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.

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