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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Rauch, Ph. D.

Shift Judgment to Compassion

Updated: Nov 30, 2018

How compassionate are you to your self? I don’t know about you, but I am hard on myself. I know acting compassionate to myself is better for me but I still find it difficult to change my attitude. Fortunately, I just read a passage * that makes me want to change my attitude. I think it might help you, too

Know when you are judging so you can sew up your heart!

Quote from Every Day, Holy Day:

*WHOEVER HAS COMPASSION on people, they will have mercy on him in Heaven” (Talmud, Shabbat 151b). This means that showing compassion for a fellow human being arouses the reservoirs of Heavenly mercy, which catalyzes God to sit on the Throne of Compassion, rather than on the Throne of Strict Justice. —RABBI ELIYAHU SCHLESSINGER (B. 1949).

Recognize When You Judge

When we judge ourselves harshly, we are the ones causing God to sit on the “Throne of Strict Justice” to us! I don’t want to do that to myself and I bet you don’t either.

How do we shift our attitudes from judgmental to compassionate? I suggest recognizing when you are judgmental and then doing something about it.

I recognize my internal process and found the following to be true when I make a mistake:

I I get angry I make a mistake.

2. I call myself “bad” for not living up to my perfect standard

3. I feel scared because I feel shame for believing I’m bad.

4. I defend myself against believing I’m bad.

5. This defense against a false belief and shame causes my body to tighten and hurt me.


As a massage therapist and body worker, I know

pain begins where movement stops.

I don’t want to cause myself pain and I bet you don’t either. But I just recognized my steps and know I tighten, stopping my flow, because of automatic judgment! What am I doing to myself? You might ask yourself the same question. My above steps might help you name your recognize your internal steps too. Let’s go do something about this habit.

The Secret Weapon

The fear of habitual judgment has conditioned our sweet instinctual bodies to defend themselves, conditioning us to tighten muscles, creating body armor that hurts.

But I have a secret weapon I will not keep secret….The nerves tell the muscles what to do! Since we know how this happens we can stop it.

We will work directly with the nervous system to get the body to stop hurting us. We can teach ourselves to open and find ease in our body in order to shift our judgmental responses to compassionate ones.

Exercise to Recognize Your Internal Process

1. Remember a time you made a mistake and write it down on a piece of paper.

2. What was your immediate reaction when you made that mistake?

• What did you say to yourself?

• What did your jaw do?

• What did your hands do? Your right hand, your left hand?

• What did your thighs do?

• What did your toes and buttocks do?

You might even be doing some these things now as you recall this past reactivity.

Exercise to shift into Ease

Find a place you can relax, either the floor, a bed or a chair to soften your body.

Breathe out

Soften your eyes or close them

Put your hands on your belly

Breathe out and soften your hands

Lift your right hand and put it back on your belly

Breathe out and soften your hand

Allow your hand to act like an ear and listen to your belly

Allow your belly to let go

You may hear gurgling in your belly or feel an itch on your body.

These are signs you are letting go.

Lift your left hand and put it back on your belly

Soften your hand

Soften your eyes

Feel the temperature under your hand.

Notice your lips

Feel their tightness

Gently pucker your lips

Let them go

How does this affect your belly?

Let your whole body relax.

Gently pucker your lips again

Can you feel changes in your hands?

How does this affect your belly?

As you soften your hands can you feel changes in your lips?

If you feel no change, enjoy the stability.

Continue to explore softness in your hands

Softness in your belly

Softness in your lips.

How do these parts of you interact with each other?

Let your whole body relax

Has the harsh tone you originally had shifted?

Do this exploration as long as you like.

You can come back to this anytime you want.

The Gates of Heaven

After you participated in the above exercise, did you find an easier flow within yourself?

Recalling the above mistake, do you feel a little more forgiving aka “forward giving” to yourself than you before you gave yourself a relaxing moment?

If we are not afraid, we have a natural flow of life, poetically speaking, this easy flow might be considered moving through the “gates of heaven.”

The next time you recognize you're judging yourself or feeling shameful, don’t put up with it. Practice the above exercise or any other method to shift your nervous system and discover a more compassionate attitude towards yourself.

If this article has impacted you, leave a comment below or drop me a line and let me know. If you would like more information on how I work with clients, contact me at, and we can discuss setting up an appointment or finding someone in your area who might be able to support you.

Stephanie Rauch has a Ph.D. in Counselor education, is a licensed professional counselor and a licensed massage therapist in North Carolina.


* Every Day, Holy Day: 365 Days of Teachings and Practices from the Jewish Tradition of Mussar (p. 117) by Alan Morinis).

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