Non-judgmental stance is the last of the “what” skills in the Mindfulness Module of DBT.
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We are so used to placing judgments on our observations and with others. The point of taking a non-judgmental stance is to give yourself an opportunity to view the same things but being open to thinking about it in a different way.
An example of judging an observation as noted on the website goes like this:
Observation= I notice that I am feeling sad.
Observation and Description= I notice that the corners of my mouth are turned down, my jaw muscles are tense, my eyelids seem heavy. I notice that I am tired and feel like I could cry. I notice that there is an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Judgment= Sadness is a bad emotion. When I am sad, I’m bad, worthless. Something is wrong with me because I feel sad.
Nonjudgmental Stance= Sadness is an emotion. It is not good or bad. The fact that I exhibit the symptoms I associate with sadness does not make me a bad person, nor is experiencing the emotion a good or a bad thing. It simply is. Right now, I am experiencing sadness, that’s all. It’s okay to feel sad.
Possible results= When I judge the sadness, I am more likely to react negatively to it by acting out with destructive behavior. When I do not judge the sadness, I am more likely to experience the emotion until it dissipates.
It can be essential to observe your thoughts so that healing becomes possible. It does not mean that we will not encounter situations or people that can trigger emotions such as anger, sadness etc but we can choose how we react about any given situation. A nonjudgemental stance can change a potentially volatile situation into a healing moment where you have the opportunity to learn something more about yourself. I have always been quick to react as a teenager. However I felt, I chose to express it in various ways. It was an unhealthy choice because I was trapped in a prison of emotional pain. As I have matured, I now realize that simply observing and withholding judgment can bring about peace and can help avoid getting caught up in emotionally charged situations. I find that when I am interacting with someone, I tend to repeat what is being said and also describe the actions such as ” I’m noticing that you are raising your voice” “Are you seeing this differently or in another way?” ” How can we figure this out together?” It all sounds good and I do understand that in the heat of the moment, DBT skills aren’t flashing in your mind first (lol) but trust me, it works!
The next time you notice yourself leaning towards a judgment, try not to get caught up in the feelings. Start to pay attention, observe it and let it go. Be aware of any assumptions and work towards pacing yourself with a quick emotional reaction.
There are times when even the most skilled individuals cannot be effective at getting what they want, keeping others liking them, or behaving in ways that they respect. It is all a process but it is possible and it can be done!