Thursday, January 26, 2012

The “How’s” Of Mindfulness: Non-Judgmentally

Yesterday I talked about the “What” Skills of Mindfulness, so today let’s talk about the “How” Skills.
The “What’s” are the things you want to do in order to cultivate mindfulness. The “How’s” are the way you want to look at things, the attitudes and route you want to take. They are:
I was originally going to do all of these in one post, but there’s just too much so we’ll break this down into a nice little series.
Non-Judgmentally – In order to increase your mindfulness you must raise your awareness of what you feel and think. See your thoughts and emotions, but do not evaluate them. Do not place judgments on them. Thoughts and emotions are not “Good” or “Bad”, they are not things you “Should” or “Should not” feel or think. Accept the thought or emotion as it is; just a thought, just a feeling. You want to learn how to see things from a non-polarized perspective. People, especially those of us with Borderline Personality Disorder, have a distorted way of thinking and perceiving things. Often this is natural. As humans we label, magnify, polarize, filter, and discount certain things without giving them a second thought. We make assumptions about things in reality which close our mind to seeing what the facts actually are. Some examples of distorted thinking:
All-or-Nothing ThinkingSplitting. We know what this is like. It polarizes your viewpoint into an extreme. Good and bad, right and wrong, black and white, should or should not, etc. This kind of thinking is what contributes to idealization and devaluation. This creates so many problems, the foundation of which is; the world simply does not work this way. Things are rarely black and white, but filled in with shades of grey, and red, and yellow, and green, and blue! In the heat of emotional conflict we often feel that there is only one way to look at a person or a situation. We need to remember that there is always another perspective, another way we can look at a story, another view point to consider. When we are able to do this, we provide ourselves with the opportunity to find alternative solutions.
Labeling – Good, Bad, Scary, Disgusting, Right, Wrong, etc…. these things are judgments and opinions. Is a spider bad? It might startle you, but it’s probably not plotting against you. It’s just an arachnid trying to go about its little life. Labeling is like a quick fire evaluation. Once you evaluate and define something, the mind holds onto that label. This inhibits the ability to look past a split second judgment and find what else lies beyond the label.
Mental Filtering – This is when your mind automatically screens opinions that don’t fit in with your current belief. Think, selective hearing, where you only hear things you want to hear but ultimately you miss out on part of the story.
Over-generalization – This is common. When something occurs in a single instance, or a handful of instances, and you apply it across the board in all scenerios. Instead of looking at each case as an individual instance, you make a blanket judgment. Statements like “Always” and “Never” often accompany these thought process. “We always do things your way”, “We never do what I want to do”, “You never think about me”, etc.
Jumping to Conclusions or Mind Reading – Often this is a problem with being hypersensitive. Someone with BPD can be very aware of peoples tone of voice and expressions, so it’s natural to assume how they are feeling and try to interpret what they are thinking. The problem is, unless you ask that person, you can’t actually know what they’re thinking.
Magnification – This is exaggeration to the extreme. This creates mountains out of mole hills. This is often the distortion that occurs when we are in a very emotionally intense place, can’t see past the pain of our emotion, and it feels like the world is going to come crashing down around us. But unless we’ve jumped 4 Billion years into the future and the sun is going supernova, than odds are the world isn’t actually coming to an end. Intense thoughts create intense feelings. Being able to focus on just the facts of a situation, and not judging the emotional content of them, will allow you to see what is happening as it actually is.
Discounting the Positive – I’m really bad about this one. This distortion rejects affirmations, positives, and compliments as if they don’t count. You fear people are lying to you in order to manipulate you so you discount anything good that could actually be happening or said. Instead, just say thank you.

When you are ruled by your emotional mind, feelings become distorted and facts are lost. When you no longer have a clear picture of what is happening in the world around you, or even inside of you, of course you’re going to be overwhelmed and frantic. The trick is to regain a factual perspective on what is actually occurring. Don’t allow your mind to run away with you and create monsters under the bed where there are only shadows.      


  1. I think you cut yourself off. "The trick is to regain a factual"...?

    Another great post. Making me think a lot. I really do want to have that cry. I think I need it. Release. Especially since I have no idea when I will see my friend again for the more fun kind of release :/

    1. Hah. Thanks! I usually read, and reread my posts compulsively after I've posted them but not today apparently! That'll show me.

      My go to crying movie is Dead Poet Society. I haven't watched it in forever. Which is fortunate because I only have it on VHS and my combo DVD/VHS player just konked out on me. Do you have anything like that? The movie, not the combo player.

    2. Lol the movie not the combo player ;) a few. Thats a good one. When I was younger, Beaches. So trite. Lol. I need one now. I usually watch horror or scifi or fantasy or action. Tend to avoid the dramarama.

      I dont need the cry after all, though. Mr Aloof was Mr Loving today and stopped by with a goody bag and we shagged on the couch. We're meeting up later at the bar. Ive gotten good at ebbing and flowing with him. As long as I give him time to process shit, I give myself time to be processing as well. I finally feel almost like I have a grown up relationship. Shit. See Im riding all high on oxytocin so Im all optimistic. Meh. God its nice to read your blog its so comforting that there are people out there who empathize with this shit.

      Oh I know! Serenity! When Wash dies! Oh heres a true confession. ET. When he dies. I know hes not dead yet I bawl like an infant. Or I used to. Idk if I can now.

      Ps Ive got a boy who I used to fuck texting me like crazy trying to break off a piece. I think my friend could smell it on me, because he was pretty hot today. Isnt it peculiar?

  2. Wow, you really make me think. Thinking hurts, but the post is awesome!

  3. You really hit the nail on the head with this one... I completely empathize, as I am guilty of all of these examples, some to a lesser degree than others. My big problem is thinking in black and white- I have a hard time finding a gray area. Thanks for your thought-provoking post!

    1. I'm definitely guilty of all of these at times. It's funny with me. I can understand that the gray areas are there, but things still feel black and white. It's an odd dissonance.


Leave me a comment! It makes me feel good and less paranoid about talking to myself =)

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