Sisyphus, Boulder Rolling & Self-Judgement

When we learn that we cultivate our best lives from our messy humanity, we give ourselves permission to drop the self-judgment.  

I’ve been on an intense journey over the last few months that felt like I was shedding a part of my identity that had been with me for decades.  At times, the process was painful and confusing.  It felt like trying to shift destiny.  Aside from the philandering, tricking, and snake ear licking (you read that correctly), these last few months I felt like Sisyphus rolling a boulder up the hill that would pummel me on the way to the bottom where I’d restart the struggle.  

Now that I am able to see this experience in some new ways, I want to share what I am learning with all of you.

Nothing has gone wrong even though it feels like something is very wrong.  In hindsight, I see this painful boulder pushing as a sign of emergence and expansion. Psychologists call this “Phenomenological Empathy” which means that our judgments, even self-judgments, are designed to help us understand and categorize information so that we can navigate the world safely and efficiently.

Judgment is simply an organizing mechanism in our brain and we repeat for convenience.  Self-judgment is included in this system which means that when we think judgmental thoughts often, we train our brains to jump to those thoughts.  And, because our brains are so efficient, this categorizing becomes especially important when we go through a transition so that it can keep us “safe.”  The thing is that what has kept us safe in the past may no longer be the safety we desire. 

Humans evolve from past versions of our identity and we shift into new ones.  I decided with clear intention to create and claim new desires in my life.  What happened next was an unexpected and fully necessary resistance to my dreams.  It might sound antithetical but stick with me.  In order for me to move in the direction of my dreams, I needed to see the self-judgment as a light on all the areas where I didn’t feel worthy, where I felt shame and guilt, and where I felt old conditioning getting really loud in my nervous system and brain.  The more I tried to run from the discomfort or judge myself for what I was experiencing, the longer I stayed in the Sisyphean cycle.  I judged my judgment.  Fancy, right?

My internalized bits of patriarchy thought it was dangerous to lose their grip on my old programming.  My perfectionism (more judgment) returned with a renewed sense of purpose.  Oh, and my inner critic joined the party too.  It was like my nervous system was yelling “all hands on deck” to keep me safe in familiar ways when I was taking steps to move in the opposite direction.

If you decide that your dreams can become reality, you will probably bump up against some level of resistance.  You might find that you grapple with some old identity formation.  You might judge yourself for rolling that boulder yet another day. 

However, if we can accept that this uncomfortable process is the path to that vibrant life, then we can stop blaming ourselves. 

What if we realize that making different choices might activate old fears and judgments?

What if we notice the resistance as part of the transformation and accepted it as a beautiful sign of our courage to shift life?

What if we interpreted our transformation as natural as the tree cycles that blossom, grow, drop leaves, and go dormant? Sunlight triggers the bud break each spring. What if your self-judgment and boulder rolling are the sunlight that opens the blossoms to your desired life of liberation, love, and expansion?  

I don’t know who needs to hear this today, but it is possible to love the self-judgment.  You will tap into an unexpected wealth of compassion, creativity, and calm when you do.  Your shoulders will thank you and probably beg for a massage after all that physical labor.

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