Menu
Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!

Do You Judge the Person You Used to Be?

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” ~Mother Theresa

It was the second time I’d gone out to lunch with a new friend I met through this site.

We’d experienced some of the same things in life, and I instantly admired her attitude and perspective.

Sometimes when I meet up with people I’ve met through Tiny Buddha, I feel a sense of inner conflict. One the one hand, I want to live up to everything I imagine they expect of me.

I want to be positive, present, and upbeat—all qualities I aspire to embody in my life and through my work.

But I also want to be free to just be, in whatever state I find myself on that given day, without worrying about how I’m perceived.

That’s been my lifelong journey—learning to show up as I am, without fearing whether or not other people will accept that.

My greatest drive in my life is to be authentic. But if I’m not mindful, I can easily get in my own way.

As we sat chatting, I found myself feeling more and more comfortable, and relieved that after all the years I’d spent isolating myself, I’d finally learned to relax and be myself in the company of new people.

We broached the topic of crowds, something I’m pretty vocal about disliking. I made a sarcastic comment, something along the lines of “People are best in small doses.” I meant that I prefer intimate groups of people, but I immediately questioned how it came across.

That didn’t sound very Tiny Buddha-ish, I thought. Then I reminded myself, “She’ll know what I mean. Clearly I don’t hate people.”

I wasn’t quite so confident when she said, “Are people best from a computer screen, when you’re sitting alone in your living room?”

This hit me like a jolt to the stomach, completely knocking the wind out of me.

This is precisely what I did for most of my time living in New York—sit by myself, desperately wanting connection, but fearing what that would entail.

She likely had no intention of being hurtful—after all, she was still the same kind, giving person I admired so much—but her comment felt like a red-hot poker, jabbing at something raw and tender.

In that moment, I asked myself three questions: Why is this so raw? Why do I feel so defensive? What am I really afraid of?

When I dissected my feelings, I realized I’d internalized her comment to mean: I am the same person I was at my weakest, and if I’m not careful, people will see it and reject me. People will think that I’m a fraud and that I haven’t really changed at all.

It was based in the same limiting thinking that kept me isolated years ago—the fear that other people may judge me, and their judgments may be true.

At first, I reminded myself, “You are not the same person you were before. You’ve come such a long way, and that’s something to be proud of.”

But then I stopped myself and questioned my well-intentioned internal monologue. Was this really what I needed to hear—that I was so much better than my shameful former self?

Maybe what I really needed to hear was, “You are the same person—because the person you were before was beautiful and worthy of love, just as you are now. She was just at a different part of the journey.”

That’s the missing piece of this self-acceptance puzzle I’ve been making all these years. It’s not about fully believing I am better than I used to be. It’s about releasing the need to judge that person, because she is, in fact, still me.

I may have made poor choices before and I may have struggled more than I do now, but I was doing the best I could, based on where I was at that time. This was no reason to be ashamed of where I’d been.

It’s only in releasing shame about the past that we’re able to be free in the present.

I knew not to assume my new friend meant to be judgmental, but I realized then that even if she did, it would only have power over me if I judged myself.

So here’s my most recent admission and affirmation:

My name is Lori. I spent a ton of time sitting alone and self-destructing, feeling terrified of all of you. I sometimes still fear being judged, but I work every day to move beyond it. Still, that’s not why I am proud.

I am proud because I choose to validate myself—who I am, who I’ve been, and who I will be.

That, I believe, is the deepest kind of self-love. And we all deserve it.

Photo by sissilove31

Avatar of Lori Deschene

About Lori Deschene

Tiny Buddha Founder Lori Deschene is the author of the Tiny Wisdom eBook seriesTiny Buddha's Guide to Loving Yourself, and Tiny Buddha: Simple Wisdom for Life's Hard Questions. She's also co-founder of Recreate Your Life Story, an eCourse that helps you change your life. For inspiring posts and wisdom quotes, follow on Twitter & Facebook.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • Jas

    Beautiful post Lori!

    I have to say, i had an eerie feeling when I read the title on the homepage. Whenever I want some peace of mind (usually before bed), I come to Tiny Buddha and read through the first article that resonates me. The Universe has interesting ways of telling us exactly what we need to hear right when we need to hear it.
    Right before clicking onto the site, I was writing in my journal and I as I was writing, I came to the realization I was telling myself to be ashamed of how I was before. I’ve been a procrastinator, a habit if have worked on remove from my life, but I still judge myself for it.

    This article gives me some hope and much needed insight. I can’t fully live in my present and enjoy it if I am judging my past. I need to free myself and heal myself from those harsh judgements so I can be the most authentic, happy, loving version of my self.

    And don’t worry about disliking crowds and people, I’ve been through both ends of the spectrum. Sometimes I’ve wanted to completely isolate myself, and at other times I’ve thrown myself into groups just to feel accepted. As much as I crave loving relationships and being with people, I’m afraid of putting myself out there.

    You are doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to be ashamed of, and we love and accept you as you are :)

    Best wishes,

    Jas

  • Vijay Mariappan

    Awesome.. am very proud of you that you shared this thought.. I feel exactly the same sometime and started working on realization.. this post is going to help me great.. specifically your friend’s words – “are people best from a computer screen… ?”

  • Shoua

    This is a wonderful site, a lot of down to earth stories about life lessons. This was a wonderful post, can I give you a tip on the affirmation, you could considered re-wording it so that you would not be reminding yourself of what you were, because what we think about, we bring to our awareness, and it attracts like. I mean it’s a wonderful statements, and as I realist I know exactly why you worded it this way, but affirmations are like new programs, we have to start thinking about what we want to change and then word it accordingly. Sorry if this sounds presumptuous.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Shoua! I reworded it to read “admission and affirmation.” The affirmation is the part about validating myself. I appreciate that you pointed that out!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Vijay. I’m glad this was helpful to you!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you so much Jas! That’s wonderful that you stumbled on this precisely when it was relevant to you. I’m glad you’re letting go of those judgments, regarding procrastinating. I know it’s not always easy to do that, especially if you get caught up in “should haves” and “what ifs.” Sounds like we both had big epiphanies tonight =)

  • Irving Podolsky

    Dear Lori,

    I love when you write stuff like this! Because I love discussing philosophy and psychology and you offer the platform to do that.

    I too asked the questions you’re probing here, and I came up with a different conclusion that works for me. Maybe you can use the formula.

    FIRST: Realize you can’t run from judgments about you.

    You can’t even run from your OWN judgements about others!

    You will always have an opinion about people based on your values and morals. Sure, you can rationalize that we all have different drummers to march to. But you will not be able to neutralize all your opinions about your friend’s decisions and behavior. It’s how our brains work, meaning…

    YOU CANNOT STOP EVALUATING ANYTHING! NOBODY CAN.

    Now, you can beat yourself up about how “judgmental” you are, or you can ask yourself, “How much damage am I creating based on my opinion of others?”

    Can’t you think a man’s messed up and still be kind to him? Sure you can. I bet that’s how you are: subjective but kind.

    So accept the judgmental YOU. Love the judgmental YOU. Respect that YOU!

    Really! It’s okay to make evaluations!

    NEXT, insert the Golden Rule and admit: Everybody is evaluating everything!

    If you can’t eliminate your judgment of others, and you realize it’s not necessarily harmful, then accepting your opinionated self should apply to accepting people’s opinions of you. Judgments are natural, needed and everywhere. And they all change from moment to moment.

    Irv

  • Jane

    Can I take your sentence a little further.. I am the same person I was at my weakest, and I am the same person at my strongest. I think that’s my affirmation right there. Thank you Lori for sharing this.

  • Shannon Marrero

    Oh my goodness. This is what I needed to read today. Ive been living in the past lately. Shaming myself for not helping enouph. Not being able to help my cat enouph…then he died. Not being able to help my ex boyfriend enouph with his ptsd. Not being able to help his daughter eat solid foods at five. Not being able to help my sister with aspergers who has isolated herself in Alaska from family for the past 7 months. No contact with family. Im learning to forgive myself for not being able to help enouph. Although I wanted to help because in my heart thats all I wanted to do for the people I love….I could not help everyone. I shouldnt shame myself for not being able to help.
    My Name is Shannon. I feel responsible for my family falling apart. but I am not responsible. Ive tried my best. I have felt helpless and hopeless for so long yet I am compassionate, loving and kind somewhere inside my hurt heart. I work hard everyday at forgiving myself. Still that is not why I am proud.
    I am proud because I have loved deeply. Given freely. I validate myself for who I am, who ive been and who I will be.
    Thank you Lori.

  • Andrea

    you’re not alone in that!…I relate…work in progress:)

  • http://www.facebook.com/phillipjreynolds Phillip Reynolds

    Great post. I think it’s difficult to be authentic as your environment drives how you see the world and yourself in it. It’s a big challenge to break free but break free we must, so we can really be who we really are. Some will like us and some won’t but that’s the nature of life. To me one authentic and genuine friendship is worth a thousand aquaintances. But then again we have many friends we’ve yet to meet.

  • Shweta

    This article hit the nail on the head. I find myself being my biggest critic-often reffering to the person I use to be as if she were a stranger that I no longer associate with. More importantly, I realize that too often, I tend to shut out those in my life that only know me for “who I use to be”, as if to avoid being confronted with that self. It makes self-acceptance relative, if not impossible. I really appreciate this article-it sheds light on where I have plateued in my own growth.

  • a_distorted_reality

    Wow… I’m reading this at work and trying hard not to cry. This has hit the nail on the head for me in a big way. I’ve been really struggling recently and I wasn’t sure why – but you’ve just answered my question! I’m moving in with my boyfriend soon, and instead of being excited and happy I’ve been scared and weepy and catastrophising. But I’ve been thinking exactly this same thought, and this is why I’ve been so scared:

    “I am the same person I was at my weakest, and if I’m not careful, people
    will see it and reject me. People will think that I’m a fraud, and that
    I haven’t really changed at all.”

    I met my boyfriend after I’d faced, confronted and overcome a lot of my past challenges and I’ve been terrified that if we move in together, he’ll see a lot more of the ‘old’ me and he’ll decide he doesn’t love ‘that’ me. BUT! As your wonderful article rightly points out – I’m still the same person I was before I met him. I was still the same kind, lovely person back then. I was just a bit lost. And maybe I’ll get lost again. But at the core of my being is this wonderful person, and that’s who my boyfriend fell in love with. And she isn’t going anywhere!

    Thank you, Lori. Suddenly things seem a lot brighter.

  • http://www.thebounceblog.com/ Bobbi Emel

    Lori, there’s nothing more I can say about this post than thanks. This has been very healing.

  • Chris

    As I’m still in the beginning of an intense healing journey I am still amazed at the commonality of feelings and issues that have made me feel so isolated and ostracized most of my life. Thanks for this article. I am currently dealing with a profound change in perspective about my past and the shame and guilt it has constantly conjured up effectively made me sabotage or destroy some of the most important, meaningful relationships and opportunities in my life. I also keep telling myself that I was doing the best with the tools I had and the person I was. It is still me but less authentic, less real, and more reactionary. I’ve been trying for years to become authentic. It’s a difficult journey but overall worth it. So first thing is self-kindness which is new to me. From there I can begin to stop judging my entire past and leave regret behind.

  • Ruby’sjules

    This is the simplest and most resonating of all the posts I have ever read on my many visits to this site! Thankyou!

  • tqH2pz

    This hit me like a ton of bricks:

    Maybe what I really needed to hear was, “You are the same person—because the person you were before was beautiful and worthy of love, just as you are now. She was just at a different part of the journey.”

    I’ve been telling myself that I’m not the same person I was and that’s why I should accept who I used to be, but this is so much more powerful. Thank you.

  • Chia

    My first reaction when starting to read was to laugh as this was more or less the exact same thing I was pondering over 30 min ago with a friend over the FB-chat.. Amazing how spot on my feelings you were, thank you for sharing and making me feel really great this evening!
    We all have our battles in life, your blog is helping many of us. Thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/cinghialetta Stephanie Unson

    Upon seeing this article in my news feed, I too had the sensation that it would be just what I needed to read. And it was. I still chastise myself for promises unkept, opportunities wasted, goals left unmet. As I inch towards becoming the person I want to be, it’s too easy to look back at what I’ve done and left behind, and feel shame and embarrassment alongside the pride and joy for what I *have* accomplished. Thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/deanna.proach.9 Deanna Proach

    “It’s only in releasing shame about the past that we’re able to be free in the present.” Amen! Wonderful article, Lori. Everything you have said speaks to me because I have gone through the very same thing. Thank you for sharing this story.

  • http://twitter.com/tsmcauley Tim McAuley

    Wow…You and I are so on the same page this week kiddo!

    Thank you for writing this. Have you seen the Brene Brown TedTalk about shame?

  • Stacy Murray

    I needed to see this today. I’m in the middle of the same struggle: sitting alone and self-destructing, deathly afraid of being judged, and so quick to judge everyone else, so they don’t hurt me first. Lori gives me hope to try to muster up the courage to take that scary first step because it’s worth it.

  • Dave

    Thank you Lori,
    Your article was like finding a rose growing up through the sand in the middle of the desert. I’ll try my best to take it to heart.

  • desires1989

    Lori, You’ve just verbalize my feelings, So many times when I hear from people, from self help authors, compete with yourself, be better than you used to be, it just doesn’t feel right,I mean if I want to just achieve something, why do I have to compete at all,Why do I have to be better than my former self,why cant I just make my goal and just go for it rather than saying I am better than my previous self, OK,I may have gained few things by achieving something which I haven’t achieved in past,but that doesn’t make me better than my former self,just different,just a person who is living different experience from the person in the past who has lived just a bit different experience.Unconditional self validation is a word,I deserve to be loved just because I exist at this point in my life,I am a process who is validated , may be some actions are bad or hurtful,but that doesn’t make them unvalidated,they are bad actions and better if I don’t do them,but they are validated because they are part of my experience and My experience is not to be rejected.

  • http://www.facebook.com/darius.mcstay Darius McStay

    Lori.. I have never once commented on any such site as this… and I am very sceptical about ‘life skills’ advisors per se having met my fair share! However I have regularly shared your posts… And this one pleases me most.. Cos reading this I just got to meet you… And personally I think it’s an absolute pleasure to meet someone as courageous and beautiful a soul as you. Thank you. Thank you for sharing yourself and bringing a warm smile to my heart…

  • lv2terp

    Thank you for sharing your journey, and your wisdom! Truly inspiring :)

  • Irving Podolsky

    I just reread my comment and noticed I didn’t add the third ingredient: SELF JUDGMENT, which is what you’re talking about.

    I don’t think any empathetic person can escape self evaluation either. So the same question remains: Is self evaluation harmful, even when you consider yourself falling behind your personal best?

    Yes, if self judgment leads to self loathing and depression. No if your score keeping leads to self improvement and pushing past the envelope.

    I beat myself up as well, until I talk to other achievers and realize we’re all doing it, except for those few mean and arrogant, conceited, self-denial control freaks.

    Oh…was that a judgment call? How did that happen?

    Irv

  • http://twitter.com/BrendanHowley Brendan Howley

    This clicked with me the moment the paradox in the headline registered. I’ve Evernoted, tweeted and emailed this one. It’s so true of me, down to my bones: an ex-Catholic awash in guilt, regret and not a little unmanifest grief who’s just discovering mindfulness and running…together—and loving the serenity. This one’s a huge insight. Lots to practice here. Thank you, Lori

  • Fiona

    I love your writing, thank you for this! It resonates sooo true right now,xx

  • 2littlewings

    This is so beautifully true and, wow, do I ever relate!

  • Matthew

    The title of this caught my attention as soon as I saw it. I think about how I used to be *a lot.* And I realize I’m still ashamed of who I used to be — I take pride in no longer being the way I used to be.

    But the ironic part is I’m still who I used to be. I just stuffed the vulnerable, ‘shameful’ parts of me into a box and put it on a shelf. I have moments of really horrible conflict where I see that those vulnerabilities are still there. And I’m not willing to talk about those vulnerabilities with anyone — what my feelings really are. I seem a lot stronger, and in a lot of ways I am, but those parts of me that I’ve pushed away are eating me alive.

    If I knew any of you in person I’d probably never open up about the things I just did. I do find that keeping a private journal helps. You can at least be aware of what’s going on that way, and you can do it in a completely safe and non-judgmental space — no one will see it but you.

    But yeah, Lori. Here’s one thing I’ve realized that I can share with you to relate to your post here: I’ve been feeling really helpless and desperate lately, and I’m trying to accept that. I’m so used to trying to be strong, to be independent — I just lock all my emotions up even if they’re eating me alive, because I’m so afraid of appearing weak to other people. I don’t want them to judge me or criticize me or reject me.

    It’s a really horrible and really lonely feeling. But at the same time, this is how I grew up. Spent all my time alone. I do think there’s value in allowing yourself to feel those painful emotions and simply not judge yourself for them. I can only speak for myself, but maybe other people can relate: what I’m most afraid of is feeling despair, reaching out for help, and having no one there. So what I do is feel the despair and suffer in silence, because it feels more bearable than opening up to someone and being rejected.

    It’s a simple matter of wanting something really badly — to just be who you are and honestly express your emotions to someone — and suppressing your desires to do that because you’re ashamed of yourself or afraid of being rejected, and most likely a combination of both.

    Even with all this self-help stuff there can be an overdose of self-help. Sometimes the main problem a person has is that they never learned how to accept help from other people. I know you’ve mentioned this before in some posts too, and it seems like it’s very hard for you. I have the same thing.

    I once heard “Intimacy” described as “Into-me-see.” That really hit me when I read that.

    It’s so hard for me to understand that we’re perfect just as we are. It’s hard when your whole life you’ve believed that the worth of a person’s life is based on their accomplishments and how other people perceive them. But again, it’s good to be aware of these things — that’s like a seed in the ground.

    Well, I have to get going. But thanks for sharing. Really thought provoking post.

  • O

    Good for you! Fabulous post! Could have written it myself! We got to honour where we come from as well as where we are now. It’s all “us” right? Otherwise we will be at war with ourselves. Love

  • http://www.facebook.com/joeycradio Joey Cradio

    <3

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much! Exactly–it’s all “us,” just at different stages. Love back to you. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome. I could relate to a lot of what you wrote, about suffering in silence feeling better than rejection. I also spent a lot of my adolescence alone, feeling ashamed and scared–and then parts of my adulthood in similar situations.

    I think that’s what makes these kind of conversations so powerful. If so many of us have those same fears, we can take power away from them by acknowledging them and being there, non-judgmentally, for each other.

    I know what you mean, about an overdose of self-help. One thing I noticed after reading many self-help books is it always seemed like I needed to become someone else–reach this certain “after” picture place and become so much better–when what I really wanted was the courage to reach out to others, just as I was. I mean, yes, we need to empower ourselves to improve. But we also need to accept and love ourselves just as we are, and know that we don’t need to fundamentally change to be worthy of connection.

    That’s a wonderful definition for intimacy. It hit me hard too!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Fiona. I’m glad this resonated with you!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    From one ex-Catholic to another, you’re most welcome Brendan. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome. Thanks so much!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Darius. It’s a pleasure to meet you as well. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    My experience is not to be rejected–that’s so powerful! I love this idea of unconditional self-validation. If we always think about being better than we were the day before, and phrase that with judgment for our former selves, than that means one day we’ll be looking back judging who we are right now. We not embrace each step as a crucial and respectable part of the journey? So it’s not about competing with who we were the day before, but rather building on it.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome Dave. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m glad you found this helpful Stacy! I’ve definitely done that before–judge others before they could j hurt me. I remember working at a camp in my early 20s and ostracizing myself from all the other counselors. I didn’t think they’d accept me as part of their group, so I immediately positioned myself as the counselor who cared about the kids (unlike them, who stayed out late drinking). At the time, I convinced myself I wasn’t part of their group because they were irresponsible, but really I wasn’t part of their group because I feared they wouldn’t accept me. In retrospect, I cringe at how frequently I did this, but I was just so scared. That first step (and each one after)–definitely worth it.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome! I have seen that talk. Brene Brown is so inspiring!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks Deanna. You’re most welcome!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re welcome Stephanie! Shame is a big one for me too. I continually work to let that go, because I know it taints the joy. I find that talking about it really helps!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome Chia! I’m so thrilled to know this blog helps others. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome. It’s amazing to me to realize how many people have felt this same way.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome! Isn’t it amazing to realize that those feelings that made us feel alone are actually not so uncommon? That’s one of the biggest things that made me feel ashamed–thinking no one could possibly relate or understand, and that there was something fundamentally wrong with me. Here’s to being kind to ourselves and embracing each step of the journey!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome Bobbi. Yours was quite healing for me. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    That’s great, that you’ve had this epiphany! I actually had similar fears when I started getting close to my boyfriend. Congrats on moving in together. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m glad this was helpful to you Shweta! I’ve done that same thing, in regards to people from my past. I’ve even referred to my past as “practically a different life.” But what a message to send myself about myself. It definitely presents a big barrier to complete self-acceptance. It feels much more comforting to look at the past with compassion for who I was.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I feel the same, about having authentic friendships. I think we all need that–people who feel like home.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    It’s nice to know I’m/we’re not alone!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    That was beautiful Shannon. I can tell from what you wrote just how deeply you care about and love your family. They are fortunate to have that love and support! And how wonderful to see you offer it back to yourself. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome. That’s a beautiful affirmation!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I always love your thought-provoking comments! I find what you wrote here particularly insightful–that it’s about assessing ourselves to improve, without judging ourselves in a way that causes depression and a feeling of helplessness. And that to some extent, a little self-criticism is inevitable. I suspect it’s part of being human, like all the other emotions we all experience (but sometimes would rather not).

    And yes, that was a judgment. LOL =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    <3 :)

  • MB

    Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing a part of yourself Lori. This hit so close to home for me. I have been a regular reader of Tiny Buddha articles & frequently share some of them too.Both my husband & I have found some articles very inspiring.Though I rarely comment, I felt so compelled after reading this one.I too have been striving to lead a more authentic life & realized what I need the most is self-love and acceptance of both my former and current self :) Thank you again!

  • http://twitter.com/idv8dotcom Danielle Vallee

    Fantastic post! Would love to have lunch with you one day, Lori. :-)

    Danielle in Montreal

  • Johanna_Galt

    Oh wow. This really, really hits home for me. I’m in a place in my life where I’m working SO hard to love myself, yet I realize in reading this that I can’t do that completely until I let go of the shame I’m still lugging around concerning my current and past struggles. I thought I had, but obviously I was mistaken. I keep thinking I’ll love myself WHEN…..

    I truly appreciate this post and have bookmarked it to read again and again and again. Or at least until I have fully relinquished that painful role of judge. Your affirmation is beautiful and one I will be repeating to myself for a while.
    Thank you Lori.

  • Kavetha

    Dear Lori,

    What an honest and courageous post! Hats off to you!

    I too have felt shame for the person I was at moments in my past. And even moments in my present. Sometimes, I feel that TOO much has already happened, leaving me with no energy to meet new people or create new experiences. And yet, a big part of me has love to give and laughter to share. How to reconcile these two very real parts? What’s helped me is just accepting myself as I am in each moment. Like, even if I CAN only take people through a computer screen some days, so what? At least I’m still reaching out, helping my journey and a co-travelers journey. And I’m okay with that. As long as we are trying to be honest and non harmful, whatever each of us is able to do in any given day is enough. It’s perfect. As you so beautifully said, you then and you now are the same person. And the NY Lori led to the Lori that created Tiny Buddha. And that’s no small accomplishment!

    Thank you for being who you are and sharing that with us. It’s a honor.
    Hugs,
    Kavetha @ http://www.talk-doctor.com

  • Guest

    Dear Lori,

    What an honest and courageous post! Hats off to you!

    I too have felt shame for the person I was at moments in my past. And even moments in my present. Sometimes, I feel that TOO much has already happened, leaving me with no energy to meet new people or create new experiences. And yet, a big part of me has love to give and laughter to share. How to reconcile these two very real parts? What’s helped me is just accepting myself as I am in each moment. Like, even if I CAN only take people through a computer screen some days, so what? At least I’m still reaching out, helping my journey and a co-travelers journey. And I’m okay with that. As long as we are trying to be honest and non harmful, whatever each of us is able to do in any given day is enough. It’s perfect. As you so beautifully said, you then and you now are the same person. And the NY Lori led to the Lori that created Tiny Buddha. And that’s no small accomplishment!

    Thank you for being who you are and sharing that with us. It’s a honor.
    Hugs,
    Kavetha @ http://www.talk-doctor.com

  • Kavetha Sundaramoorthy

    Reposted by mistake, so sorry!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much, and you’re most welcome! I’m so glad you and your husband have enjoyed the posts. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    That would be wonderful! Let me know if you find your way to LA =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome Johanna. I decided to put this affirmation somewhere in my home where I can see it often. I’m glad to know it’s helpful to you too!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Kavetha! That’s such a self-compassionate observation, that it’s perfectly okay to connect however you feel able to on a given day. That is perfect. =)

  • http://twitter.com/J2theDW Jackie

    This was such an affirming thing for me to read this morning. I had never even thought about the fact that I was judging who I was in the past…until today! No matter what we may have done in the past, the mistakes we may have made, we were just as deserving of love then as we are now and we weren’t “different” people back then. All of our experiences just bring us that much closer to allowing us to become who we are. Thanks Lori!

  • http://everlutional.com/ David Hamilton | Everlution

    Hey Lori – I have those judgmental thoughts of who I used to be all the time. :)

    You know…when the embarrassment hits as if you were still the same person as in the past? Even though you weren’t embarrassed then about being you. It’s a strange feeling for sure.

    Though I will say that in the past I would beat myself up for a long time after, now when it comes, I pretty easily negotiate and have compassion for myself. But the thoughts, as you know, still come!

    I agree (or so I heard in your post) is that we’ve also got to acknowledge it and not stuff it down when we experience that regret of past self, for danger of closing off and losing our self-honesty and vulnerability. I feel like I’m on a new journey of exploring the depths of self-honesty and vulnerability to more authenticity and connection with others. Part of my “boldness & courage” rampage I’m on these days. :)

    As always, thanks for sharing and the awesome work you do and curate here.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome Jackie! I never really thought about it this way until recently either. It’s definitely an empowering shift!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi David,

    You’re most welcome! I actually was pretty ashamed/embarrassed of myself in the past, but like you I do a lot better with self-compassion these days. Still, the thoughts still come for me as well!

    I love what you wrote about exploring the depths of self-honesty and vulnerability. I know when I focus on those things, I feel connected to and proud of myself.

    Have a great night =)

    Lori

  • Kibby

    Lori, this article really hit home with me and I thank you for sharing. I have been working on correcting and reframing old thoughts/behaviours/beliefs and just the one way of “not perceiving those old ways as bad” took so much pressure of me and shifted something inside of me to view differently and I THANK YOU! I am sharing this article in my “Thoughtful Thursday” post I put up every week about inspiring articles, quotes, exercise, etc. I have started sharing more and more of your articles in this post – they are so damn GREAT and spot on to assist others and inspire and motivate them (mainly what I am all about – I love sharing!) http://www.kibbysblendedlife.com Keep them coming, Lori and I’ll keep sharing out to spread the words. XO

  • wjm

    Lori, my girlfriend sent this to me saying that reading it made her think of me. This is me, this was me, this still is me. I have hated and punished myself for so many things I have done over the years, not only with her, but all throughout my life. I do need to forgive myself for things I have done and not carry it around like a well used and abused bag of hurt. I have done so many shameful things in my life and I do have to let them go, be at peace with them and love myself for the past, present and future. She left me the most amazing note on the mirror this morning and finally, maybe finally I am starting to let go, heal and realize I am a good person and I should not judge myself for my past and let it go. I am not my past, I can’t hold on to it any longer as it does nothing but hold me back from who I really am and who I long to be: just me. Thank you for writing this, it is helping close so many self inflicted wounds that so desperately want to heal.

  • Mary Beth

    Thanks for sharing this, Lori. I had this page open yesterday, but for some reason I didn’t read it– I am glad I came back and read it today. This exact issue is what I’ve struggled with for years, sitting thinking about what I need to let go of or who I need to forgive to take another step in my journey.
    I believe that you have helped a lot of people through this article. I can only imagine that, maybe, there was some uncertainty when sharing these very personal things. But thank you so much for sharing, Lori. I understand now! Thank you!

  • http://www.sixsimplerules.com/ David Singer/SixSimpleRules

    Lori:
    You really hit the mark on this one. You want to be authentic and this is as authentic as one can be. I was off-line yesterday and read this today and wasn’t shocked to see lots of comments. And wow, they are fantastic comments. I’m working hard on not being judgmental in all ways. That said, I judge you all the time as a caring person who is doing amazing things for the world and wish you continued success in helping yourself the way you help all of us.
    Best regards,
    David

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome Kibby! That’s exactly how it felt for me too–like taking the pressure off. Thanks so much for sharing this post on your site. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome! I have punished myself quite a bit too, and I’m so happy for you to know you’re getting closer to healing. It sounds like your girlfriend really loves and values you. That’s wonderful you have her support in letting go and moving forward!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome Mary Beth. I did have a lot of uncertainty with this post. I stared at it for a good 10 minutes after publishing it and felt kind of terrified! But I am so relieved and grateful to know posting this helped other people. It’s definitely rewarding to just be honest and see it makes a difference!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you so much David. I was inspired to see so many people sharing their own stories and insights in the comments. That’s what it’s all about! I really appreciate your kind words. =)

  • Blerta

    That’s it! This post is the perfect example of how honesty, vulnerability and the courage to be human speaks so easily to everyone’s heart. Eventhough I haven’t really been in a similar situation like yours, your honesty touched my heart so profoundly. And it reminded me that being the true me (with all the doubts, fears and insecurities) is actually more beautiful and humane than the other “robotic” me, who despretely tries to have everything figured and sorted out.Thank you!!

  • PSC

    Irving…..I really agree with you about accepting, loving and respecting the judgmental YOU. I think this is key, well it has been key for me! Its hard when you ignore those “elements of self” that might not seem like the best. Thank you for your reminder.

  • E

    This is extremely insightful and helpful. Thank you for sharing. I do, however, feel that your friend’s comment was a bit cutting. Maybe, in context, it was meant to be non-judgemental but my immediate reaction was – ouch.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much E. That was my immediate reaction as well, but I figured if I wanted the benefit of the doubt, I should give it as well!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Blerta. I love what you wrote, about being true to yourself. It’s definitely empowering to realize we don’t have to pretend to have it all together–that there’s beauty in being exactly who we are!

  • E

    Very true. I always gain something from reading your blog. This one, however, was life changing for me. I find it it truly selfless that you share your intimate inroads to self awareness.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you so much. It means the world to me to know I can do something useful by simply sharing my experiences, struggles, and lessons!

  • Astha Kaushik

    Its true that we are too much bothered about our impressions on others..Well, In my opinion it shdn’t be good each time..if you have weakness, you should’t be afraid of that, as you cant be a complete human without flaws..And you need a moment of weakness as much you need a moment when you feel strong and perfect..Its all a part of human emotions…

  • renpic

    Lori I so resonate with what you have to say. If you had a conversation with my friends lately they would be able to confirm that I’ve been talking about just this: conflicted about being alone, hiding at home (behind the computer), feeling judged, somewhat intimidated by crowds/new people, what my past self was like, struggling to regain independence/redefine myself as ‘single’ again after a breakup, feeling some shame about how I lived my past ‘single’ life, wondering how to meet people again without hiding behind a computer.

    There are many things I’m excited about too, but it’s scary and strange to go from ‘comfortably coupled-up’ to ‘single and fabulous’ without making the same ‘single-life’ mistakes that I made in the past. Also there are so many fears about dating and relationships that have to do with how I view my past self…how will someone truly accept me despite this? Did my last partner really accept and respect me? Or was it me not accepting myself fully? I’m so confused about all of it still. The breakup is still very fresh.

    Thank you for being so candid…you are not alone! We are not alone! Yay for us all sharing ourselves here :)

  • http://ponder-the-pre.posterous.com Kate Britt

    Hi Lori,

    You’ve clearly hit a significant point with this post, based on all the wonderful and thoughtful responses here!

    I’ve been involved in a memoir-writing course this fall, and as I work on writing my “past lives”, your thoughts here resonate. There are several past-Me personas, each one different from the other in varying aspects. I’m learning to love and appreciate all of them for how they got me to where (and who) I am today. It’s not so much about reviewing and writing history, or hindsight, or progressions, or growth, or maturing, etc.; for me it’s much more about integrating all of those stages of Me into a single, whole, complicated woman. I’ve always thought this was what being a senior person would be like — coming to terms with Self with an as-is acceptance — and it turns out that’s true. Adding self-reflection in the form of memoir writing adds another dimension to the work of self-development. There’s a realization, too, that there will certainly be more parts/aspects/personas of my Me as I continue along my life’s path.

    As a person who’s worked online for about a quarter-century, I’ve often heard versions of your friend’s question: “Are people best from a computer screen, when you’re sitting alone in your living room?” I used respond similarly to how you did: : “This hit me like a jolt to the stomach, completely knocking the wind out of me.” I’d get all defensive, rationalizing the ways in which this kind of isolated work has changed me as a person, friend, family member, etc. Then one day the light bulb came on, and I responded to a similar comment with, “Actually, yes! At least, some days I think I am certainly my best when I’m relating to online folks from my alone space. And others often present their best selves to me, too.” It’s a unique and wonderful environment for many aspects of life, and it’s OK for me to enjoy online-only friends because I have come to know them for who they ARE, don’t necessarily need to see or be with their bodies to become close to them.

    Apart from that, one more comment… about receiving judgements. So let’s see, I’ve judged you as being an open, kind, wise, giving, talented, beautiful (inside and out) woman who I look up to and respect enormously. You’d accept that kind of judgement happily, right? So maybe we all don’t mind being judged, as long as the judgements don’t hit us where it hurts. We all have “the fear that other people may judge me, and their judgments may be true.” The thing is, a judgement like that can be treated like a mirror — as in, oh! Is that how they think about me? Is it because that’s who I am, how I come across? and do I want to either work on accepting that part of me now, or do I want to work on change? So then even other people’s judgements (intended or not) can present opportunities for growth. Ya, but I know you know that. :)

    Thanks for all you do here, Lori!

  • tesla

    I look forward to Fridays when I have set aside time to read the weekly updates to Tiny Buddha, please forgive that I am four days behind most comments, I hope this comment does not go unnoticed as I am very interested in the thoughts of others. I really appreciate all that goes on within this community and the openness cultivated here!

    Today I find myself wishing to probe deeper, “It’s only in releasing shame about the past that we’re able to be free in the present.” shame can be a relentless beast, and the dilemma that is unresolved for me is releasing shame that is connected to pieces of the past that will forever be part of who you are and how your journey unravels…

    some pieces of the past cannot be escaped through self-love, these pieces must be carried along the journey without option, continually struggled against. just when you think that you have conquered the merciless foe you are presented with a situation in which you are forced to recognize the past for what it is and behave accordingly, and the wound is reopened with salt spilled in for what you see as a future riddled with such obstacles…so you choose to stand tall again all the time hardening yourself for the next blow…it is a vicious oscillation with amplitude constantly increasing, highs reach higher while lows dive lower…it is a mental prison. I am in a place where it seems the only option is to serve the sentence.

    I apologize for such a downer on a friday afternoon, may the forces of this existence bless you all

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    No need to apologize Tesla! I appreciate that you shared your experience here. I’m curious what you mean, about some shame being impossible to heal through self-love. I understand we may need to face the consequences of our past actions and experiences repeatedly; but our feelings are responses to those events. And ultimately, we have a say in what we feel. At least that’s my take on it. Do you feel that shame is unavoidable in your case?

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    So true Astha! To be human is to be imperfect. What a relief it is to simply accept that.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Kate!

    Regarding your memoir writing class, this really jumped out at me: “for me it’s much more about integrating all of those stages of Me into a single, whole, complicated woman.” I love the use of the word complicated here. I remember someone telling me (in my early 20s) that I wasn’t an easy person.

    I took that so hard back then, wanting desperately to be laid back, not easily ruffled, without any baggage or issues. The thought that I was complicated seemed shameful; but now, with hindsight, I see that there’s simplicity in accepting and appreciating complexity. (Though, admittedly, I have learned to be less dramatic, which makes “complicated” less stressful to own.)

    I’m curious about all the different aspects and past versions of you. I would love to read your memoir some day. =)

    Regarding the web, I think I took that comment so personally because I used to sit alone in fear. At a time, the web was a tool for isolation and depression, not meaning and connection.

    I think you hit the nail on the head about enjoying online-only friends. We’re so fortunate to live in a time when it’s possible to have these types of conversations with people we’d otherwise never meet. I feel like the web has enriched my life in so many ways. It’s amazing to come online and share a feeling or experience and then recognize that so many other people can relate. Even sitting all alone, suddenly it doesn’t feel that way.

    Lastly, regarding judgment, you bring up an interesting point! I never thought about that, but you’re right–positive judgments are much easier to accept. (And I appreciate yours!)

    There’s an old post on the site about judgments being a mirror, in the projection sense (that we tend to judge in other people what we reject in ourselves). I found this idea fascinating–and comforting. It reminds me that I don’t need to be ashamed if someone recognizes something in me that I’m not proud of–because odds are, it’s something they’ve experienced too. In other words, I don’t need to fear that someone will recognize my imperfections; we recognize them in each other because we are all messy, beautifully imperfect human beings. There’s something comforting about knowing I am more alike everyone else than I once thought.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking comment. Have a wonderful weekend!

    Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you for reading and commenting! I understand what you mean, about the breakup confusion. I felt something similar when my first long-term relationship ended–not sure what part of our falling apart had to do with my own rejection of myself, or perhaps just parts of me that it would be hard for anyone to accept. That was a big part of why I hid, actually. I was afraid of being hurt, and also afraid of hurting someone else. I think it would have made a big difference to have shined a spotlight on those fears and feelings then. It helps a great deal now, whatever I may be struggling with. It’s liberating to realize that we are not alone, and there’s far less to fear than we may think!

  • Faith

    This one really hit home for me, Lori (although they almost all do.) In the last few years, I have gone through some significant personal growth and change, and when I look back, I see how much progress I have made. Too often, that pride is cut down by the shame I feel thinking about how I used to be. I am 28 years old and feel that I’ve only been a person I’ve been proud to be for the last 3 years. It’s as though I don’t want to admit that I existed prior to that. I never did anything terrible; I simply wasn’t the best friend, the best daughter, the best partner, the best version of myself that I could be. Today, through the help of therapists, good friends and supportive partners, I have come to feel so much more awake, aware and alive than I ever did before. But that does not mean that I wasted 25 years of my life, or that I did nothing good during that time. What I really need to hear is exactly what you told yourself: “You are the same person—because the person you were before was beautiful and worthy of love, just as you are now. She was just at a different part of the journey.” Thank you for sharing this story and for reminding me that there is no part of my journey I should be ashamed of.

  • tesla

    I spent much time thinking and rereading my post the last 24 hours, and i really appreciate you taking the time to respond, your work here at tiny buddha is uplifting.

    my post centers on being repeatedly faced with the consequences of past actions and experiences, and how an instant of accident, err in judgement, or unavoidable circumstance can drastically alter the journey, shattering dreams and ambitions. It is the longing for a derailed destiny, now seemingly impossible that brings about such constant recurrence.

    the impossibility to heal through self-love was a dramatic choice of
    words, along with most of the rest of the post, lending to overly dramatic thoughts, my thoughts have now turned
    to finding acceptance for where I am and what lies ahead.

    I think there is some truth to your belief that ultimately we have a say in what we feel, but I think it is important to acknowledge that there are instances in which we lose control of our feelings, or lose sight of the fact that we have some control. many moons ago i was forced into counseling, the take home message of which was that an emotionally healthy life is an oscillation, highs and lows regardless of where the zero point falls. when I began the counseling I was at a noticeably low point, and stuck there in a way, I had lost sight of my influence on the way I feel about things. it was a highly uncomfortable situation but the catalyst needed to help me take a different perspective and realize that I could influence my feelings. I see my previous post as evidence of a similar instance of stuck in lowness, negative thoughts only helping to dig the trench deeper. this was my first post on tiny buddha and Ill admit i was nervous and uncomfortable not different from the escort into the counselors office, your response has helped me to remember that I do have some control over my feelings, the climb back has begun.

    this exchange is much appreciated and will be well documented as it will serve as a resource to continually draw from, rock on lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Tesla,

    I understand what you mean, about losing control of our feelings. We’re only human after all, and I’ve certainly been through times when I got caught up as well. I didn’t intend to imply there’s something wrong with being in a low state; I just know what it’s like to be there, and I hoped to help. If I have, I am glad!

    Love,
    Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome Faith. I had that same fear–about having wasted time. It’s much more empowering to consider that no time was/is wasted; it’s all part of the journey, and it’s all valuable to our learning and growth!

  • http://twitter.com/Grownupkidsonly Joanna Warwick

    Hey Lori, I haven’t been able to catch up with TB for a few weeks but something today, made me sit down and read this – thankyou for sharing; like many here I felt like I was reading my story, faced with a new exciting times in my life the fear of the kept lingering but I couldn’t put my finger on it and now I can .. ;)
    Your friend gave you a gift. I have become more and more aware of why we truly need to be around people to help us see our selves – but letting it happen is hard and compassion essential xx

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much Joanna. Her comment definitely led me to some empowering realizations, and I am grateful for that! I had a feeling a lot of people would relate to this idea. How wonderful that we can all help each other see ourselves more fully. =)

  • http://www.facebook.com/estella.umei Est You-Mei

    Hi Lori:)

    Just wanted you to know that I’ve been reading Tiny Buddha for quite a while now because I could find connections with the experiences shared here. I’m truly thankful for that. Well, I judged the person I used to be and even who I am now. At some points in life, I felt like there’s no one out there who truly understands or sees my perspectives in things. When I think about it, I was asking myself if I was the one with an “issue”. You know…like I have to change myself in order to “blend” in with the people? But really, I loathe it. Because I don’t see any reason why I should change myself to suit other people’s needs from me.

    Hmmm…so when the judgemental emotions set in, I’d like to be alone (which of course, it’s not technically that helpful but just to get away for a while before I immerse myself with work and hopefully it all goes away). I’m guessing this sounds so familiar to you but Lori, don’t you think it’s difficult to find someone who appreciates you for who you are and not judge you by your actions/words/thoughts?

    But I’m really really grateful to have found this site about 2 months ago when I stumbled upon the post on “Resentment”. At least, I can come here for solace. :) i’d love to meet you someday if you’re on Holiday to Singapore, for at least, I know there’s someone out there who goes through the pain to fully comprehend and genuinely guides those who are going through that now. :)

    Thank you Lori <3

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi there!

    I’m sorry for my slow response to your comment. I didn’t see this before. I know what you mean, about that feeling that other people don’t truly understand. I’ve felt that way at times as well. Like you, I just want to be free to be who I am, without convincing myself I need to strategize to be someone better!

    I think taking alone time can help a great deal, so long as it doesn’t turn into isolation and it’s balanced with connection. I have found some people who appreciate me for who I am. When I feel like someone else doesn’t, it helps me to remember they’re only human like me, and if they *are* being judgmental, it’s likely more about them than me. Though it may be about me–I try to keep an open mind so I can keep learning and growing.

    I guess that’s the biggest challenge, really–learning how to stay open to feedback in order to grow without taking things personally in a way that tanks our self-esteem. I work at it, creating this balance.

    I’m glad the site has been helpful to you since you found your way here. Thanks for taking the time to write. =)

    Lori

  • Dolcevita

    not better, just different … That’s the key :-D

  • Dolcevita

    Of Course! That’s what I’ve been forgetting. Thank you so much for these wise words.

  • Keenan

    Awww nice, that was exactly what I needed to read right about now. Thanks for the help :)

  • ReformedClassicalReality

    There have been several people in my life whom I considered important that I’ve cut ties with. Completely. When I ask myself to justify why I did it, it’s difficult. It seems so callous and unnatural for such close relationships to cease so abruptly. What kind of person can switch off emotions and forget the past and loved ones with it? What kind of sociopath switch is there that I’m able to cut out some of the human beings that knew me better than I knew myself, among them being some of the few that ever truly, truly loved me at one point? I keep arriving at the conclusion that I was younger and that it was the only thing I knew to do. I had to survive and continue on, and to continue to interact with these people would have ripped my heart to shreds. They were eating me alive from the inside out. I was young, I had to survive. It never seems like enough, but that’s what I keep telling myself. I had to survive.

  • Glenna Mercado

    I didn’t feel shame, it’s just I was disappointed that I was too young an stupid to fall for someone who was so wrong for me