Judgment Detox: Release the Beliefs that Hold You Back from Living a Better Life
Book by Gabrielle Bernstein
“You’ve judged yourself five times, and you’ve only been here about 8 minutes.” My counselor told this to me in a not unkind way as I sat in a session. As someone diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and OCD, I wasn’t new to counseling. I wasn’t unaware of my judgment problem either, although the frequency during such a short timespan was a shock.
“Yeah, I tend to judge a lot,” I admitted.
“It starts with self-judgment, though.” My counselor informed me. I’ve noticed most counselors seem to find what they see as your most needed area of improvement and encourage you towards improving this. For this counselor, my judgment, nutrition, and lack of mindfulness were my biggest areas for improvement.
Because of that counseling session, I picked up the book The Judgment Detox by Gabrielle Bernstein. Let me tell you – my counselor was right about the judgment thing because this book hit home for me in a palpable way.
The line from the book I found most impactful and revealing was a prayer/reminder to use. Bernstein says it is from Lesson 243 of A Course on Miracles.
“Today, I will judge nothing that occurs” (p.103).
Let that simmer for a moment. Try even saying it out loud. It’s so meaningful for me because I never do this. Bernstein encourages us in the book that even just a few minutes of judgment-less living is better than where we were before and an accomplishment.
One of the first activities is to ask yourself four questions about judgments in your life:
- What or whom am I judging?
- How does this judgment make me feel?
- Why do I feel justified in this judgment?
- What moment in my life triggered me to feel justified in this judgment?
Bernstein encourages readers to start with any random judgments and provides examples of her own judgments. She reminds us that sometimes it might feel like our brain gets foggy when we start to reveal where our judgments come from and, if that happens, it is okay to go at our own pace.
I did this activity, and while it is one of those that can be hard to start, it provided amazing results. I actually felt like I released judgments. But what was really nice about it was the feeling it gave. You know when you’re anxious or have had a stressful week? And all those invisible knots seem to form in your head or neck? It felt like those untied themselves. That was so helpful for me.
At the end, she circles back to this and offers a path to forgiveness which is another meaningful activity.
One of my favorite quotes that cuts to the core is this: “When you find yourself judging, recognize that the judgment is not what you think it is – it is just a way to try to avoid feeling pain, acknowledging past trauma, and exposing wounds” (p. 95).
As for the book overall, I love how quotable it is and how many phrases and exercises she supplied to help us work toward releasing judgment and offering forgiveness. She is a relatable and honest author who didn’t act like she had it all together or was perfect.
One negative for me was the new-agey spiritual suggestions and activities offered in the book. Bernstein referred to seeking higher powers such as God, Buddha, your inner voice, or the universe interchangeably. She also offers a lot of prayer ideas that felt overly open-ended. As someone with pretty firm Christian beliefs, some aspects of this were great, but other parts didn’t click for me. However, I believe she is respectful of all religious and non-religious beliefs, so I wouldn’t want this to deter anyone because the book was really insightful.
Another negative is that the book can pull up some ugly stuff, whether it be past trauma or, for me, realizations of toxic judgments I seem to hold on to like an extra hair binder when I already have one in my hair (i.e., there’s no point). This can be tough and doesn’t always elicit a desire to go back to the book. It might also end up being a book where you want or need a counselor to work through some of the things that come up.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who has experienced toxic judgment of themselves or others because it provides a way to start the healing process and move past judgment.
Disclaimer: I have no relationship with the author, nor am I receiving compensation for the review. All opinions are my own.
About the Author: Trixie Hall writes about managing OCD, depression, and anxiety with the hope it will help you feel heard, understood, and not alone. Hall lives in Minnesota with her hubby and mischievous cat named Canon. When she isn’t writing, Hall loves to read historical fiction, watch The Late Late Show with James Corden and take naps.
The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios only.
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