January 28, 2011

Observe, Don’t Judge

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:00 am by kellyfdennis

I hope the last post was helpful to you in figuring out how to hear the nasty girl when she speaks and discerning her function and purpose.  I listed some common themes and needs that you may have discovered.  Please realize, though, that you may have discovered additional themes, needs, feelings, etc.  There are many ways in which she criticizes, cajoles, and pushes.  The journey we are going to begin today will help with whatever messages you may have discovered coming from her.

One of the most common themes which seem to plague the people who sit across from me is one of judgment. As I’ve mentioned before the habit of judgment is adaptive and functional to a certain degree.  We need to evaluate situations and surrounding to learn more and make decisions about our circumstances. It becomes dysfunctional, however, when we turn that judgment (good or bad) onto our selves or other people.

One way to silence your nasty girl in this department is to practice the mindfulness skill of non-judgment.  I’ve touched on this before as it relates to our emotional experience. If we can practice a non-judgmental attitude in various situations, we become better prepared to “talk back” to the nasty girl when she makes harmful judgments.

To review the concept of mindfulness:

Goldstein & Kornfield, 1987, say: Mindfulness is that quality of attention which notices without choosing, without preference.  It is a choice-less awareness that, like the sun, shines on all things equally.

Marlatt, 1994, describes it as this: Mindfulness accepts present experience as one of constant change.  All experiences arise and pass away like waves on the sea and mindfulness accepts this on a moment-to-moment basis.  There is not an attempt to control or fix the present moment or what happens next.

So, it’s being in the moment; accepting, observing, not fixing or judging as good or bad. Try the following experiments and see if you can apply the mindfulness skill of non-judgment in these everyday situations.

The Media: The next time you read the newspaper or watch the news, read or watch without judgment.  Practice noticing the facts, realizing that “it is what it is”; stay neutral, stay detached, just observe. After you’ve tried it, take a few moments to jot down your experience.  What was it like to practice non-judgment? How difficult was it to shift from evaluating to just observing? Did you have to do anything inside yourself to avoiding judging?

Strangers:  Ever notice how many times we evaluate people we don’t even know based on their behavior, appearance, etc.? See if you can watch others at the mall or on the street, just noticing the facts, staying neutral, just observing. Realizing that as human beings we are doing what we need to do to meet our needs at that current moment given the information we have at the time. Again, write a bit about your experience.  Was it difficult not to evaluate the behaviors or appearance of others? What was the hardest to accept?

Yourself: This one is probably the most difficult.  We are almost constantly in the process of judging ourselves.  Pay attention to how many times today the nasty girl makes a judgment of you.  Tomorrow try to just observe yourself without evaluation (good or bad). Practice just noticing the facts, realizing that “it is what it is”; stay neutral, stay detached, just observe. After you’ve tried it, take a few moments to jot down your experience.  What happened in your mind as you tried to push evaluation away and just observe?  Was it difficult to just mindfully observe yourself?

In the next post I’ll talk about how to use the concept of non-judgment to work on an accurate self-assessment; something you’ll need to talk back to that “Nasty Girl”.

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ponderings on life, food, God, and love

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