Fear of judgement is self-inflicted suffering

Saturday, Feb 10, 2018 1620 words 7 mins 12 secs
An A Course in Miracles Blog  © 2018 Paul West

I used to attack myself pretty severely through the fear of being judged by others. I was painfully shy and perceived a need to withdraw in an effort to protect myself, but all this did was hurt myself deeply.

My shyness was a coping mechanism for protecting my sensitivity. I had failed to learn how to express myself fully, and it didn't help that I was an introvert. I had trouble learning social skills and asserting myself. Every social interaction was literally painful.

I did not realize what I was doing to myself. My perception was that other people were perceiving me in a certain way, which I was simply trying to get away from.

After a social encounter, particularly one with strangers or where I had to go into someone else's home or be surrounded by a crowd, I would feel deeply, deeply hurt. I would become strongly embarrassed in the midst of the situation, would tense up, become very quiet (paralyzed) and experience things as though everyone was judging me.

I would return home with a very very deep inner emotional pain, a feeling of "hurt", that was so strong I had no choice but to have a deep cry in order to deal with it. Every social encounter seemed like a total failure and something I did not want to be a part of, making me avoid them even more. It was deeper and stronger than any other emotional upset about any other situation in life. It felt absolutely horrible.

When strangers would even walk past I would immediately cringe and feel attacked. I suspected they were a threat, and saw them as enemies or someone I did not want to be around. They seemed to have power over me and I hid away and withdrew in an effort to avoid people.

I had no idea what was happening in my perception or what I was doing to myself. I only thought that other people were hurting me and causing me to feel like shit. It seemed to all be their fault, and they were the ones who we being judgmental.

But over time I have gradually, slowly learned, that this is not the case. It was difficult to come to realize this.

I saw that I was in fact judging everyone else. I saw them as judged in some way, although this seemed to be subtler and concealed behind my reaction to this perception. Seeing them as judgers automatically meant I was judged by them and therefore at their effect. The effects this produced in my own self was the deep hurt.

I had to realize that in order to see them as judgers, I had to believe they were the ones being judgmental, which was in fact my own belief. I was making them out to be judgers. And that meant, I was simultaneously judging my own self by seeing myself in the role of "judged" by them.

It never really had anything to do with other people judging me either. In fact, probably in 99% of cases they were not being judgmental at all. They were not even interested. They weren't saying anything about me or pointing a finger or anything. But I had this "mental illness" of strongly believing that I couldn't go anywhere without being under attack. And it wouldn't matter if someone pointed out that no-one really cared to judge me because they were too busy with their own selfish interests, I couldn't see it.

What I was really doing was seeing myself as judge-worthy, disassociating a part of my mind and projecting it onto others, seeing them as the judger rather than myself, and then creating the effects within myself that correspond to how I perceived others to be perceiving me. I literally was hurting myself. The hurt I did to myself was far worse than anything anyone else ever did, and it was all because of how I was mis-perceiving.

Underneath this fear of judgement there was a belief that I deserved to be judged, because I believed I had sinned and was guilty. I didn't see myself as worthy of love and therefore perceived that others agreed with me. My direct self-attack turned into indirect self-attack that appeared to be coming at me from other people, but was really coming at me from within a part of my mind that I did not recognize as myself.

I was being both the judger of myself, and the one who was judged. Or in other words, a victimizer and a victim. I played both roles but only saw myself as playing the victim role, and unfairly so. The mere act of perceiving oneself in a victim role automatically creates effects in yourself, typically emotional reactions which try to correspond to the causes that you see as outside of yourself. Because I saw others as judging me severely, I felt severely hurt. Truth is, both the perception that others were judging and the hurtful effects of the judgement were both put in place simultaneously by myself.

I needed to forgive myself. And this has taken a very long time and it's been a very gradual slow process. Over the years, a sense of being separate from others has diminished. A sense of being trapped in myself has diminished. A sense of frustration at not being able to fully express has diminished. A sense of it not being okay to simply be the way I am has diminished. In fact, recently there has been a growing, wonderful freedom, of finally not giving a fuck.

This funnily enough manifested in recent hairstyles. It suddenly became fun to play with looking ugly, rather than trying to look pleasing. And I don't mean this ugliness is another judgement, just that, I've found myself being really "ok" with looking whatever way I look without it meaning anything or causing a judgement.

This is so freeing. It now becomes more of a "playful" experience, where it doesn't matter one way or another, and where I'm growing stronger in my willingness to present myself in whatever way I like without caring (worrying) about what people will think of it.

You may have noticed over time that in my writing I now swear a lot more often. I used to be so repressed that I would never swear, and thought I was more special or holier than others by not doing so. It's now more of a pleasure to swear. To some this may seem like I'm turning 'evil' but that's not the case. I'm becoming more authentic and more myself, censoring myself less and recognizing that I am free.

Taking responsibility for everything I am experiencing shows me that I can only be upset if I hurt myself, no-one else is the cause of what I feel, and therefore I am set free of concern for massive people pleasing or not showing up fully as myself. I was trying to be everyone but myself, to be something I am not, and to disown myself. There is nothing but pain and suffering there when we do that.

There are some people out there especially those who are painfully shy, who appear on the surface to be sweet and nice but have a strong persona, a facade of everything being alright all the time when underneath there is a searing self hatred and repression and sense of unworthiness and of not being "allowed" to do anything. It's a state of self imprisonment. I still at times struggle with limiting myself and Holy Spirit having to remind me "you are allowed". I often thought I was imprisoned by someone else in life, but really it was my own doing.

Some of these people who are suffering from self-inflicted unworthiness and quiet suffering, turn to suicide as an escape. My own life became one of depression and despearation and a growing feeling that I was approaching some kind of "end". If I had not met my wife at about that time I probably wouldn't be here.

A sense of an "end" was a sense of intense separation, isolation and being cut off from everyone. I was ostracized "by society" for an earlier "accident", but really it was a way for me to do this to myself, to give me a good reason why I should suffer in silence and be unhappy. I have had to crawl out of my own self-inflicted hell-hole. Some people are not able to do this. There was a guy at my workplace who was similarly shy who no one would suspect was suffering painfully every day through false perceptions, and he shot himself.

I am thankful for the Holy Spirit and Jesus who have helped me immensely to come out of my nightmares and into a happier place. I still have work to do but everything keeps heading in the direction of heaven. A Course in Miracles has been a God-send in terms of correcting my perceptual distortions and helping me to undo the grossly self-inflicted false beliefs that torture and condemn from the inside out. I am so different to how I used to be now that I don't recognize myself in photos.

Freedom and relief from suffering comes from the recognition of what we are doing to ourselves. We are the ones who need to forgive ourselves and undo our own self attack. There is a way out of hell, because we are the only ones keeping us in hell. No-one is keeping us here but ourselves. Fear of judgement is secretly the fear of being judged by God, which is an attempt not to go Home by justifying self attack. But there is a better way. And that means, if we will become willing, we can go Home to God and be happy. Thank God for that!

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