Healing: Why replacing self-judgment with curiosity is the first step


Many people come to yoga and meditation in search of healing. And nearly everyone is in the process of healing from something. It might be abusive relationships, eating disorders, difficult childhoods, or just feelings of low self-worth. The road to true healing can be a long one, and there will likely be discomfort along the way. We have to confront parts of ourselves we might not even know exist, and we have to get past the mental and emotional blocks that are holding us back. For many people, one of the biggest things standing in the way of healing is self-judgment. Deep healing can’t happen until that judgemental voice inside our heads is replaced by genuine curiosity.
Why Self-Judgment Is an Obstacle
Self-judgment is a huge contributor to everything that’s the opposite of healing. It plays a role in depression, anxiety, fear, anger, resentment, and more. Moving away from the tendency to self-judge can make a big positive impact on mental and emotional health, and that opens the door to deeper healing. Progressing toward healing also requires clarity. We need to see ourselves, the people around us, and the situations we encounter for what they are. We need to understand our true selves and deepest values. But engaging in self-judgment clouds our vision. We can only see the warped version of ourselves we’ve created through judgment. This is usually a version that we consider seriously flawed. Self-judgment can blind us to who we truly are, and we need to be able to see our truest selves in order to heal. Self-judgment not only clouds our vision, but also holds us back from personal growth and evolution. It can keep us within our comfort zone, encourage us to avoid taking risks and allow us to settle for something less than who we could become. Healing means becoming our best and truest selves, and that can’t happen if self-judgment is holding us back. Developing a sense of curiosity in place of self-judgment will combat these issues and help us move toward healing. It’s only when we get genuinely curious about ourselves that we can come to understand who we are.
How to Develop Curiosity
Replacing self-judgment with curiosity isn’t something that happens automatically. Instead, it’s more like a habit that takes time to develop. One of the simplest ways to cultivate curiosity is by intentionally experimenting. Try approaching a change in one aspect of your life – health, work, relationships, or something else – as an experiment. Seeing it that way will help you release any expectations or attachment to the results. Instead, you’ll be more open to whatever happens, and you’ll more naturally approach your experience with true curiosity. Committing to continuous learning can also help negate self-judgment and build curiosity. The more you learn about anatomy, psychology, or sociology, for example, the better you’ll understand the forces that shape you. And the more you understand, the easier it is to limit self-judgment. Healing can be a long road, and learning to release self-judgment in favor of curiosity is just one step – but it’s an important one. Sometimes in order to get past the initial hurdle, it’s helpful to start a committed practice that you stick to once per day. Making this commitment helps you measure progress and see the ups and downs with less attachment than if you’re not practicing consistently. Try having a look at the Vikasa Youtube channel, where we’ve posted tons of short and long practices to help you look inward and get curious!
About the Author
Jennifer Ambrose Jen is a freelance writer, blogger, and yoga teacher who left her office job in Boston to travel the world with her husband. She previously worked in international development and academic research, and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Rwanda. Some of her biggest passions include promoting responsible and mindful travel and helping her students develop their personal yoga practice.