THE 'HOW' SKILLS
And now we're going to do the 'how' skills. And the how skills have everything to do with how do you observe, how do you describe, and how do you participate. And there are three 'how' skills: non-judgmentally, one mindfully, and effectively.
The How Skills: Non-judgmentally
What are you doing when you are judging something? Judging is adding something to what you observe. It's when you observe a fact and then you add an evaluation. And the evaluation that you're adding, in one way or the other, is good or bad. That's the bottom line. That's really all it is. It's actually pretty easy idea and it's a really hard one to get.
Let's talk about the difference between observing and describing, and observing and judging. So we'll take lying. What's lying? Lying is when a person says something that's not true. On purpose. Ok. Saying something not true. On purpose.
'So, Mary said something not true on purpose and she's bad. Ah, what a liar!' 'Mary said something not true on purpose and well, it had a lot of consequences. People don't trust her anymore. Some people who believed her made decisions that turned out to really hurt them. Lying had painful consequences.'
Now, notice. In one, I was saying lying is bad so that's 'lying' that's an observation; 'bad' that's a judgment. And the other, I said 'lying' that's an observation. And then what did I do? Instead of judging, I described the consequences.
Judging actually is a shorthand way to state consequences. And if the consequences are negative, painful, destructive, disliked, we call it 'bad'. If the consequences are positive, lead to enhanced welfare, improve the happiness of one and all, we call it 'good'.
So judging is a shorthand. Therefore judging is really needed some of the time. Sometimes we need a shorthand. When do you need a shorthand? Well, I'm a teacher. I give a shorthand by giving A, B, C, or D. A is better than B. B is better than C. C is better than D. I get paid to judge.
If you go to the fish market, and you go to buy fish, and you pick it up and you say 'Is this still good?' And the dealer smells it and say's 'No, it's not good.' What's he doing? He's evaluating it, but what's he evaluating? Actually it's a shorthand for 'No, this has germs; this is old; this could make you sick; this is not safe.' All of which are consequences. However, my guess is you'd just as soon not have the fish guy say all that stuff. You'd just like him to say 'No, it's bad. Don't buy it.'
Have you ever noticed that lots of times we just forget that judging's shorthand? Have you noticed that? We go around making statements about people who are either good or they're bad; they're stupid or they're smart; or they're this or they're that. And we forget that it's a shorthand, we start thinking those are real qualities of the person. We start acting like... we start forgetting that we're describing the consequences of their behaviour and act like we're describing characteristics of the person. 'That person is good.' 'That person is bad.'
A lot of us judge ourselves. And a lot of us judge others. And some of us do both. Which are you? Do you mostly judge yourself; mostly judge others? Or are you an equal opportunity player; you do both?
There are 2 problems with judging. The first one is that when you're judging something, if you forget that you're doing a shorthand, you don't react to what other people are doing or what you're doing. You start reacting to your own thoughts about what they're doing. It's kind of like you think you're reacting to what someone else is doing and you're really reacting to your own judgments. Have you ever noticed how people do that? I'll bet people do that to you. And my guess is that you do it to other people some of the time.
So that's the first problem - you're just inaccurate. You're responding to things that might not even be happening.
And the second problem is, is judgments cause unending problem emotions. Have you ever noticed that? It's really hard to be angry at someone without judging them. It's hard to be angry at yourself without judging yourself. It's almost impossible to get rid of shame if you don't reduce the amount of judgments that you make about yourself.
So, there are two reasons. Reason one, it's hard to react to the real world as it really is when you are reacting to judgments. It's a little bit like reacting to interpretations instead of the facts. And second, it causes no end of emotional pain. It's hard to reduce negative emotions without reducing judgments. Ok, got it?
Well, now the question is... the 64 thousand dollar question is how in the world are you going to change judgments? This can be extremely difficult. That's the bad news. The fabulous news, you can do it. I cannot even begin to tell you how many people I've worked with who are really judgmental - judge, judge, judge, judge, judge - that have gotten it to go down. It can take some time, but there are a lot of things that are going to take you more time than this.
So I'm going to go through the steps. If you really want to get your judgments down, and you follow these steps, this will work.
Well the first step is you have to decide what is actually important to you to reduce your judging. It's going to be hard to do this if you don't want to. So it's probably not going to work if you're stopping judging because someone else told you to do it. Someone else wants you to do it or other people are being critical of you. So you need to sit back and just say to yourself 'Do I or don't I? What do I have to gain?' Now I'm going to assume for the moment that you have a lot to gain by being less judgmental.
The next step is to start paying attention to your own judgments. What you want to do is observe, notice, and then describe. By describe, I mean just label. You want to notice judgmental thoughts, judgmental actions, judgmental tones of voice.
Judgments can be hard to recognize. Listen to this: 'Well, I went into this room, had yellow walls and a green carpet.' Ok. Now listen to this: "Well! I went into this room and it had yellow walls and a green carpet!' Ok. See the difference? You notice that in the second one, didn't that sound judgmental? What do you think? Do you think I like the yellow walls with the green carpet? No. In the first one, no judgment, it's a description. Second one, judgment.
So you've got to watch. You've got to watch for your voice tone and the content because the '...went in this room it had yellow walls!' is the same thing as saying 'I went in this room, it had yellow walls. And uck, uck, uck, they were terrible. Who's that decorator?' Alright.
So the first thing you do is notice. Now what you want to do the first time is you want to notice them and you want to count them. Especially if you judge a lot. You want to count them and you want to count them each day. So how would you do that? Well, it kind of depends on whether you judge a lot or you don't judge a lot.
But if you're a person who judges a lot, and a lot of people are, then you're going to have to find a way to remember how many judgments you've made during the day. What I tell the people I work with to do is to go and buy a counter. You can go to any sporting goods store and buy a counter. And you put that on your belt or you put it in your pocket or you carry it with you someway. And then, all day long, every time you judge or you find yourself being judgmental, you just click it. At the end of the day, you look at the number, write it down and you've got it for the day.
It'll be interesting to see how many you have. I've had people who thought they had loads of judgments when they had seven or eight. And, I've had people who've had over a hundred a day. I had one person, she had so many she couldn't count them. So she used to just count for an hour out of the day. She said she was judging all day long. So, that's step one: count.
Now what you want to do is write it down every night. So take a week out of your life and say 'I'm going to watch my judgments every day for a week.' It's very interesting. If you want a behaviour to go down, you want to do something less, and you start counting it, just the very fact that you're counting it almost always makes it go down. It's really interesting but that's just the way it works.
Now I have to tell you one more really important thing. If you've decided that you want to stop judging, or at least reduce it, then you start noticing when you're judging, you're going to want to remember: don't judge the judging.
If you judge your judging, you'll have to click that counter again. You don't want to do that. That would double your number of judgments in the day. So, don't judge your judging.
Simply take a judgment and replace it with a consequence. That's the best way to reframe it. And know the difference between a judgment and a fact.
And not decide that everything that is negative is a judgment. Lots of times we think people are judging us if they say 'I don't like your lipstick' or 'I don't like your hair' Your mother may say 'I wish you'd wear skirts.' You think she's judging you. She may be of course, but it's possible she just wishes that.
Now some people think that the best way to reframe a judgment is just to turn a negative into a positive. You're not bad, you're good. We often think that when we're thinking about ourselves. I'm bad, so I say, 'Oh, I should have affirming beliefs, positive self views. So I'll change the negative to the positive.'
Now I've got to tell you that's very dangerous. The reason it's dangerous? If you can be positive then you can be negative. The trick? Skip both. Simply say 'I am. Neither good nor bad.' That's the whole idea of being nonjudgmental is to develop the capacity and the habit of seeing the world as it is, describing it as it is, and honestly stating your values. Having values is not being judgmental.