It doesn’t matter if you’re new to mindfulness or not, you more than likely have heard somewhere that you’ve heard a little about intentional non-judgmental awareness in the present. DBT includes mindfulness in its therapy and non-judgmental awareness is part of that. However, there tends to be some confusion about the term non-judgment. So, what does this term actually mean?
Better or Purer Definition
To begin with, the term “mindfulness” could better be termed as simple awareness. However, the problem with that is that this is just a noun, how about mindfulness as a verb? Which means how it is used with meditation or how it’s applied to our daily activities, how is that defined? We might call mindfulness awareness that’s actually in action or that our awareness is actually being applied in our lives. On its’ own, true awareness simply doesn’t have any judgment in its definition. Judgment is actually a thought that will arise within our awareness.
For example, let’s say that you’re a food critic. As a food critic, you are allowed to make judgments when you’re tasting food. Can you still be mindful while doing this? Well, of course, you can. It’s the awareness of a discerning mind that is actually mindfulness. You always have the choice to taste the food intentionally then taste it again to allow for savoring the food to actually take place.
Non-Judgmental Awareness & Parenting
If you happen to be a parent, you are allowed to be able to judge the actions of your child as being dangerous or inappropriate and you then can set down safe boundaries for them. This is absolutely alright to do. By using non-judgmental awareness that will allow you to have clarity about what is unhealthy or healthy for your child’s development.
It’s the non-judgmental awareness contained in mindfulness that lets you as a parent to make a choice to apply some self-compassion while you are experiencing difficult moments raising your child especially if you feel stuck and realize that you aren’t the only one that might be in a tough situation.
Non-Judgmental Awareness and Depression
If you are someone that deals with depression and you feel like you are starting to get depressed, it’s vital to become aware of any signs of relapse and then be able to use non-judgmental awareness in order to begin doing the things that are going to be more supportive of yourself. This also can be applied to the daily stress, anxiety, behaviors that are addictive and reactions to trauma in your life.
Constantly Making Judgments
Our brains are constantly being challenged to make judgments that are based on our own experiences in order to find the best way to healing for yourself or for others in your life. It is far easier to make non-judgmental awareness choices if you are mindful while doing it. Through mindfulness, a person can decide if something is unhealthy or healthy. Through mindfulness and non-judgmental awareness, you are able to discern when it might be a good opportunity to try and nurture a persons’ insight or when it might be alright for you to give your own interpretation.
One of the main reasons why non-judgmental awareness is used is because if the brain is left on its own it will automatically begin to judge what things are bad or good, fair or unfair, wrong or right, unimportant or important, as well as what is urgent and what isn’t. This will happen so fast that experiences we’re having will be automatically be colored when they first come to us. So this means mindfulness is all about being completely aware of this and then you can take on a new perspective.
Key to Bring Awareness and Intentionality to Moments in Our Lives
It’s very important that we make sure that we have the ability to bring awareness and intentionality to the present moments in our lives. We need to become aware of when our brain is starting to automatically judge a person or a certain situation. Then take a moment to pause and get a better perspective on the situation or person.
Through non-judgmental awareness, you can take the time to ask yourself if the judgments are something just popped into your mind and is there some other way for you to see the situation. By bringing mindfulness to life means that you are being alive. It lets you bring back choices in your daily life instead of allowing your brain to have total control.
Exercises to Help With Non-Judgmental Awareness and Thinking
Creating non-judgmental awareness is something that’s taught in DBT skills groups. This is part of the mindfulness training that’s found in DBT. Mindfulness will teach people to learn how to observe and then describe their own behaviors. This necessary when there are new behaviors that are being learned. This is especially true when there is a problem or there is a need for some sort of change.
These DBT skills are meant to help improve a persons’ ability to be able to observe along with describe themselves along with their environment in a non-judgmental way. This will help to enhance their ability to be able to participate in life far more effectively.
Non-Judgmental Awareness Stance – This is not judging something as bad or good. It is a way of seeing things simply as they are and then just focusing on the simple facts.
Being Judgmental is Often a Way of Stating Ones’ Preference
Judgments can often be inaccurate and spontaneous interpretations of the environment around us that often influences our thoughts and behaviors. For instance, if we decide to judge some clothing as beautiful we are actually expressing our preference for this particular thing. So, if we say it’s ugly, then this is a way for us saying we don’t prefer this item. The problem with this way of thinking is that we often forget our judgments simply are not always based on facts, but they are just our own personal preferences or opinions that are based on our personal experiences.
The formation of judgments is generally a process that’s spontaneous. There are times though, that we do need to make judgments. But, to be able to reduce our emotional reactions, it is very important that we become aware of our own judgmental way of thinking and learn to develop an ability to start thinking in a non-judgmental way.
Exercises That Cultivate a Non-Judgmental Stance
Focus on Your Language
It is often hard to maintain a non-judgmental stance when you are experiencing a crisis or when under stress. Often you may want to try and identify common judgmental phrases and words that might trigger you to stop, then observe what you’re thinking. Some of the most common words that are judgmental include:
Identify Common Judgmental Words and Phrases Such As:
I’m a bad person
I am stupid
I am being weak
I’m just not worth it
Focus on Your Breathing
It’s important that you focus on your breathing. Breathing is a way to help you to become more relaxed, calm down, and to slow down your thinking. It also enables you to get in touch with the present and to let go of your judgments and thoughts you might have about your future and your past.
Learn to Notice Your Thoughts
It’s important that you strive to bring your attention back to your judgments and thoughts. Especially when you are engaged in doing simple things like eating for instance. Try to notice your thoughts you’re having about the food you are eating. Don’t let your thoughts counter any of your judgments and just notice the thoughts are there.
Learn that your judgments will tend to activate some extreme emotions. If you really want to live a life that’s non-judgmental, you will first need to learn to become more aware of your automatic judgments and thoughts.
Through DBT you can learn to use non-judgmental awareness. However, understand that this will take time and practice in order to achieve it. You will need to learn how to become more aware of when your judgmental thoughts are occurring and then practice to bring your attention back to just the simple facts.