“How” Skills: Nonjudgmentally

The next set of mindfulness skills are the “How” skills. These skills are used to take back control of your mind in a way that rivets you to the moment. They include nonjudgmentally, one-mindfully, and effectively. Today I will talk about nonjudgmentally and what it means to practice this skill.

The goals of nonjudgmentally are:

  • See, but don’t evaluate as good or bad.
    • Just the facts
  • Accept each moment like a blanket spread out on the lawn.
    • Accept both the rain and the sun
  • Acknowledge the difference between helpful and harmful, but don’t judge them.
  • Acknowledge your values, wishes, and emotional reactions, but don’t judge them.
  • When you find yourself judging, don’t judge your judging.

To practice nonjudgmentally, you must leave out comparisons, judgments, and assumptions. Here I will lay out for you the many ways you can practice this skill in every day life.

Practice observing judgmental thoughts and statements. Say to yourself, “a judgment thought arose in my mind.”
Count judgmental thoughts or statements.
Replace judgmental thoughts and statements with nonjudgmental thoughts and statements.
1. Describe the facts using only what is observed through your senses.
2. Describe the consequences. Keep to the facts.
3. Describe your own feelings in response to the facts.
Observe and change your judgmental facial expressions, postures, and voice tones.
Write out a nonjudgmental description of an event that prompted an emotion.
Imagine someone you are angry with and try to become that person to see life from their point of view. Imagine being that person and understanding their thoughts, feelings, fears, hopes, and wishes. Putting yourself in their shoes can help you to understand that person and, in turn, decrease the anger you feel toward them.

Turning Judgmental Thoughts and Statements into Nonjudgmental Thoughts and Statements

In order to practice being nonjudgmental, it is important to understand the difference between judgmental and nonjudgmental. Statements that determine something as good or bad, happy or sad, positive or negative, are judgmental statements. When practicing nonjudgmentally, use statements that follow the formula “When X, I feel Y.” Focus on just the facts and observing a situation for what it is rather than what you feel or think about it.

Judgmental Thoughts and StatementsNonjudgemental Thoughts and Statements
I am not enough.When I am ignored in a conversation, I feel inadequate.
I am a great person.When I do something nice for someone else, I feel good.
She is prettier than me.When I look at her, I feel inferior.

“Judgment is the absence of love.”

Dalai Lama
Personal Experience

Judgments come in all different shapes and sizes, from those directed at others to those directed at ourselves. I have always found myself to be judgmental of myself in particular. For example, in a group setting, whether it is with friends or people I am just meeting, I often worry about what I am going to say and how others will react to it. I worry about what they might think of me if I say the wrong thing and often feel inadequate if I don’t have anything to contribute to the conversation. Judgmental thoughts enter my mind, such as “I am not important,” “No one would even notice if I wasn’t here,” or “I have nothing to say that is worth saying.” These thoughts cause distress on my part and cause me to feel inferior to those around me. In learning and practicing nonjudgmentally, I have reached the ability to change my thoughts and turn them away from any type of judgment. Instead, when a judgmental thought arises, I say to myself, “a judgmental thought is arising in my mind.” I take that judgmental thought and think about how I can turn it into a nonjudgmental thought. I think to myself, “When everyone is talking and I am not contributing, I feel unimportant.” This change in thinking allows me to understand why I am judging myself and how I can change it. Instead of sitting there thinking horrible things about myself, I think about the facts of the situation and how I can contribute to the conversation in order to feel important. Changing your own thoughts is a difficult process but every day practice of nonjudgmentally can aid in easing your mind and forcing any judgmental thoughts and statements out of your head.

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