It’s time to dismantle the judgment machine.
When we’re working on cutting out compulsions, we always come up against this fabulously well-developed judgment machinery in our brains. So skilled at sticking labels on the world, so efficient at sticking everything in tiny boxes, giving us so much fuel to trigger thoughts and emotions that send us off checking and controlling.
Time: Approximately 30 minutes per day for 4 days.
Materials: Just you and that atomic label-maker in your skull.
How does this work?!
Non-judgment can be a strange concept to wrap your head around after decades of practicing judgment. Here are some frequently asked questions:
What is non-judgment?
It’s a skill, just like judgment. If it doesn’t make sense to you right now, that’s ok. It’s only natural for us to not have or understand a skill we’ve never practiced.
Judgment is about labeling, attaching meaning, and shoving the world into tiny, narrow boxes.
Non-judgment is about making space for experiences, inside and outside of us. It’s about making space for emotions and other experiences in our heads. It’s about seeing the world around us as it is instead of seeing it through the muddy lenses of our assumptions and fears.
How is non-judgment connected to mental health & fitness?
Judgment is the first compulsion. We often identify later compulsions as problematic, but it all begins with judging an experience.
When a friend takes too long to respond to a message and then says something you don’t like, so you judge that as meaning they’re going to abandon you, so you then push them away or try to hurt them in before they can hurt you, we might see that distancing as the compulsion. But it began with the judgment.
When we have a strange feeling inside of us each time we walk by a window, and we judge that feeling as meaning somebody is watching us and we need to control that, so we cover the window or avoid going outside, we might see the covering and avoidance as the compulsion. But it began with judging that feeling as meaning we were being watched.
Practicing non-judgment helps us get ahead of the things we do that push us into compulsions.
Does this mean I have to pretend that everything is good?
This is a common misunderstanding. It might be that we spend so much energy judging everything as terrible that we’ve come to think of the opposite as judging things as good. But that’s not what non-judgment is about.
Non-judgment is about how you spend your time and energy in life. Terrible things will remain terrible. Do you need to spend time and energy hating on them and making yourself miserable? If there’s a painful experience popping up in my head, do I want to leave the present so I can devote myself to that experience and trying to control it?
Judgment and non-judgment aren’t about actions we choose to practice. This is not about things being good or bad. This is about how you want to live.
But what if my judgments are just very automatic and I have no control over them?
I hope they’re very automatic. After years of practicing, it’d be kind of embarrassing if you weren’t a pro at judging things (not that I would judge you for that).
At first, developing non-judgment skills will be like learning a new sport. You were a professional at judging. The best in the world. So your brain judges on reflex. But now you’re going to learn a new sport. It’s like switching from pro volleyball to pro soccer. You’ll probably try to smack the ball with your hands a few times.
It takes practice to learn new tricks. That’s what this workout plan is for!
Have more questions about non-judgment? That is wonderful. Send them on over: