The Judge Archetype

How To Stop The Assault Of The Judge Archetype

Key Point: The Judge Archetype can cause you to reject both yourself and others

Before reading about the Judge archetype, you may wish to read the introductory article on archetypes.

Did you know that within each and every one of us there resides a rulebook? It's an internal rulebook that has evolved from your lifetime of experiences and is filled with the do's and don'ts by which you run your life. This rulebook contains your beliefs, values and attitudes. And, unfortunately, most people don't realize these rules are running their lives.

Exacerbating the problem, is that we each have a slightly different rulebook.  And, it is these differing (and often hidden from our conscious mind) rules, that create so much of the conflict in the workplace, at home and in the community. 

In fact, the vast majority of conflict in any organization is, at the root of it, a conflict in beliefs.

Let's pry in to your rulebook for the moment. What are some of the rules that you grew up with? You may possibly be familiar with rules such as ...

  • Only speak when spoken to
  • Don't talk with your mouth full
  • Respect your elders
  • Don't tell lies
  • Be on time

Maybe some of these rules resonate for you, maybe not. It will depend upon the influencers around you as you grew up, and what their rulebook said was 'acceptable.'

For example, in many countries it is expected that people belch after a meal to prove their satisfaction with the meal. In other countries this would be seen as the height of bad manners.

Don't be mistaken, there are some good rules. Like 'Be courteous to people in the street' 'Don't get drunk on the job.'

These are the types of rules that we need for society to function. But there are many, many, many rules that are just plain dumb. They have very little to do with making society tick, and a lot to do with people trying to control others.

Without you even being consciously aware of it, your inner self is constantly using this rule book - containing the values, attitudes and beliefs that you have picked up from your family and friends - to decide what is right, what is wrong, what is acceptable, what is unacceptable.

I'd like to introduce you to this inner part of yourself, which is known as the Judge Archetype.

Who is the Judge Archetype

The Judge Archetype, is the voice residing within you that you are probably very familiar with, in fact so familiar that you possibly don't even realize just how much s/he rules your world.

The Judge is the critical inner voice that constantly finds fault and rejects.

In fact, you are filled with judgments about yourself, your children, your partner, your co-workers, your neighbors, and even the people you pass on the street.

Your Judge wants you to look good, to conform, to act, to dress, to speak in acceptable ways ... in other words, to fit in.

The fear of being rejected is so strong, that the Judge frantically works to keep you inside the safety zone. Stopping you from stepping outside the boundaries to where you could get hurt. (Hurt emotionally, not physically).

Your judge archetype, armed with his or her rule book, robs you of your peace of mind with endless criticism about: 

  • what you, or others, should do or should have done
  • how you should act
  • how much money you should make
  • how you should be in a relationship

every way that you should be and act is in that rulebook

Certainly, the Judge has a different impact on each of us. A bit like the volume on your stereo, for some the Judge is loud and blaring. Others have learned to turn the volume down and it is a gentle hum in the background. But still, its noise is always with us. So, it is certainly worth discovering more about the Judge archetype and how to limit its negative impact.

What is the greatest rear of every person?

Rejection. Numerous studies have shown that people's #1 fear is Public Speaking, what's that a fear of?


It is the fear that people aren't going to find me good enough.

Protecting you from rejection is what the judge holds as its very noble purpose. To protect you and stop you from being hurt.

Every single human-being at their inner core wants to be loved and accepted.

But, unless you start by loving yourself, you certainly can’t expect to be loved and approved of by others.

And, this is ultimately what your judge archetype teaches you. That the only person who can reject you is you. 

The judge is all about helping you to learn about acceptance, forgiveness and love. For yourself and then for others.

Have you ever woken up at 2 a.m. thinking, "Why was I so stupid? "Why did I do this or Why did I say that?" "What was I thinking ..." This is the voice of your Judge.

We often punish ourselves over and over for the same mistake, which sets a belief deep in your sub-conscious that you are not worthy or capable.

We are the only animal that punishes ourselves over and over and over for a mistake. If a lion is chasing an antelope and misses it, does it brood and say to itself, over and over, 'You are such an idiot how could you miss that'. Of course not - the lion simply goes, 'Where's the next antelope!' Unfortunately, humans tend to have a bad habit of replaying our mistakes over and over.

You must look at your mistakes, but rather than wasting energy scolding yourself, your focus must be to learn from your mistakes and on what you are going to do differently next time.

Left Unchecked, The Judge Costs You Dearly

Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the influence and control the judge exerts over them, and when unchecked the damage it can do.

Like all archetypes, most of these conversations and reactions happen deep in your sub-conscious. When you don't learn how to manage the Judge's criticism it can cost you dearly and lower your performance.

Breakthrough Reflection

Monitor what you say to yourself and others. When you hear your inner judge being critical or negative, stop and reframe the words.

For example, if you hear yourself thinking, "I am so stupid!" stop and rethink that statement.

Are you really stupid?

Of course not.

Instead tell yourself, "I am a smart person. I may make mistakes from time to time, but I learn from those mistakes, which enhances my wealth of experience and wisdom."

During the next week focus on being kinder and more uplifting to yourself.

The significant power the Judge wields in your relationships

Whilst, so far we've focused primarily on judging yourself and your own performance, know that the Judge also wields a significant amount of power over your reactions to others.

The minute someone does something that breaks the rules in your personal rulebook, you notch up a mark against them. If you are a leader in an organization this can be a very dangerous thing.

Hot Tip - Leaders be Aware!

If you've got someone, whom you are feeling particularly tense about the way he or she goes about things, you may need to remember that, sometimes another person's way is just a different way. Is the person you are judging simply undertaking a task in a different way or style to you, yet they will still achieve their outcome?

Could it just be your own restrictive rules, that are getting in the way here?

For example, say, you have a starting time of 8:30 am. (And that doesn't have an impact on customer service). Now for some people who were raised to be prompt and punctual, if 8:30 am is the official start time they believe you should be at work ready to go somewhere between 8.00 and 8:15.

For others, 8:30 am is simply a guideline. As long as the work gets done, to them it really doesn't matter whether you start at 8.15, or 8.30 or 8.45.

Problems arise if these two people have to work together.

The person who is time driven, will see the other person, who turns up late, as being disrespectful, rude, undisciplined, as an under-performer.

For the person who is more flexible with their starting time, they see the other person as being too rigid.

Woe betide, if the person who is rigid about starting times is the leader.

Because on the conscious level, all the leader is aware of is, "This person should be on time".

They often don't push themselves to the depth of, 'Why do I feel this way'. Most people stop at, "This isn't right".

How does it feel if you have someone judging you or disapproving of you? What fear does it kick off for you? It is probably triggering that deep fear, "I'm going to be rejected".

When you stand in judgment of another, it can make it very difficult to bring out the greatness in them. Because in judging someone all we are doing is triggering his or her primal fear: "I'm not good enough".

When people are feeling under threat, they do one of two things. They fight or they flee.

If you want that response, from the people that you work with, then go ahead...

stand in judgment.

However, if you really want people to be at their best, aligning with their potential, then you'll need to do something different.

High-performance leaders discuss performance in a charge-neutral way

Certainly, if someone is under-performing, you don't ignore the problem. Successful High Performance Leaders discuss the performance, BUT without standing in judgment. It has a 'charge-neutral' feel to it.

With practice, you can recognize when another person has engaged your Judge. Which gives you the option to reframe your response, and turn to the high performance option. Which is to let the person know that, whilst you may, or may not, necessarily agree with what he or she has done, you don't reject them for their actions. 

One of the greatest gifts you can give to a person is to never criticize them over a mistake they have made or something they can't fix. Simply sit them down and then ask:

  • Do you accept responsibility?
  • What did you learn?
  • What are you going to do differently next time?

This is far more powerful than beating them up and judging them. Help them to learn through their problems.

Organizations with lots of restrictive rules and regulations are managed by people who are driven by their Judge Archetype

Leaders who are driven by the Judge, certainly wouldn't describe themselves as fearful. Yet their behavior shows us otherwise.

Afraid that if they don't control the situation and others, then chaos will follow and it will reflect poorly on them. That they will be blamed for it. They are afraid they will be judged as incompetent, unworthy, not good enough.

Who are they afraid of?

Well, more often than not, the restrictive, fearful leader hasn't thought that through. It is simply an automatic, instinctive impulse.

Mostly people don't realize that the 'something bad' they are afraid of is Rejection.

If ever you have had that choking feeling of trying to control everything and everyone around you. Of feeling that only YOU can get it right. Then rest assured, you have within you some unexamined fear. You are being driven by your Judge to perform and protect yourself from possible rejection.

When The Judge Rules You Always Play A Small Game

You can also guarantee that you are playing a fairly small game. Great leaders know, that as their world expands, they can't control everything.

They have to let go, and believe in, and trust the people who work with them. If they don't, they will surely limit their own and their organization's success.

Organizations such as Nordstrom, Zappos and Southwest Airlines are run with few rules. Instead they encourage people to use their own best judgment.

Leaders, who aren't driven by an internal fear of being not good enough, run organizations such as these. They are leaders who have come to understand that the person who judges them most harshly ... is him or herself.

When you retire yourself from being "the Captain Of The World" 

  • trying to control everyone and everything around you, with lots of shoulds, musts, and have tos
  • when you get rid of all the dumb rules that inhibit powerful performance
  • when you no longer run your life by unexamined, subconscious fears

then your life will become oh such much easier, power-filled and truly successful.

As you minimize your Judge you give yourself the opportunity to operate at your highest capability.

Recommended Resources

To learn more about the Judge archetype I highly recommend the book "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz.

I recommend every client I work with, in a coaching relationship, read this book as part of his or her journey with me.

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