Judgement and Criticism – A Strategy of Fear?

“Perfectionism is a self destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.”
― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.

Like many of us, I engage in judgment and criticism, it is my ‘default’ to go to.. when I am scared, or confused, or simply not feeling ‘good enough’.  For many of us it is a ‘first responder’ when we feel insecure or when something does not make sense. When we feel that we do not have control it is the judgement that shows up and help us feel somewhat stable.

That is what happened to so many, when a tragic death happened at the Burning Man festival last week. (It happened during the ‘Burning of the Man’, the ritual that culminate the week of the Burning Man event, when a man ran into the fire and died from his injuries. We do not know exactly what happened. Though it may have looked like a suicide, we may never know why it happened.)

Though as the CIT (Critical Incident Team), which is part of the Emergency Services of BM (ESD), we intervene with many crisis, involving participants at Burning Man having emotional difficulties and ‘break-downs’, we have helped many, unfortunately we were not able to save this man life.

Also unfortunately, was the out-pour of judgement and criticism from some of the participants at the event; and in the media and the social media.

Left unchecked we will default to judgement and criticism as fear and trauma look for an outlet.

And YES, there was also a lot of condolences, support, and BurningMan spirit of connecting, sharing, and giving love. The shock of witnessing the tragedy reverberated with the community for a long time, and my ‘psyches on bike’ team was busy helping with some PTSD and other difficulties.

Many of you have asked me about my work at Burning Man.
In a recent post I tried to explain ‘why BM’.. here’s what I wrote..

‘Why BurningMan’..
Every year I go off on my ritual pilgrimage to the Black Rock desert in NV. A madness magic of a temporary community based on sharing, giving, gifting, inclusion, and self reliance. It is also a magnificent display of public art where you can touch, play, dance, meditate, or just BE.
I have found my own way of belonging by volunteering as a mental health professional on the CIT team (critical incident team as part of the Emergency Service). They call us ‘psyches on bikes’…

It is such an amazing experience and experiment of getting out the natural humaness of sharing and giving and participating. Biking around, or sitting having coffee at center camp, or hanging with friends, or visiting other camps, you see connection and interactions. Not many people are on their iPhones!! seriously!!

Burning Man is anything but fun for me. The harsh dusty and extreme conditions, combined with not much sleep, the noise, and the chaos, makes it very challenging. And yet, I get so charged and inspired, by the community of BurningMan; by the inclusion and acceptance; by stories of sharing and helping and rescuing; I love and appreciate my psyches team; the art and creative forces are mind blowing, and as I go through my breakdowns, and breakthroughs, I emerge yet another more vulnerable version of myself.’


In my own relationships, and in my work as a couples therapist for more then two decades, I have found that judgment and criticism break couples apart, and create wounds that are hard to repair.

In the despair and fear of disconnection, we will again, default to protecting ourselves from that fear and loss of control, and protesting the lack of connection, by becoming judgmental.

“People tend to criticize their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need.”
― Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate

Are you longing for Love, Connection, Intimacy, and Vulnerability with your partner, but instead you:

• have recurring fights that go round and round without resolution?Longing Blog by Dalia Anderman, MFT
• lack affection, intimacy, closeness, or sex?
• feel alone, lonely, betrayed, abandoned?

Do you want to:

  • feel more closeness, connection, understanding, and engagement?
  • have good fulfilling communication?
  • learn how to reach for your partner?
  • talk about your need and hopes?

At our Hold Me Tight® couples workshop, in a safe, intimate, private setting, we hold space for couples to become vulnerable and open to explore, experience, touch and talk through issues that have been untouched. It is time set aside to have these conversations that have been waiting for a long time to happen.

Couples Workshop Nevada CityDr. Sue Johnson developed the Hold Me Tight® program based on Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) and her bestselling book, Hold Me Tight, Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love.

She is the primary developer of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) which has demonstrated its effectiveness in over 25 years of peer-reviewed clinical research. It’s outstanding success has been heralded in many scientific journals, professional magazines and the media.

The focus of EFT is to help partners to understand more clearly each other’s deepest emotions. Feelings are often hidden, unexpressed or misunderstood. Our relationships can be a cause of stress and pain or a source of comfort and joy. In EFT, we help couples learn how to deal with their feelings together, reach towards each other, and be responsive in more loving and positive ways.

In our Hold Me Tight® Couples Weekend Workshopwe will be effective, safe, supportive, and validating. Most importantly, the weekend will be positive, proactive and FUN!  The tools you learn will continue to serve your relationship long after this weekend.

At our Hold Me Tight® relationship enhancement Workshop you will learn and experience how to:

• affirm strengths in your relationship by developing understanding and bonding
• address negative cycle patterns, and learn why they show up, and how to get out of them
• learn how to repair and forgive injuries, and become vulnerable with each other
• enhance your emotional, physical, and sexual closeness and INTIMACY

I’m delighted to announce that Fiachra Figs O’Sullivan will be joining me for my next Hold Me Tight® Couples Workshop in Nevada City, CA on October 14-15, 2017.

Husband, dad, wounded-healer and reformed Biz Dev guy, Figs (as heard on NPR’s All Things Considered) is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, certified in EFT. He’s passionate about helping couples feel more connected. Learn more about Figs’ counseling and coaching practice by visiting TherapyWithFigs.com

Hold Me Tight Workshop

Hold Me Tight Workshop

As I keep the groups small and intimate, if you know you want to sign up, I will encourage you to do so shortly, as I do tend to fill up. SPACE IS LIMITED. SO SIGN UP ASAP.

This is a great opportunity to have a deeper and vulnerable look at your relationship, develop new skills to recognize the cycle and patterns that inflict the relationship and keep you separated and apart, and It is also a beautiful time to connect and highlight the strengths of your relationship, and built on the positive that already exist.

  • Please do not hesitate to call me with any questions or for more information. Looking forward to sharing the workshop with you.
  • To sign up please click here.

*Hold Me Tight® is a registered trademark to Sue Johnson.