize that your judgments are untrue
and unjustified, can you let them go. Holding onto your judgments reinforces the division in your psyche between persona and shadow. That means that you do not heal and experience your wholeness. Your shadow
Step Four is all about taking responsibility for the contents of your consciousness. Your judgments belong to you, not to anyone else. You are asked to see and own your judgments as they come up, see the unworthiness behind them, and bring love to the wounded child within.
• First you take others off the hook. You see the judgment. Then you own it and refrain from projecting it onto
• Second you take yourself off the hook. You see your judgment as a call for love and acceptance, and you learn to
bring love to the unworthy and wounded parts of yourself.
By taking responsibility for the judgment, you are able to bring correction and forgiveness. And you are able to hear
and respond to the call for love from the wounded child within yourself.
Experiential Practice for Step Four
Notice the judgments that you make about others. Many people think that judgments are bad and we should make
them go away. But I can tell you from experience that this strategy doesn’t work. If you try to make your judgments go
away, they will either intensify, or they will go underground.
When judgments “go underground” they drop out of your awareness. It doesn’t mean that you have stopped judging. It just means that you are not aware of your judgments. So you walk around pretending that you don’t have any judgments when you have hundreds of them.
So take a deep breath and start looking at the contents of your consciousness. Don’t be afraid to see all the ways thatyou feel “less than” or “more than” others. I assure you that you aren’t the only one who is feeling like this.
The more you observe your judgments, the more you begin to see how many layers of judgment there are in your consciousness.First you judge, and then you judge your judgment. You beat yourself up for being judgmental, and so the downward spiral of judgment continues. You have to catch this spiral somewhere. At some point you have to say, “Okay. I see I’m judging. It’s okay. It’s no big deal. We all do it. My job is just to be aware of my judgments and hold them compassionately.”
If you stay with this process of observing your judgments, you begin to ask, “What’s behind this judgment?” Invariably you will find it is some form of shame or fear inside of you. Now you are coming closer to your wound. And that is what needs to be healed. It’s not the judgment that you need to focus on — because all judgments of others or yourself are untrue and unjustified — it’s the wound that causes the judgment. It is the pain that you are attempting to externalize and project outward onto others.
Behind your pain and discomfort is a needfor some love and acceptance. You can realize that and give yourself self some love right now. This brings the judgment trail to its end. It cancels your projection of your shame and unworthiness onto others. Instead, you are able to confront these feelings directly.
Steps to Follow in Owning Your Judgments
Here are the steps to follow in owning your judgments.
1. Become aware of your judgments.
2. Don’t beat yourself up for having judgments.
3. Realize that your judgment is not accurate and can’t be justified.
4. Own the judgment. Understand that it’s ultimately about you, not about the other person.
5. See that your judgment of yourself is not true either.
6. See the fear or feeling of unworthiness behind the judgment.
7. Hold your fear with love and compassion.
If you are able to go through this whole process, you will not only become aware of your judgments, you will also be
able to release them. In the process, you will tune into some of your childhood wounds and begin to bring healing to
yourself and integration to your psyche. Most importantly, you will begin to learn how to hold your fears in a loving and
compassionate way. This is a foundational spiritual practice.
Step Four Teaching Video
Homework for Step Four
Important Questions to Ask Yourself
- Judgment is the mechanism by which you project your shadow qualities onto others. Every time you judge someone else, your job is to see the judgment and inquire into what it says about you. Who are the three people you judge the most and what is your judgment about them? Exaggerate your judgments if necessary to articulate them clearly.)
Person’s Name My Judgment about him/her
- Who do you put up on a pedestal? Who do you look down on? (Remember judgments can be positive or negative. You can see others as more or less worthy than you.)
- How can you take these people off the hook and make this be about you, not about them?
- By looking at what you project (don’t like or accept about others), can you see mirrored back to you aspects of yourself that you have trouble liking or accepting?
- Can you look behind the judgment and see how you feel scared or unsafe?
- Can you feel the pain or discomfort behind the judgment and tune into the wounded child within who needs your reassurance and love?