You might have noticed how meditation teachers like me always talk about having a non-judgmental attitude. Being non-judgmental is one of the fundamental aspects of mindfulness (consciously living in the moment). But’s it’s not always easy to achieve.
Modern society has predisposed us to have judgmental attitudes, labelling people by their status in society, their job, their body type, and their personality. Not only is this harmful for the person whom is being judged, it is also harmful for the person doing the judging.
Judgmental VS Non-Judgmental Attitudes
A non-judgmental attitude is an attitude of acceptance and understanding that extends both to ourselves and to other people. You can tell if someone has a non-judgmental attitude because you will feel comfortable discussing your weaker points with them.
A judgmental attitude, on the other hand, is marked by labelling people and a preoccupation with ideas of what is good and bad. You’ll find that you feel uncomfortable discussing things with judgmental people because you don’t want to be labelled.
What Causes Judgmental Attitude
There are several causes of judgmental attitudes. Psych Central lists the following four primary causes of judgmentalism.
Low self-esteem: People who feel lowly about themselves often judge other people as a way to compensate for inadequacies that they feel in their own lives.
Jealousy: People who are jealous of others are likely to label them. For instance, if someone is jealous of a person’s career, they may judge them for being a cheater or for succeeding via immoral means. Jealous people do this as a way of reconciling the difference they perceives between themselves and others
Self-righteousness: People who believe they are perfect may judge other people as being lesser than them. This is primarily a problem of ego and the self-imposed sense of superiority.
Bias: Many people judge from personal biases, which could include racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination.
Problems With Being Judgmental
Being judgmental is a problem for both the individual and people around them. Those who are being judged may feel put-down and could potentially develop self-esteem issues if they are continually surrounded by judgmental people (such as judgmental parents).
For the person doing the judging, their attitude can cause numerous mental health problems. MentalHealth.net states that, “your judgments about your life and the people in it has a significant impact on the amount of anxiety and depression you experience”.
Benefits of a Non-Judgmental Attitude
There are benefits of a non-judgmental attitude for both the individual themselves and the people in their lives. To start with, being open and not judging people naturally improves social connection. People feel more comfortable approaching you and discussing things with you, meaning you are more likely to enjoy positive relationships.
More than this, however, a non-judgmental attitude is beneficial for mental health. Studies show that people with non-judgmental attitudes are less likely to experience negative states of mind, including stress and anxiety, and more likely to be happy.
So now it’s clear why you need one, how can you have a non-judgmental attitude?
How To Have A Non-Judgmental Attitude
1: Perceive, don’t think
There’s a technique used in art where we draw what we see rather than what we think we see. This technique is all about mindfully observing what is actually in front of us, and it extends to life in general.
Try to see things for what they are, beyond your interpretations of them. Don’t consider things good or bad, right or wrong, simply perceive them for what they are.
2: Thoughts are just thoughts
When we judge people, we think negatively about them, and we tend to believe those thoughts are true. When we do this, we place too much emphasis on our thoughts. Always remember that your thoughts are just thoughts, nothing more. Don’t allow your thoughts to distort your view of reality.
3: Consider people’s backgrounds and life experience
It can be all too easy for us to judge other people without considering their background or life experience. If we hear that someone is out of work, we might consider them lazy, without even considering why they’re not working. They could have a health problem or another legitimate reason not to work. Always consider the possible reasons why people are the way they are, instead of just judging them.
4: Practice mindfulness
A non-judgmental attitude is the very heart of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the practice of focusing the mind on the present moment without judgment. It’s about seeing and accepting things for what they are, rather than labelling them or reacting to them.
One of the best ways to develop a non-judgmental attitude is to practice mindfulness exercises.
5: Use your senses
The key to being non-judgmental is to see things for what they are, and the key to seeing things for what they are is to use your senses. Instead of interpreting everything through your thoughts, focus on the sensory information. See things, smell things, feel things… sensory information is our closest representation of actual reality, so by focusing on senses rather than on thoughts, you will train your mind to see things for what they are.
There are many benefits of a non-judgmental attitude, as we have seen above. It helps both the individual and the people around them. By practicing the exercises we have looked at above, you can develop a non-judgmental attitude which will help both you yourself and the people in your life.