Judge as a Sober

Used 2013-09-17 Don't Judge (AlKHall Anonymous sobriety recovery)

Don’t Judge

Remember me? i’m the guy who has a lot of defaults and is lucky enough to be able to see them clearer all the time.

The truth now: i judge a lot. All the time. Constantly maybe even.

i judge walking down the street, talking to people i meet, looking in the mirror, even getting clearer in the rooms.

I judge alcoholically, meaning compulsively, and for the wrong reasons because i judge to make myself feel better at another’s expense. i judge because i like to think i’m master of the universe and judging the world comes with  the job.

i don’t just judge you, though. i’m an equal opportunity judge because i judge myself all the time, as well. i judge myself for being too shy, too fearful and i judge myself for judging too much.

But that’s OK, right? Judging myself is a good thing and it’s a tool for self improvement, isn’t it?


Judging myself isn’t an act of humility, it’s the opposite. Judging myself is a flagrant act of hubris because i’m basically punishing myself for not acting as perfect as i know i am.

i judge myself so i can feel guilty.

The solution to this is to be right sized. To see myself as i really am and not as who i think i am. Only after i accept myself for who i am today, defaults and all, will i be able to let myself off the hook.


About Al K Hall

Like a battered drinker or a punch drunk boxer, i am here for another round. For those of you who don’t know me, i’m a semi-professional writer on the rocks and a non-practicing alcoholic (if after 30 years of practicing, you still can't do something well, it's best to just give it up). For those of you who do know me, thanks for stopping by anyway and where’s the ten bucks you owe me? Welcome to my Bar None. A hole in the wall where we can hang out and trade the kind of stories you swap only when you’ve had one too many and either can’t find your way home or are afraid to. Hell, it’s cheaper than therapy and plus the pictures are prettier. Here we’ll crack open bottles and jokes and ‘last call’ are the only dirty words you’ll never hear. Pull up a stool and make yourselves at home. http://about.me/AlKHall

Posted on September 17, 2013, in Alcoholism, Lessons in Recovery, Recovery, Toolbox and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Miss Anne Thrope

    I think you’re too hard on yourself here, Al. I agree that you shouldn’t judge yourself, but I think letting yourself off the hook is more the point. I don’t think that you and other people who do this *think* you’re perfect and falling short of your innate perfection, but rather that you feel like you have to *be* perfect, and live up to everyone else’s highest expectations, or else you end up tapping into that inner reservoir of shame that we all have. We all need to let it be okay that we’re not perfect, even though we have those childhood tapes in our heads saying we have to be, because otherwise we become paralyzed by those feelings of shame and will do anything to numb them out. But however you get there, knocking it off and right-sizing those expectations is a good thing. Be well, Al!

    • Miss Anne!

      i’m judging myself too hard about judging myself too hard? Lol. Certainly very true. i’m learning to recognize that i’m not perfect and to accept myself as i am at the moment. Which is not to say i’m giving up and stopping where i am. i’m just respecting my place on the path while continuing my progress on it. “We claim spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection,” as we say in AA.

      The important thing for me is that i’m now able to recognize when i start judging others or myself as soon as i start to do it, and i’m getting better at shutting down that thought pattern before it gets the better of me.

      Thanks for the visit, Kitten!

      And keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  2. Right-sized has intrigued me from the beginning, though I still don’t have a handle on what it means. This post helped though, as the idea of recognizing behavior or thoughts as just that (and not as longterm or permanent shortcomings or guarantees) always feels right to me. It’s impossible not to notice certain things and hard not to assign a negative judgement to some. This detaching is a work in progress, for sure. Great post and reminder of how it can work.

    • Hi BBB!

      Funny, as soon as my sponsor used the term “right-sized”, i knew exactly what he meant. (Maybe you don’t have as big a struggle with it as i do, which is why it’s more difficult for you to put your finger on it.) In the rooms, we say that an alcoholic is an egomaniac with an inferiority complex and truer words have never been spoken when it comes to me. In the past i was either totally enamored with myself or beating myself up on the longest guilt trip of my life and often doing all of those things at the same time. “Being right-sized” means looking at myself more objectively, without all the glitz and garbage clouding my vision. Part of that is recognizing the glitz and the garbage as soon as it arises and it’s easier to clear away. Thanks for reading!

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  3. More self-excoriation, eh? I’ve had that problem too, but I find the negative thoughts to be poisonous. Right-sizing yourself is a good way to deal with it. Another way is to re-frame the internal criticism into something more positive and goal oriented.

    Lately, I’ve been using a new trick to accomplish this: “How am I defining myself?” I’m aware that every thought and action defines me, whether I like it or not. But I do have the power to shape the definition of myself, if I so desire.

    So now instead of judging myself by thinking “I have a poor diet,” I think “I am defining myself as a healthy eater.” The act of stating my definitions influences my choices when it comes to meal time.

    When I’m out on a training run, I think “I am defining myself as a future Boston Marathon finisher” and that gives me the kick to run faster and more focused.

    Incidentally, I learned of this “defining yourself” trick from Deana Kastor, an elite Marathoner.


    “Last year, just before the Chicago marathon, her coach, Terrence Mahon, handed her a card that read, ‘Today, you need to define yourself as a marathon runner.'”

    Defining the prize helps you keep your eyes on the prize.

    • What a great tip! That makes a lot of sense and overlaps a little with the idea of “Act as if” (if you’re not brave, as as though you were and soon you’ll find that you are brave.)

      Thanks as well for the article! There was a lot of interesting stuff there, in addition to the tip you mentioned. (A guy who ran 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 States!?)

      Keep coming back, brother,

      Al K Hall

  4. Hi Al! Sorry for the delay in commenting, in reading this post back I’m noticing some similarities between what I wrote today, and what you wrote here. At the heart of it, being right-sized probably is the key, certainly in our judging of others, but also in our reactions to the judgments of us. If I keep a right-sized view of myself, I would probably be less affected by the views of others.

    This post is the gift that keeps on giving… I loved it when I read it a few days ago, and now I am reading it again and finding answers to questions I posed in my own blog! I LOVE our blogging community!!

    Also, I must say this… you are do damned clever, Al! I absolutely loved the title of this post!

    • Thanks for the visit, Josie, and the compliments! Our group here online is certainly a great way to motivate, inspire, and teach one another with a smile while we trudge the same road of happy destiny! What a great place to meet up.

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

    • What can i say? Great minds think alike! As for the “so damned clever”… Don’t fall for it! It’s a trick i do with mirrors.;-)

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  5. “Judging myself isn’t an act of humility, it’s the opposite. Judging myself is a flagrant act of hubris because i’m basically punishing myself for not acting as perfect as i know i am.”

    I get this on many levels, Al. We put ourselves on a pedestal, and then pull it out underneath us until we crash and then do it all over again. Brutal. Imagine doing this to someone else? We’d be locked up.

    I would judge myself to prove that I was right that I was a piece of shit. So double win here – I am *right* and I feel less than once again. How masochistic. And we still do this, even in recovery, even with step work. But for me, I find I do it less and less, and like you, I can catch myself. Then I have tools to help me deal with it. Get over it, and move on. With residual damage, and a lesson learned. Like an episode of The Facts Of Life. Maybe not a good example, but you know what I mean.

    Groovy work once again Al. Love your insights…very helpful to me.


  6. Hi Paul,

    Thanks so much for the visit…

    “I can catch myself.” i’m convinced that this simple statement is at the heart of my recovery for the moment. It’s this capacity i’m developing to “catch myself” that keeps my hand off the Fuck-it button, and as my sobriety matures, i’m able to catch myself sooner and sooner! What a blessing.

    Keep coming back, man,

    Al K Hall

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