Does Your Inner Judge Judy Try to Convince You That You Can’t Do It Dr. Emily Colwell

Does Your Inner Judge Judy Try to Convince You That You Can’t Do It?

Emily ColwellInner Dialogue, Anxiety, Authentic Self, Inner Judge Judy, Micro-Moment Reset, stories Leave a Comment

We’ve ALL got that inner Judge Judy who loves to yammer on in unsupportive and even downright mean ways inside our minds. And sometimes this voice becomes so routine that we stop noticing its presence and it simply runs in the background. But this doesn’t stop its words from impacting how we feel.

Do you know how often my inner Judge Judy likes to tell me I can’t do something?! Ummm, a LOT! In all different areas of my life, too. 

I hear, “You can’t do this!” when I’m teaching myself how to edit videos and it feels overwhelmingly complicated. The phrase shows up when I’m working on my book and get to a more challenging part. And it turns out I hear it when I’m exercising!

A friend recently recommended an online exercise program called The Class by Taryn Toomey ( Have you heard of it?  She said the language they use reminds her of how I talk in my blogs, videos, etc.

Well, I’m here to tell you, she is so right! It turns out The Class IS aligned with my perspective and it’s AWESOME!

It’s a cross between yoga, pilates, cardio, and mindfulness. One thing the instructors consistently do is invite participants to notice the stories and thoughts our minds are telling us while moving through the classes. And you know what? It’s fascinating to pause in that micro-moment and tune into those thoughts that normally fly under the radar.

As I start a class and notice my muscles feeling tired, my mind starts declaring, “You can’t do this! You’re not strong enough! You’re not doing it like the instructor! Why can’t you get this move down? You can’t do this right!” 

I initially found this upsetting. I didn’t want that thought to be running on repeat! I made it wrong. I saw it as something I needed to get over. My mind hunted for the original cause of this repetitive story. I put on my working hat and started searching for how to get rid of it.

But it didn’t take me long to remember that this approach is ALWAYS the harder way! Making ourselves wrong for how we’re thinking or feeling…well, it feels bad and overwhelming and it should! Feeling like there’s something wrong with you that needs to be fixed? Ugh!! It creates an urgent sense that you must find the fix and quickly!

But what if we don’t make ourselves wrong? Does this change our experience? You bet it does!

So I purposely stopped making my frequent “You can’t do this!” companion wrong. Instead, I became curious about it. I tuned in to what it felt like in my body when this phrase was playing. I switched my focus from the attic (my mind) and invited it down into the house (my body). This led me to talk to my tired muscles and cheer them on. I’d say, “Look at you guys go! You’re amazing! Look how much stronger you’re becoming!” 

I didn’t insist that my muscles keep going. It was ok if they needed to stop. But something interesting happened as I shifted my focus from the story in my mind to the experience in my body. I was suddenly able to stick with the exercises. The muscle fatigue I was feeling faded as my presence with my body and muscles grew.

Obviously, this felt better to me!

But there was something even cooler that I became aware of through these micro-moment pauses with my “you can’t do it” companion. I realized that my mind always assumes the presence of this phrase means I’m at the cusp of giving up.

I mean, I can see this in other parts of life, too! As I taught myself to do the more technically advanced video editing and heard the inner “you can’t do it!”, I felt ready to give up. As I’ve worked on different sections of my book, the phrase has clamored loudly in my head, making me want to give up. And as I’m doing The Class, it repeatedly shows up, too, calling me to quit.

But guess when else I notice this “you can’t do it” declaration?! When I’m standing along the water’s edge at the ocean. The cold water rushes up over my feet and my mind screams, “No! You can’t do this! It’s too cold!” and my body recoils in resistance. But guess what follows? NOT a giving up, but a moving forward! Why? Because I KNOW that amazingness will follow that initial shock of cold as I dive into the waves and swim with abandon.

And this is EXACTLY the understanding that my micro-moment pause with my “you can’t do it” companion offered me. When I stopped making myself and this phrase wrong for showing up, this made room for its gifts to become clear.

How often I believe that when my inner Judge Judy shows up yelling that phrase at me, it means it’s time for me to throw in the towel. But it turns out it means I’m just getting started! And I can look back at so many moments in my life when this phrase overwhelmed my mind and I can recognize that I really WAS only getting started!

Yes, I questioned whether I could master those more advanced, techy aspects of video editing. But you know what? I moved through the doubt and into proud mastery that honestly shocked the heck out of my doubting mind! Yes, I’ve pulled my hair out (figuratively, ok? 🤣)  numerous times as I navigate writing my book, but what starts as an urge to give up turns into words of clarity spilling onto the page.  And suddenly I’m in that metaphorical, glorious, icy ocean water, swimming my heart out!

So why am I sharing about my recent exercise-induced “you can’t do it!” inner Judge Judy moments? So you can know you aren’t alone in YOURS!

We’ve ALL got that inner Judge Judy who loves to yammer on in unsupportive and even downright mean ways inside our minds. And sometimes this voice becomes so routine that we stop noticing its presence and it simply runs in the background. But this doesn’t stop its words from impacting how we feel.

But what if it turns out we don’t have to take the words of our inner Judge Judy at face value? I know it can feel HARD to believe this when these words come at you so constantly and feel so convincing. But I’ve learned that ANY stories or words that make us feel shame, a tightness in our bodies, and an urgent need to fix ourselves are NOT coming from the guidance of our kind, wise inner compass.

So I invite you to pause in the micro-moments of your day to notice what inner thoughts, words, or stories are running under YOUR radar, impacting how you feel. What if it turns out those words are not what they seem? What if they simply reflect one small perspective being offered by your inner Judge Judy? And what if a broader, more supportive perspective also sits quietly, perched inside you, waiting to be heard?

THIS is the power of pausing to be present in the micro-moment with whatever is showing up. It creates space for the more empowering perspectives of our inner compass to surface and show us just how capable and amazing we really are. And who doesn’t want that, right? ❤️

P.S. Know a loved one or friend who is looking for relief in THIS moment? Share my free MICRO-MOMENT RESET with them so they can move into relief, feel more ease, and find more clarity without having to work so hard to make it all happen.

P.S.S. If you’ve been enjoying my weekly blogs and are itching for more daily inspiration, follow me on Facebook (Emily Colwell), Instagram (dr.emily_colwell), and Youtube ( . I post frequently and humor leaks into most of my posts!


Emily Colwell, MSSW, ND

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