Disguised as a message of personal responsibility, the judge’s statement is indignant, dismissive, and harsh. In fact, it backfires. Instead of creating a view of personal responsibility as healthy and attainable, he wrapped it in a cloak of shame and inadequacy, which just creates resistance in the listener. It says: “Don’t you dare even ASK for what you need, or I will put you in your place (aka:demean you)” Yes, it is constructive to hold people accountable – but not delivered like this.
On the bright side, the judge’s behavior does help keep him in business.
I couldn’t help but wonder about this judge. Where did HE first hear this derogatory tone? Perhaps his life was full of people in positions of power delivering that message to him. It would naturally follow that he’d choose this profession. Finally he gets to switch seats and judge others for a change!
Taking personal responsibility is, in fact, a very healthy way to live- for both individuals and societies. The most effective way to effect personal responsibility is to remove shame and judgement. The more we feel judged, the more our internal safety mechanisms arm our defenses, chasing us away from responsibility and towards external blame. Under the attack of shame, we are desperate to preserve our sense of self at all costs.
Now, for the purposes of this post, I’m going to assume that the desired outcome is what the judge suggests- teenagers find their own entertainment without community help.
Imagine how you would feel and behave if your boss said this to you as a salesperson:
“What? You’re asking for sales brochures? I don’t owe you sales brochures! Why don’t you give ME sales brochures! Just get out there and cold call, beat the pavement, give the pitch and get your sales numbers up!”
Now imagine he said this instead:
“Yes, I see how sales brochures would help you boost your commissions. Unfortunately, I can’t give you any. We need our salespeople to create their own materials. Here are suggested websites that can help you do that.”
Often, we are our own worst judge. We unwittingly echo back compassion-less criticism that we heard somewhere along the way. Allowing this voice air time in our heads just increases our resistance. What if you could quiet that inner judge, and allow the supportive, compassionate voice some radio play? Maybe you’d be happy to run out and mow somebody’s lawn.
What do you think? I’d love to know. Post comments below…
Tapping Guide for this topic:
If the judge quoted in the article came in to see me, without knowing anything about him, here are some tapping phrases I’d suggest for him. You can adapt these to a situation where you are overly harsh on yourself or someone else:
“Mom/Dad yelled when I asked for ______”
“Mom/Dad had that tone of voice when I asked for ____”
“Mom/Dad had that look on her/his face when I asked for___”
“I have to do it all myself”
“It’s not ok to ask for help”
Sometimes, an extreme reaction in one direction can indicate that the opposite may actually be true (a la Shakespeare’s “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”)
“I can’t help these kids”
“I feel guilty that I had more support than they do”
“I feel guilty that education came easy for me”
“I feel overwhelmed by how many troubled kids come in here”
“I feel like I’m not doing a good job”
“I am overwhelmed by how big these social issues are”
“I feel like a failure when the same kid comes back to my court”
“I feel guilty I can’t give them a rec center”
“I don’t deserve the luxuries I have”