Imagine that you’re having a heated conversation.

The other person says something you perceive to be harsh, and you get flooded by intense emotion.

Your muscles clench. Your face gets hot. Your heart races.

Suddenly, you hear yourself lashing out with hurtful words. Or, you abruptly end the conversation with a roll of the eyes and a menacing glance. Not your best moment.

Your inner Victim— the part of you who reacts with blame— is triggered.

Later, when the argument is over, your inner Judge comes out and chastises for how you reacted—

“You should know better. You’re so stupid. How dare you react like that?!”

In its defense, your inner Victim argues that it’s the other person’s or even the situation’s fault you reacted this way.

Then, the Judge chastises you again.

The Victim-Judge Revolving Door

When you’re triggered, it can feel like you’re trapped in a Victim-Judge Revolving Door. Sometimes, the Victim-Judge Revolving Door sounds like a loud argument. Other times, it’s just a nasty dialogue that takes place inside your head.

Either way, it’s the good old blame-shame cycle. First, you blame. Then, you shame. And around and around you go.

So, how to get untrapped?

First, pause.

The first step to get outside of the Victim-Judge revolving door is to pause when you get triggered.

John Gottman, psychology researcher and clinician known for his work on marital stability, writes that when we’re emotionally triggered or flooded, it’s as though our rational mind turns off. If we continue a conversation, we’re likely to say or do things that damage the relationship.

If you feel compelled to criticize the other person or react in a way you might later regret, do your absolute best to pause for a moment and breathe until you calm down. If you can’t calm down, take a break from the conversation and return after a short and agreed-upon amount of time.

Next, witness the Victim and the Judge.

Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, shares a transformative practice for taking your power back from the Victim and the Judge. He calls this practice the Mitote. Don Miguel teaches that in the Nahuatl language, mitote means marketplace, which sounds like a thousand voices talking with nobody understanding each other.

In the Mitote practice, you embody the perspective of a compassionate witness and shine light on what the Judge and the Victim are saying, writing each of the voices down over and over, until you feel complete.

By compassionately shining light on what the Judge and the Victim are saying, you bring the banter that was already rattling around in your unconscious to the light of consciousness, and this strips them of their power. This practice can bring a profound sense of relief.

I invite you to try this now.

Grab a piece of paper and a pen. When you feel ready, think of a recent situation in which you said something to another person that you later regretted. Or, you may think of a situation in which you’ve acted in a way that you feel okay about, but deep down, you keep oscillating back and forth between blaming and shaming.

First, take a moment to feel your breath and embody the compassionate witness perspective.

Then, listen to what the Victim is saying and write it down. You know the Victim is active if you’re investing any energy blaming the other person for the situation you’re in. Use your non-dominant hand to tap into the feeling of powerlessness. Allow the Victim to rant on the paper— What is the Victim saying? Write it down.

When the Victim feels complete, write down what the Judge is saying. You know that Judge is active if you’re criticizing yourself. Take time to sense into its energy and voice. Ask yourself— What is the Judge saying this situation means about me? Then, using your dominant hand, write down everything that comes up.

Go back and forth between the Victim and the Judge, writing what each of them is saying until you feel complete. When you feel complete, observe what each has said from the perspective of the compassionate witness, not judging what they said or trying to change it.

Notice how you feel in your body and the overall effect of the experience. In one sitting, you may experience a deep sense of relief. Or, you may need to practice many times before you turn down the volume of the Victim and the Judge a significant amount.

If you often feel like you’re swirling in the Victim-Judge Revolving Door, I encourage you to do this practice every day.

With time, you’ll notice that things that used to trigger you no longer have the same impact and that you feel much more settled and centered, even when you don’t get what you want.

I invite you to share—

How was this exercise for you? What takeaways or questions does it bring up for you?

Please share below, and I will make sure to respond!

With so much love,

Katherine

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