“Hey Judgment – I’m not choosing you anymore. You are not a priority in my life. You don’t get to take up space in my world. You don’t get to make my reality heavy anymore.” ~ Cory Michelle
Self-judgments can block us from making good decisions, blind us from other possibilities and, in essence, stop us from success and joy. Someone could see us as smart, capable, and successful yet inside we have self-doubts and our negative self-talk has us making ourselves wrong.
“The mind’s ability to generate such judgments is very powerful, because it’s working off old neural programming that must be rewritten again and again before new, more wholesome thought processes can become habitual,” says Dr. Ronald Alexander, writing for Conscious Lifestyle Magazine.
What if you aren’t wrong — and you don’t make the other person wrong? What if your choice, which didn’t work out for you, led you to make another choice that works much better for you? Henry Ford said, “The only real mistake is the one from which you learn nothing.”
Even as mature adults, we still can struggle with that old programming, those old stories that have us judge ourselves as wrong. Our teens are just developing ‘wholesome thought processes,’ and it is our job as parents to be a positive guide for them.
Self-judgment often comes up in decision-making. For example, did you know that 1/3 of college students change their major at least once? Often students who change majors make themselves wrong because they didn’t choose the “right” major to begin with. This certainly kills joy and confidence and can stir up even more self-judgment.
The thought of changing majors creates anxiety, and many students conclude that they have to stick with their major because they or their parents have already spent so much money on their education. They are scared to change because they wonder:
What will my parents say? Will they say I’m lazy, a failure, or I just don’t follow through with my decisions?
What’s worse is that even if parents don’t say or judge their college student, some students make these judgments about themselves anyway. The old ‘neural programming’ can run deep.
Having invested so much time and money in their education, students often choose to persevere in a major even if it doesn’t light them up. The result? They experience Struggle versus Ease. Misery versus Happiness. Lack of Motivation versus Passionate Dedication. The inevitable conclusion is Failure versus Success.
As if this agony isn’t enough, they may go on after graduation to pay a higher price by working in a career that is not fulfilling for them. They may continue to believe — and to reinforce — that their judgment is not good and they can’t change their career, when in fact many people do change career paths completely once college ends or at other stages of their professional lives.
What can you do?
Parents can be a loving and experienced sounding board for their children. Here are some effective approaches:
Explore different interests and passions with your high school or college student by asking them questions about different career paths. A great question is: “If you knew you could not fail, what would you pursue or be?”
Ask them questions to help them think through their judgment and decision process. Ask them what conclusion they are making that stops them from pursuing their interests? What is their greatest fear about choosing X, Y or Z?
Share your wisdom. Let them know that growth and success are often on the other side of fear. “Fear” has been described as “False Evidence Appearing Real” (source unknown).
Let them know that college is a time for exploration of various interests, and then a choice can be made as to a major.
Let them know it’s okay if they choose a different major in college than the one originally intended. They are not alone, lazy, or a failure.
Let them know that money follows happiness and not the other way around. Choosing a field of study that creates joy will get them motivated and help them to become more successful in school and life. The money will follow.
Let them know that even if a change means another year in college and more money invested, it is better than a lifetime of misery in a career that doesn’t fulfill them.
As parents, we so often presume our teens and young adults have considered the above questions or they are common knowledge, but rarely is this the case. It is natural for us to think this way because we have had so many years of experience which we take for granted. It is our job as a parent, then, to help our teens and college students sort through some of these things, to think more long term, and to help them to stop making themselves wrong for mistakes or their choices in the moment.
Judgments rarely serve us. As humans, few of us will ever reach a point in life of never making judgments. But the more we can catch them, the more we can let them go; we can reframe them into a more growth-serving mindset and move on with a clearer vision to expand more into the land of possibilities.
What a wonderful gift the parent gives to their teen in helping them say: Goodbye Judgment. You are ebbing and my new flow is ‘What else is possible in my life?’
For more strategies to step out of self-judgment and to become an Unstoppable parent and/or teen, check out my best seller, “Unstoppable Teens: A Parent and Teen Guide to Teen Empowerment, Fulfillment and Achievement”.