Every one of us struggles with judgment. We judge other people's politics, tweets, parenting choices—maybe so often that we don't even notice anymore. It's just a habit. But as someone in her 12th year of sobriety, I believe the cycle of judgment is more like an addiction.

Judging gives you a hangover. When we judge, we get an instant hit of self-righteousness, but subconsciously we know we're separating ourselves from who we really are: compassionate, kind people. As a result, we feel guilty once our high wears off—and to avoid that feeling, we have to judge someone else. This cycle weakens us mentally and physically.

Judging isolates you. We develop addictions because we're trying to numb a core wound, which is usually rooted in childhood. Maybe someone told you that you weren't good enough, or you experienced some other kind of trauma that left you feeling all alone. To avoid experiencing that pain again, you project it onto others by pointing out their flaws. Our fear leads us to attack—but reenacting the trauma of the past only creates more loneliness and disconnection.

Judging prevents healing. You have to be willing to look at your darkness in order to see the light. That's why the first step in a judgment detox is just to witness it without blaming ourselves. We judge because we're separated from love; to stop the cycle, we have to cultivate self-love. The second step is to honor that core wound. Next time you have the urge to judge, ask yourself what moment from the past is triggering you to feel this way. When we can understand ourselves, healing begins.

Judging leaves you powerless. Many people feel safer when they judge, as if they're controlling their circumstances, but hatred only creates more hatred. Those hours you might spend fuming about the news, for instance, could be used in a more positive way, like volunteering for a cause you care about, engaging in creative projects or spending quality time with people you love. Recovering from judgment addiction gives us back our power and lifts up everyone around us, too.

To heal the world, we have to live the truth in every corner of our lives. Recovery isn't easy—but when we let go of judgment, we make room for love and joy. It's like staying sober: You can't really enjoy a drink again because you know how good it feels to live without it.


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