Column: Mastering ‘non-judgemental mindfulness’

Mindfulness can be paired with another calming tool called taking a non-judgmental stance.

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy makes use of a variety of skills.

Mindfulness is a skill that has been practiced for centuries by many religions and cultures. It has experienced a recent resurgence lately, which is an understandable reaction to our hectic and over-stimulated senses. Mindfulness is using the mind as a microscope, and narrowing thoughts and conscious awareness to just one thing that is happening instead of the many things we usually attend to.

Mindfulness can be paired with another calming tool called taking a “non-judgmental stance.” This is a good choice when faced with a situation that could make a person feel overwhelmed with emotion. Try to imagine that a situation is happening on a video, and notice what is happening. Our emotions get involved when we assign meaning or a label to an action.

For example, if someone cuts in front of me in a car, honks the horn, and speeds up, I could judge that as a sign that the other person is angry and feel scared/angry/defensive in response. In reality, the fact of the situation is that a person driving a car near me changed lanes, honked, and sped up. Perhaps the driver was frustrated at having to drive the speed limit, or maybe a wasp flew into the car and the driver was panicking. A non-judgmental response is not the same as having no opinion – it’s just holding off on interpreting a situation until our first wave of emotion passes. Of course, if someone lunges at you with a knife, please don’t practice a non-judgmental stance. This would be a good time to allow emotion to inspire you to run away!

One opportunity to use both mindfulness and a non-judgmental stance together is during an emotionally challenging encounter. Think of someone you have argued with.  Mindfulness may be focusing on the sound of the other person’s voice. As feelings and reactions rise up, just notice them and then allow them to pass by. Instead of thinking, “How dare that person!” take a deep breath and try to notice what is happening without assigning any judgment to the situation.

For example, when your partner says, “You forgot to take out the garbage,” you can understand the statement/implied request but resist from thinking, “You’re an annoying jerk for complaining and insinuating I don’t pull my weight around here.” It takes practice, but the subtext we give other people’s words – and the assumptions we make about what they mean – contribute a lot to an argument. We don’t always respond in the best manner when we feel hurt, angry or upset, so the skill of non-judgment can be an effective way to keep a conflict from escalating. At first, it seems unnatural and robotic to keep a non-judgmental stance during an emotional conflict, but it becomes easier and more natural with practice. Start small, and try combining mindfulness with a non-judgmental stance during a situation today.

 

Marie Amos, MA, is a Mental Health Clinician with Child and Youth Mental Health, Chilliwack.

Just Posted

Chilliwack-Hope incumbent Conservative sums up Andrew Scheer’s election promises so far

Strahl says his party’s tax credit promises designed to put more money in the pockets of Canadians

Rainbow crosswalk plan gets council support in Hope

Council writing letter of support to community group for crosswalk project

Task force on inclusion, diversity and accessibility coming for Chilliwack

Idea for rainbow crosswalk nixed but council listened to feedback and will appoint task force

Rainbow crosswalk coming to Chilliwack school district parking lot

Fractious debate at school board meeting ends with 4-3 vote

Hard rock tribute band Led Zepagain returns to Chilliwack Cultural Centre

‘It’s as close as you’ll ever get to the real deal,’ says Led Zeppelin founder Jimmy Page

Chilliwack woman wins right to medically assisted death after three-year court battle

Julia Lamb has been the lead plaintiff in a legal battle to ease restrictions on Canada’s assisted dying laws

NDP, Liberals promise more spending, while Tories promise spending cuts

Making life more affordable for Canadians a focus in the 2019 election

UPDATE: Police probe third threat against a Kamloops high school in eight days

Police have not released any further details into what the threat includes

B.C. Interior caribou protection area big enough, minister says

Proposals sparked protest in Kootenays, Williams Lake region

Two B.C. women selected to compete on ABC’s The Bachelor

Mykenna Dorn and Alexis Thind will compete for bachelor Peter Weber’s heart

Charges dropped against Mountie involved in shooting death of Surrey man

‘I feel like I’ve lost Hudson all over again,’ says mom

Break out the tiki torches: Open fires allowed again in B.C.’s coastal region

All open fires allowed effective at noon on Sept. 18

Vaping-related illness confirmed in Ontario believed to be first in Canada

Middlesex-London Health Unit had no further details about the case — believed to be the first confirmed in Canada

Canadian stars Virtue, Moir say in video they’re ‘stepping away’ from ice dancing

The pair thank fans for their support in an emotional message

Most Read