We often speak of practicing mindfulness in our daily lives – while eating, speaking with loved ones, taking a walk, during self-time, and simply going about our days. Mindfulness helps us avoid living in anxiety about the future or experiencing depression about the past. Yet oftentimes, we live in the moment yet forget to leave our judgments behind and so we create a stressful present instead.
A key to mindfulness is leaving judgments about right, wrong, good and bad behind. We assign these labels to everything and everyone we come across in order to better understand and categorize our world, yet it serves no essential function except to possibly harm our mental health.
Labeling our lives with opinions prevents us from working out the complexities of each issue and using thoughtful analysis as a starting point to improve our relationships or situations. Judgments are a form of verbal abuse that emotionally harms us. Judging others also prevents us from having complete and healthy emotional relationships.
For one day, try to leave opinions behind you and experience how freeing this can feel. Don’t pass judgments on the appearance or personalities of the people you meet. Note when you are judging yourself, others or the situation. Be aware of your judgments. Avoid words like ‘good’ ‘bad’ ‘idiot’ ‘jerk’ ‘wonderful’ ‘perfect’ ‘awful’ and so on. Observe these thoughts and emotions, and find other words to describe your situations such as ‘helpful’ ‘unhealthy’ ‘appropriate’ – words that describe the issue without assigning a positive or negative opinion.
Practicing non-judgment allows us to be neutral and analyze our situations rather than be driven by emotionally-charged opinions. This in turn allows us to be assertive and express ourselves appropriately. Remember that you will make mistakes and that non-judgment is a skill that requires practice. Don’t judge yourself if you fail. Just keep trying and you will find that harmful emotions toward yourself and others are replaced with the peace and inner calm that accompanies mindfulness.