Photo of J'aime ona Pangaia

The Moralistic Protector against Judgment

by J'aime ona Pangaia
Copyright 2013


Moralistic: having or showing strong opinions about what is right behavior and what is wrong behavior. - Merriam Webster dictionary
There’s a type of Protector that assumes a moral stance that admonishes people not to judge others; it does so on behalf of a very wounded vulnerable self. Thou Shalt Not Judge! Hidden beneath this powerful messenger is likely a very sensitive and hurt inner child that has been scathed, burned and rejected by familial or societal criticism. There’s no doubt that this was /is a tragedy that is not to be minimized by the fact of how common a human occurrence this is. The more emphatic and inflexible the protector, the more severe the wounding. This is also a good example of what Carl Jung called ‘a complex’: “A complex is a core pattern of emotions, memories, perceptions, and wishes in the personal unconscious organized around a common theme, such as power or status.*
This kind of inner protector can often assume a spiritual tone as a way to elevate its message. Now the message seems unassailable, since it is, after all, a spiritual message. God, Buddha, the Universal Being - doesn’t want us to judge. It says so “here’, written in this spiritual text.
There are a couple of points to be made about this type of Protector. First, it is unwittingly judgmental itself. The Moralistic Protector judges judgmental people or behaviors. Because judgmental people are seen as ‘bad’, because people can be hurt by judgments, this type of protector feels morally entitled to judge those people who are being judgmental. Usually the irony is missed and what takes place is that one’s own judgmental nature, now disavowed, has disappeared into unconscious territory and from there is projected onto others. “Those judgmental people out there really bug me!!”
Second, anytime time we set up a value system for how one should be, that action by itself disowns its opposite. “You should be THIS way, not THAT way.” If your rule is that people should be an open and honest person, then hiding one’s feelings, or telling a lie is wrong, and should be judged. Some part of you might be thinking right now, “But, wait a minute it IS wrong to lie!”
Let me give you some scenarios to consider. I invite you to remember times you may have lied out of kindness, or to protect yourself from a person who meant you harm. One of the pleasures of certain types of games and sports (from poker to basketball) is that to be successful, you must be skillful at well placed bluffs and deceptions. We collectively agree to tell small children that Santa Claus is paying attention to their behavior and he comes bearing gifts on Christmas Eve and the Easter bunny brought those chocolate eggs and jellybeans. People also inadvertently lie because they are out of touch with the complex range of their feelings, or they don’t want to admit them. It’s much simpler to tell your partner that you empathize with them that they lost their job (“Oh you poor dear!”) rather than to say, “Part of me is sad for your loss and the difficulty you now face and part of me is now afraid for our financial welfare and part of me is angry that you couldn’t maintain your job and part of me is happy to spend more time with you and part of me is jealous that you have more free time now and part of me...” Are you lying (and hiding the truth) if you don’t say all this? Are you being judgmental if you feel or say these things? Are you a bad person for now breaking your rule that you shouldn’t lie or hide your feelings? Should you be judged for that by yourself or others for breaking the rule that people should be open and honest?
Because we are identified with *this* value and not *that* value, or we’re identified with this self and not that self, and depending on how strongly we identify with certain inner selves, we will reject and judge the opposites. For example, a strongly responsible person will reject their own impulses to engage in what it considers ‘irresponsible’ behavior. And they will reject those behaviors in others as well. But let’s see what an ‘irresponsible’ person would say about themselves? It’s most likely, in a neutral or positive light. They may say, “I’m not irresponsible, I’m relaxed; I trust things can work out fine without me needing to exert control at all times. I’m a playful and free -spirit. I have my own inner time-table and process for taking care of things. I’m flexible. I am independent and do things my own way. However you responsible people are quite uptight and controlling (not to mention, judgmental - of me!) You are untrusting and regimented and no fun!”
There are subtleties we miss when we live by and are identified with certain rules (“Thou shalt not...” which also implies, ‘I must be thus.”) We miss the difference between not liking a behavior and rejecting the person. If we are identified with a behavior (I AM responsible) and someone else doesn’t like that behavior, now we feel WE are rejected and judged. We are unable, due to our identification to differentiate between our sense of our own being and the behaviors we’ve engaged in and we assume this is true for the other person. If they don’t like this behavior, they don’t like me. This brings us to one of the great values of self-awareness, or consciousness work, such as Voice Dialogue. We develop the capacity to recognize that WHAT I AM can never be reduced to this or that behavior. I am not (ultimately) responsible, I can express myself responsibly. I am not essentially a free spirit, I can express myself in a free spirited way. I have both and I cannot be reduced to one or the other. What I AM is not judgmental, yet I can judge. What I Am not accepting, yet I have the ability to accept.
Now we can turn a corner. The issue isn’t that people should not judge. Of course people will, because we all live through selves that we are more or less identified with at any given moment. The more harshly people judge, the more disowned the self is within. Judgment is what we all engage in when we disown parts of ourselves.
Rather than admonish or ‘teach’ other people to not judge, it is more fruitful is to look for our own judgmental self and begin to investigate its judgments. This will lead us into very challenging psychological inner work. This is sometimes called “shadow work.” Through this work, we begin to face a greater dimension of our own complex humanity and thus begin an amazing journey towards wholeness of being. We begin to take back our projections that we have cast onto other people (THEY are the judgmental ones) and we develop graciousness towards our own perfectly imperfect human nature. We begin to transcend fixed ideas of right or wrong and embrace ‘both/and’. We begin to honor the emergent revelation of what ‘belongs’ to me in this moment and allow ourselves our essentially changing nature. As we do all this within ourselves, we are naturally in a better position to grant and see this in others as well.
References:
ona Pangaia, J., (2012) An Introduction to Voice Dialogue, Finding the Benefit of People Who Bug You, Oregon: Heart of the Garden Publishing
Stone & Stone, (2000) Judgment and what to do with it, CA, posted on http:// www.voicedialogue.org/reading-stone.htm
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complex_