Saga of the Saboteurs – The Judge

silhouette of person raising its hand

Written by Katie


Tell the truth now, just how judgy are you?

Let’s face it, we’re all pretty judgmental people.

I like to think I’m easy-going and open-minded, but I can also be pretty darn judgmental.

And I’m guessing you can be too.

Think about it.

“Wow, that was stupid!” When you realise you have no idea how far 200m actually is and took the turn before the one your GPS meant you to.

“What on earth is he/she wearing?” When you see someone dressed in a way that somehow offends your sensibilities.

“Why am I still single?” Well, when you’re single and don’t like it.

Every time you call yourself names or judge yourself harshly for something you’re doing now or you’ve done in the past, that’s you judging yourself.

Every time you hone in on someone’s differences and choose to see them as somehow being inferior to you in some way, you’re judging another person.

Every time you see an outcome or a circumstance as bad, you’re judging that circumstance or outcome.

That little (or maybe not so little) voice in your head that is constantly giving negative feedback in some way or another?

That’s the voice of your Judge.

And it’s time to call them out.

Because as much as they make up part of who we are, they’re not good for us.

In fact, they’re often the cause of negative feelings swirling up like envy, dissatisfaction, anxiety, shame, and guilt to name a few.

All those not-so-good feels.

From an evolutionary standpoint, the Judge developed to ensure we stayed alive.

We needed to be able to discern what was safe to eat, whether danger was coming so we could retreat to safety, and so on. We needed to develop sound judgment.

What evolution didn’t take into account was just how many false alarms our Judge would throw at us. Or the fact that in this day and age, my mushrooms come pre-packaged from a store and are unlikely to kill me. Also, not much of a chance that I’m about to be run over by a herd of rampaging wildebeest (although, honestly, if you’re in the middle of the Masaai Mara during the migration this could actually be a thing).

The point being, that the Judge evolved to ensure we survived.

Now because we’re all unique, we all have very specific survival needs which mean our Judges all evolve differently.

But broadly speaking, they show up in any of the three ways I already mentioned:

You judge yourself;

You judge other people or

You judge your circumstances or outcomes.

Any one of those or any of them in combination, any of the time.

Photo by Kzenon on Shutterstock

So for instance, I have a client whose Judge comes out most strongly when faced with women dressed in a way she would consider provocative.

She instinctively dismisses them as “attention-seeking bad girls”.


Because she grew up in an ultra-conservative Christian household where any hint of sensuality was seen as a precursor to eternal damnation and hellfire.

So to avoid eternal torment, her Judge evolved to ensure that rather than seeing herself as the outlier (which would have made it hard for her to navigate through life) she saw other people who dressed or behaved that way as inherently flawed.

Despite now being an adult and breaking away from that lifestyle, her Judge still makes that link and association even though intellectually, she doesn’t believe it.

We all have things that helped develop the strength of our Judge, whether we know what they are or not.

Initially, the Judge’s role is helpful, it only becomes a problem when we can’t see that its view no longer serves us.

Or that its presence is causing us to feel internally conflicted or even creating conflict with others.

The thing about the Judge is, that they’re a master at convincing us that we can’t do without them.

“You know you only succeed if you push yourself and don’t allow for any slip-ups.”

“Let’s just go through that to-do list one more time. So what if it’s 3 am and I should be sleeping?”
 “If this pitch doesn’t go according to plan tomorrow, my career will be over”

Hello, perfectionism! Yep, that’s your Judge.

“Don’t be like those party animals they’re never going to succeed. If you’re like them you’ll never succeed either. You need my voice of reason to protect yourself and the best way to do that is to realise just how foolish/useless/clueless other people are” Yep, that’s your Judge too.

“Well if you don’t feel bad about how utterly awful your life is going to turn out to be then you’ll never do anything to change so you need to see just how bad it is.” You guessed right, your Judge again.

Is any of this sounding familiar, friends?

How strong is your Judge and what types of things are they likely to judge?

Have you ever asked yourself why?

This article is the first in a series based on one of the coaching tools that I use in my practice known as Positive Intelligence.

Created by Shirzad Chamine, it’s a framework designed to maximise people’s potential by helping them to enhance their best qualities while also helping them learn how to minimise and quiet the qualities that stand in their way.

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