By Paige Abbott, Registered Psychologist
How come it is so easy to point the finger to what other people are doing ‘wrong’, strangely, or unhealthily? It is particularly easy for the disease of Addiction to get trapped in judgment of others and focus on their perceived flaws and shortcomings. Judgment comes with an emotional reaction, usually something like anger, resentment, annoyance, or irritation. At least on the surface. Under the surface, what is really connected to judgment is fear and shame. Fear that perhaps we are like that, have done that, or could be like that. Shame is what this says about us as people.
Many people in recovery find group therapy and 12-Step meetings particularly challenging for this reason. Their disease wants to pull them into reactivity towards others, when the challenge and opportunity is to turn the mirror back to yourself and look at the lessons. When you find yourself reacting and being in judgment of someone else, I would encourage you to ask:
– What does this reaction tell me about myself?
– What parts of them do I see in myself?
– How does this feel?
If we were completely comfortable and centred within ourselves, there would not be judgment or reaction to others as we would be able to see that is them, and that is their issue. The reaction comes because we are seeing something that triggers our own insecurities. The disease will want you to continue focusing on them, “if only they would change…” but the opportunity is to look at “what would I like to change?”
Letting go of judgment and looking within are the keys to empathy, compassion, and understanding which are cornerstones of recovery.