One of the ways to reduce the judgmental nature of your mind is to repeatedly try to form an intention in your mind to forgive yourself and be kind and accepting of yourself when you find yourself judging.
What to Keep In Mind, When Working with the Mind
Before we try to further discuss the answer to this question, it can be helpful to recall that the human mind doesn’t work in a deterministic fashion. There are no guarantees that you will be able to prevent it from judging. It is often said that the mind has a mind of its own. Or the mind has a life of its own.
It is often said that the mind has a mind of its own. Or the mind has a life of its own.
At the same time, it is possible to influence and change the mind up to a great extent. The mind is malleable. It is definitely worth trying to change the way it usually works.
The means or tools that you employ in dealing or training the mind are not going to be always simple and easy. Normally training the mind is a slow and a long-drawn-out process.
The Default Nature of the Mind
To judge is the basic nature of the mind. It is a highly conditioned habit of your mind and hence it is a very strong habit.
In some form, judging is an evolutionary adaptation. Instinctively judging the experience that can be harmful or that jeopardizes your well-being helps in forming a strong memory for such experiences and avoid them in the future.
You might argue, then why stop judging? Well, it is not so simple.
The judging nature tends to proliferate and gets activated even when it may not be serving any useful purpose.
Instantaneous judgments can save your life when walking along a trail, you flinch at something that looks like a snake.
But when you meet a person for the very first time, forming an instantaneous judgment like ‘a pretty girl’ or ‘an ugly guy’ probably solely based on how they look is not a helpful judgment.
Flinching at something that looks like a snake or forming a quick label for a new person are not completely independent activities. The underlying mechanism is the same.
You experience a stimulus through either external senses, internal senses or mental states like thoughts, urges, and emotions. And your mind has an immediate reaction in the form of a category, a label or a judgment for that experience.
Steps to Prevent Yourself from Judging Your Thoughts
Dealing with mind’s judging nature is a three step process.
- Forming an intention to minimize the judging of your mind in a kind and gentle way.
- Bring awareness to the judging nature of the mind.
- Forming an intention, at least, not to judge the judgments.
Step 1: Forming the Intention to Minimize Judging
It all starts with an intention.
“Intention is the action.”
It is wise to know that you do not control the outcome in many of the circumstances. What you have in your hands is your intention.
Forming an intention to not be judgmental is the first step. The language that your mind understand well is the language of love, kindness, and gentleness.
If you had to choose between following either a cold, strict order or a warm gentle request, which one are you more likely to select?
It is skillful and extremely helpful, having the intention to be kinder, gentle and flexible along the way.
Before you even form an intention, you may want to contemplate why you want to prevent your mind from judging the thoughts. It could simply be that such judging feels painful to you and you want to minimize that pain.
Or it could be just an intuition. Whatever it is, generally it is a good idea to contemplate the ‘why’ of any action, goal or journey.
In this step, you form an intention to minimize judging.
Step 2: Expanding Awareness
The second step is cultivating or expanding awareness. When it comes to training the mind, the awareness is the key.
Because normally much of you mind’s activity happens outside of awareness. Many of your thoughts, urges, emotional states and mental reactions happen subconsciously.
By becoming more aware, you get to see the full size of the cloth. And initially, this could be destabilizing.
If you come to realize how much of judging that goes on in your mind, not that it is uncommon, it may hurt you even more.
Ignorance can be blissful at times. But ignorance is not a good coping strategy in the long run, although at times it could be helpful.
Although potentially more painful, there is value in being aware more of the time. Awareness is just aware and it doesn’t do anything else.
It lets you see the workings of your mind. It lets you see the reactions, thoughts, and emotions, including the ones that are judging in nature. Without awareness, you may not notice them.
You want to be able to reduce or stop judging. Unless you begin to notice when actual judging happens, you cannot stop it.
There is one more benefit to becoming aware. It helps with dis-identification.
It means, with awareness, rather than fully identifying with your thoughts, emotions, and urges, you can observe them from a distance. It works like sunlight to the fog. It tends to take the charge away from a mental reaction.
You look at a stranger’s hairstyle and in your mind goes “weird hairstyle”. If you are not aware, you are fully identified with this judgment. You really think the person has a weird hairstyle indeed.
But the moment you bring awareness to this situation, you can notice that it is just your mind’s reaction. It judged the hairstyle to be ‘weird’.
With awareness, you are not fully identified with that judgment. You realize that a hairstyle is just a hairstyle. And ‘weird’ is a label your mind came up with.
Now you can be an observer. Previously you may have thought, “that guy has a weird hairstyle” in a matter of the fact way.
Now you realize your mind judged that hairstyle with a label “weird”. And that doesn’t make it a fact.
With awareness, you catch your mind judging.
And how do you expand awareness? You do that through formal and informal meditation practices.
Step 3: Trying Not to Judge the Judgments
The third step is as important as earlier two steps in the whole process.
With stronger awareness, now you catch your mind judging. You have already formed an intention to at least minimize such judging.
Out of habit, you may find that your mind may end up judging the judgments. You notice you judged your spouse for saying something and immediately you realized you are not supposed to judge.
Guess what, it comes naturally for your mind to judge and you may find yourself having thoughts such as “I am not supposed to judge, but there I go again.” “Why did I do that again.” “I am never going to be able to stop judging.”
All of those are, judging thoughts. You found yourself judging the judgments.
What do you do? Remember, it is all about being gentle, kind and patient with yourself.
What you do is try to forgive yourself. Try to be gentle with yourself. Try to kind with yourself. All you can do is forming the intention to be gentle and kind.
If you impose upon yourself to be one or the other way, it will not help. Hence, see if you can have an intention to not judge and when you do find yourself judging, see if you can form an intention to forgive, be gentle and move on.
Although you don’t really have to go that far, but even if you were to find yourself, judging the judgment of judging, you still do the same.
This scheme will test your patience. You may find yourself repeatedly judging and your judging may not completely go away.
But this is the best that you can do.
- Form an intention that you want to become less judgmental.
- Form an intention to be gentle and kind along the way, as that is being skillful.
- Also, keep at the back of your mind that judging may not stop right away.
- Try not to judge the judgments.
What is it that you disagree? Tell me here in the comments.