Some Thoughts on Judging | Borderline Personality Disorder

Last week in DBT class, we talked about judging.

According to Dr. Marsha Linehan, the pioneer of DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) for BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder / Emotion Regulation Disorder):

"Judging is when you observe a fact and then add an evaluation of good or bad."

Her recommendation is to "non-judgmentally observe a fact and then describe the consequence."

Examples of Judging vs. Non-Judging

Let's say my co-worker comes into my office, criticizes a recent project I worked on and then walks away.

Reaction 1: "Gabe criticized my work again. He's such a jerk. I'm so mad."  (judgment)

Reaction 2: "Gabe criticized my work again. It makes me really angry when he does that." (non-judgment)

Do you see the difference? In Reaction 1, I stated the facts that Gabe criticized by work and that I was angry, and then I made a judgment -- that he's a jerk. Maybe he is, maybe he isn't, but removing the judgment, which is not part of the facts, eases the intensity of the situation.

In Reaction 2, I stated that Gabe criticized my work and how angry it makes me when he does this. The facts and just the facts.

Why Avoid Judging in The First Place?

When we observe what is happening, without placing judgment on it, we can prevent our emotions from unnecessarily escalating, treat ourselves with more kindness, and find empathy and compassion for others as we take away our assumptions and judgments about why people behave in a certain way.  Our thoughts and judgments are not always correct. When we begin to consider this and allow ourselves to look at things for what they are, new options and perspectives are available to us as we accept each moment as it is.

Walt Whitman: "Be curious, not judgmental."

Judging Ourselves

I have to admit, I am an equal opportunity judge. I find myself judging others, circumstances, and myself.  When we judge ourselves, it doesn't help - especially if we judge ourselves harshly.

Example: "I don't understand this whole DBT section on judgment. I'm such an idiot."
Example 2: "I don't understand this whole DBT section on judgment. I need to ask more questions so I can feel more clear about it."

See the difference? In Example 2, you're just stating the facts without judgment.

Do you notice yourself judging?  Do you judge others or yourself more often, or are you also an equal opportunity judge?

One more thing that Dr. Marsha Linehan recommends: "Don't judge your judging."
In other words, if you catch yourself judging, just notice: "I am judging again." No need to make yourself feel bad by adding any more to it than that.

Desperate for Connection | Borderline Personality Disorder

One of my biggest struggles as a person with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is that I have both a desperate longing to connect with others and a desperate fear of rejection and hurt.

I long to have friends. It isn't very difficult for me to connect with someone and start a friendship. I'm friendly, caring, and empathetic. I like to laugh and always want to help others when I can.

It just seem that, as time goes on, one of several things happens:

  • I become very emotionally dependent on a new friend
  • I get moody or deeply depressed or anxious and withdraw so that I am not "exposed" and vulnerable.
  • I begin to find all sorts of things "wrong" with her and convince myself that I'm better off alone. Of course I'm not, but on some level, I think I push people away once there is a certain closeness.

Deep down, I desperately want to be loved, cared about, and wanted. At the same time, I am desperate to avoid being hurt and rejected. So, even though there may be little to no chance of that happening in a friendship that is going along just fine, I tend to sabotage it in some way, shape or form.

As much I despise this, I also sense that I am not fully ready to release these patterns. This is discouraging, and I'd like to understand myself a little bit more around this. I'd like to know how I can get over the feelings that hold me back from having true, meaningful, long-lasting friendships.

I need to learn to not only seek things from a relationship but how to also give and BE a good matter my mood or the circumstances.

Someone recently told me that you can't be a friend to someone else if you haven't learned to care for and be a friend to yourself.  Perhaps that is my starting point.

BPD & Friendship: My lonely road

I had a difficult phone call today. I was speaking to someone who had been a dear friend to me for several years.  I hadn't spoken to her since August, when I broke her heart by dropping out of her wedding (as her bridesmaid) just weeks before her big day.

I had begun to grow distant from her since she announced that she was engaged.  The most obvious explanation would be that I was jealous. This happens to a lot of women when their friends marry.  But that wasn't it. I'm in a long term relationship in which we both feel comfortable being together without marriage. It was something else.

I've always found it challenging to keep friends and to enjoy true, reciprocated intimacy with another person, in friendship.  It likely goes all the way back to the foundational years, where I spent much of the time in "survival mode," and always hoping that "someone" would come to my rescue. This pattern, like most others that we, as humans, experience, remaining unresolved, came right along with me into adulthood. That's why, when I began to really connect with Maria (not her real name, out of respect for her privacy),  I was careful to monitor that I was not overbearing, so as to push her away. It took a lot to push her away.

Maria was *always* there for me. Whether she was at work, school, or even if she hadn't gotten a wink of sleep...she would take my call, which usually led to an in-person visit. We'd often enjoy a coffee together or talk and linger over a meal.

Maria is in the counseling field, and although she is several years younger than me, I often looked up to her. She was pursuing and achieving her educational and professional goals and was out in the world helping hurting people - including me...which I subconsciously and unintentionally turned into a "problem."

Looking back, I called on Maria whenever I was afraid. If I had an anxiety or panic attack, I called her, and she soothed me. She picked me up, built back up my confidence, and made everything ok. She was my rescuer. My friend.  She was always there for me...and I tended to have one crisis after another, never really giving back to her in a way that she felt honored and loved. She is who I should have learned to be for myself. She did what someone should have done for me when I was a child. Shoulda woulda coulda.

Ultimately, I cried today at the loss of my friend. She, at this time, is not interested in investing the energy she believes it would take to give me a second chance. I'm so thankful for the time she's been in my life. I pray that I can grow for this experience toward having a real friendship. I pray that, if it's meant to be, Maria will let me back in her life and allow me to grow to become the friend I should have always been for her.

I hope that I can truly learn how to BE a friend.


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