Let Go of Self-Condemnation


Am I a good person or a bad person? Much of our thinking—conscience and unconscious—centers on this question.


Trying to resolve this quandary can be like mental Ping-Pong.


When everything’s going great, we feel good about ourselves. We believe we’re decent. Respectable. We’re on top of the world.


But when our inner critic takes over we condemn ourselves. We doubt. We sense there’s something wrong with us. We’re bad. Shameful. Disgraced. We’re not worth a lick.


Why do we spend so much time like whirling dervishes condemning ourselves, questioning our inherent goodness?

Maybe it’s because as youngsters we learned a bastardized style of humility. We twisted the logic of putting others first into the misnomer that we should be last. We failed to grasp true humility, which allows us to be grounded in loving ourselves so we can love God and others more fully.


Maybe the inner conflict comes from continuously setting the bar higher for ourselves by focusing on our shortcomings, pushing ourselves to work harder, to be better. But, because we have to constantly reach higher we never fully measure up to our grandiose expectations. We never allow ourselves to celebrate our accomplishments.


Our inner dilemma could also spring from the fact that somewhere along the line someone told us we were bad. They condemned us with their words or behavior. We then internalized their message, rejecting ourselves, abandoning our self-worth.


Whatever its cause, our self-condemnation is based upon a faulty belief: there’s something wrong with me.


When Jesus met the woman caught in adultery he did not condemn her. Instead his words were those of love: I do not condemn you. Go.


Jesus saw the good in the woman and drew it out of her. He helped her see her inner beauty. He affirmed the truth within all of us: there is nothing wrong with me. We are good because we are created in the image and likeness of the One who is love.


So, what would happen if we let go of our self-condemnation? If we replaced our fear of being bad with the wisdom of knowing we are good?


Perhaps we’d find more room to enjoy life. Laugh. We’d discover our own inner beauty, our generosity, compassion and care for others and ourselves.


We might discover who we really are, at our core. Good. Whole. Loving. And as we grow in self-knowledge of the love within us, it might then pour forth to embrace others; to let them know they are good too.


True wisdom, the divine reality, the core of being fully human is that there isn’t anything wrong with us. Fundamentally we are good. We are love. We may have things we need to work on toward becoming more fully human, but there is nothing fundamentally wrong with us.


 Ponder this for a moment: There is nothing fundamentally wrong with me.

How does this truth change me on the inside?

How does my view of others, God, and myself shift when I embrace the truth that I am good?





  1. Unfortunately for some of us, immersion in Christian theology has reinforced other cultural messages insisting we are essentially flawed, broken, not good. It’s as if any good impulse is clouded by the dark lining of essential badness. Freudian theory together with the distorted concept of “total depravity,” are powerful forces for enslavement.

    I also recognize those thoughts and preoccupations that reinforce these same negative messages within me. Like steam disappearing into the atmosphere, our assertions of essential goodness are dissipated by internal resistance to re-frame or reject such negative beliefs. Such beliefs, rejected intellectually while continuing to find their home deep within our spirits, have enormous power to overcome our assertions of essential goodness. They are a force that, by the grace of God, need to be extinguished. Only then can we live fully into the freedom I believe the Creator desires for all of us.

    May we all live into the strength of the Creator’s love for us and for all of Creation!

  2. One of my children said it best.

    Everyone wants a piece of me – a piece for this cause -another piece over there and another piece over here
    – etc. Then when I look around I find there is nothing left of me. I realize the body of Christ is very large. But many of us have to learn the that everyone does not have the same talents. I have a favorite song by Neil Diamond – “I’ve been this way before and I will be this way again”. It was written for the movie Jonathan Livingston Seagull. It never made it into the movie, as it was written after production had started. It is kind of a lament as to when one finally gets the message.

    One last thing thought taken from a framed article in a sale catalog – “What if you wake up TODAY with only what you thanked GOD for YESTERDAY”.

    Have a blessed day.


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