Guilt, judgement and dis-ease

November 11th, 2013



There is a Scottish joke that goes something like this:


Scot heaven


A group of people are waiting in the rain for a bus. Suddenly, the clouds shift and some welcome warm sun shines through. Everyone begins to smile and their spirits lift at this simple pleasure. Among them is a Presbyterian minister, dressed in black, with an annoyed expression on his face. He looks at the group of smiling faces basking in the gentle rays and snarls “You’ll pay for it you know. You’ll pay for it!”



There is a part of every culture that echoes this sentiment. It works something like a compressor/limiter in sound production. Whenever any signal shows a sudden transient peak above normal levels it is squashed back down into the mix.


dbx corp. All rights reserved

dbx corp. All rights reserved


This dynamic has many names depending on the culture employing it. Some names for it are ‘Jantelagen’, ‘tall poppy syndrome’, ‘crab bucket effect’ and so on.


This is so common we may not even notice it any more. We either take it for granted or actively participate in it both within ourselves (via the self-critical judge in our head) or in the criticism and control of others.


We may be less aware that it is a contributing factor in making us ill, not only ill at ease.



Ego, Super Ego and Control


Psychology sees the ego as that part of us that vies for the regulation of our otherwise wild and unrestrained instinctual nature called the id.


The super ego is that process applied collectively in groups. This may be those from our parents and family, a particular socio-economic or cultural group, institution, religion, race identification or tribe. In fact most peer groups exhibit this controlling, self-limiting behavior. It uses concepts like guilt, blame and shame to do so.


Because us mammals are, by and large, flock animals we have a learnt fear of isolation and rejection by the group. The group can use this fear to then control its individual members through disapproval, censure and even banishment.


The first illusion we must be sold for this ‘trick’ to work is that we are inherently flawed or lacking as individuals. Once this lie-illusion is established a solution is offered: join and show loyalty to the group.


Depending on the group this loyalty may take the form of service, economic support (taxes, tithes and donations), conformity and obedience, guilt, shame, self censure and limitation. Of course if we start showing too much individual will we are pressured back into line.



Self Limitation


The most damaging for our personal health however is when we take over that role within ourselves. A classic example of this occured in the US several years ago in a famous anorexia case where two sisters starved themselves to death.


So divorced from their own center had they become that they had taken to leaving accusatory post-it notes on the refrigerator addressed to themselves in the third person: “Susan took a carrot today. Who does she think she is?”


Now while we may not go to such lengths the principle with which we limit ourselves is the same. “Who do I think I am – to want something; to disagree; to dare to dream; to hope for or believe in something other than the reality-illusion presented to me?…”


With such an attitude even when good things happen to us our inner minister may warn us that we will ‘pay for it’.



The (inner) empire strikes back


The beginning is near

The beginning is near


Now lest this paint a rather hopeless and dystopian position we also need to be aware at this point of the inner resources at our disposal.


In traditional Chinese medicine and philosophy two main centers play a role in this:


  • The Higher Self in the Heart center called the Shen
  • The ‘Warrior Spirit’ in the Liver energy center called the Hun


Regardless of what lies we tell ourselves or those that others would convince us of there is a part that always knows – if we listen to it. The heart center is the seat of intuition (as opposed to its poor cousin, superstition) – that small voice that makes us uncomfortable when we feel we or someone else is taking us away from our truth.


Of course we can rationalize this away but we inevitably find it will be to our cost. For an illustrative example of the results of taking that path I refer you to a previous blog here.


By spending some time every day in silence and stillness we begin to re-attune our sensitivity to the inner voice of the Shen. Doing so gives us access to an independent reference in every situation and enhanced confidence to navigate our world.



Falling on our sword


The Warrior spirit of the Hun guides our sense of justice and direction. When we are not true to ourselves or when we buy into the lies of others we risk taking the sword of critical judment to ourselves. The Warrior does not tolerate falsehood and injustice by anyone, even ourself. Self loathing, blame and guilt arise.


When our powerful consciousness-software programs in this way it is only a matter of time before we begin to see the results at the physical level. In particular: the liver chi, containing this energy, controls the liver itself, connective tissue, blood pressure and distribution, parts of digestion and perhaps most importantly, the generation of ‘toxic heat’.


This heat upsets many vital processes in the body and can result in such varied diseases as headaches, skin problems, compromised immunity, irritation all along the digestive tract and even cellular change. It also heats up our emotional life, leaving us quick to flare up in anger.


Self judgment can lead us to condemn ourselves. Repeated ‘accidents’ from drunken mishaps, accidental overdose up to and including violent injury and death are ways we can unconsciously deliver our own judgement upon ourselves. Think of it as a kind of ‘Harakiri’ at the sword of our own inner Warrior.



The longest relationship


The longest relationship we will ever have – longer than with our parents, children, friends or lovers – is with the Self. It pays then to be our own best friend on this journey. Regardless of outward success or ‘failure’ we need to be constant in the loving support and encouragement of ourselves.



“I’m kickin’ my ass!”



Jim Carey, Liar, Liar. All rights reserved.

Jim Carey, Liar, Liar. All rights reserved.


There is nothing honorable in giving ourselves a hard time. It is only self destructive and leads to illness. If we feel we could have done something better then all we need to do is take steps to do better, not berate ourselves for not getting it right the first time. The carrot is far more gentle and ultimately more effective than the whip.



The richest guy in the graveyard



Just because we feel we can do better does not have to mean that we cannot also accept where we are now. Those two ideas need not be mutually exclusive. Someone who says with pride: “I’m never satisfied with my results!” is only doing themselves a disservice.



As high achiever Steve Jobs ironically stated: “I don’t want to be the richest guy in the graveyard”. He died at 56 after a battling pancreatic cancer and a liver transplant.



He’s the richest guy in the graveyard.



Till we live to see another Monday without judgement or guilt,





© Jeremy Halpin all rights reserved. All images are the author’s own unless otherwise indicated or if the original source is unknown at the time of writing. You can subscribe to this blog by clicking the button in the bottom right hand corner of the page – or share it on the social media of your choice. If you have any wishes or questions regarding subjects to be discussed on this blog use the contact information below. Jeremy is also available for seminars, lectures and personal consultation:









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