One of the main ways that we increase our suffering and create stress is through judging. Our brains tend to naturally judge, judge, judge. You know, “She’s a witch,” “He’s an idiot,” “This job is ridiculous,” and “This place is horrible.”  Think of the emotions those statements bring up or make stronger. Saying, “He’s an idiot,” is not likely to help you calm yourself.

Judgments are often shorthand ways of saying things. “He’s an idiot,” doesn’t really tell you much. Do you mean that he makes decisions that don’t make any sense to you? Do you mean that he hurt your feelings?  Do you mean he made a decision that made your life more difficult?  When you are more clear about what you mean, you not only don’t fire yourself up more, but you also give yourself more information about what alternatives you have to cope or deal with the situation.  For example, if he made a decision that made your life more difficult, what can you do? You could talk with him or problem-solve. Maybe you would have to use radical acceptance because you can’t solve the problem. But you would not be stuck in being upset and miserable.

Observe yourself. How often do you respond to situations that you don’t like by judging the people involved?  How does that help or hurt your ability to manage your emotions?

Live a skill-full life. By Karyn Hall, Ph.D., May 26, 2020

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