One of the key elements of Mindfulness is practicing the non-judgmental stance.
Mindfulness refers to awareness of the present moment without judgment and the thing is… judgments are often difficultfor us to notice and sometimes even more difficult for us to shake.
One thing to keep in mind is that judgments can be useful. They allowus to have quick descriptions by creating simple categories and they’re fast, shorthand ways of describing preferences and consequences. At timeswe do need to make judgments very quickly in order to act. For example, if we’re driving and someone is swerving into our lane, we have to make a quick judgment in that moment – so judgments sometimes can be useful.
There can be some problems with judgments too. They have a tendency to distract us from what’s actually happening so they might replace facts. In times when we’re judging, we stop observing or becoming aware and noticing what’s going on for us. They also tend to feed negative emotions like a guilt or shame.
Positive judgments can also be a little bit problematic because they can be fragile. Things we often think of as good can very quickly turn bad for us if they don’t meet our expectations. It can be helpful for us to learn to let go of judgments so that when they’re useful for us, we can draw upon them and when they’re not really serving us, we can actually do something else.
Here are a couple of steps for letting go of judgments that I wanted to share with you. One, just get into the practice of noticing your judgments – keep a tally of them! you can use a journal with the tracking judgments sheet I am including for you. In my Mindfulness Matters group, we use judgment jar where we place a marble in the jar every time there is a judgment that’s shared. That way, we have an opportunity to just stop and notice what it was that brought on the judgment and whether it’s something that’s helpful for us or not and how we can replace it.
I’m including the judgment tracker journal sheet FREE for you to easily integrate into your day!
What you might notice as you start practicing noticing your judgments is that it feels like you’re doing a lot of judging. Then you might judge the judging. As we’re becoming aware of it, we start noticing more and more. That doesn’t mean we’re doing it more – we’re just becoming more and more aware.
After we start noticing our judgments, we might want to ask ourselves “Is this judgment helping or hurting me?” If the answer is that it’s helping us, we notice ways that we can contribute to our lives and that judgment or that thought that we’re having actually impact us. As a result, we have the option of taking action. If it’s something that’s hurting us, we have some tools for what we can do to let go of that judgment. We might reevaluate and become aware of what it was that we were judging and then replace it with statements of preference. We can also replace judgments with statements of consequences or statements of fact, or things that we’re observing with each of our senses.
In doing this, we practice accepting what it is that we notice.This way, we can more easily allow the judgments to drift away with more and more practice. As you progress, you may notice that there’s more judging and you’re likely going to be tempted to judge that judging. Instead, allow yourself to just notice that and come back to awareness of what’s going on for you.
P.S. I explore this skill in DEPTH through my 8 session group in Mindfulness Matters!
Space is limited to ensure that everyone in the group feels heard and has a meaningful experience.
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Don’t forget that I post tips, tricks, information, and even more resources on my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube pages – along with a Mindful Monday mini-series on the “Beyond the Couch” podcast so that you have an overflowing supply of tools to get you feeling like your best self in the life you want to celebrate!
Share a comment and tell me how you quoted your inner critic and its judgments today!
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