What happens when you see your patient through a broader, non-judgmental lens?
In the book, Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabat-Zinn discusses the Attitudinal Foundations of Mindfulness. Today I will focus on the concept of Non-Judging.
What happens in the first few moments when we meet someone for the first time? Instantly, we have judged them on many levels, including whether we like them or not. If you pay close attention, you may notice that we go through our entire day judging ourselves, our experiences, and our environment.
What’s the problem with this?
The issue is that when we judge an experience (e.g., I like this, I dislike this) we limit our perspective and we become trapped in our habitual ways of reacting to situations. We also tend to want more of the “good” and less of the “bad” and when we can’t make this happen, we feel frustrated or stressed.
Moving towards openness and curiosity
An important foundation of mindfulness practice is to notice our judgments and see if we can approach situations with openness and curiosity. Let’s say there are aspects of your job that you find challenging. What happens as soon as you say to yourself, “I hate this. I don’t want to do this.” You may notice tension and constriction in the body. You may notice an entire stream of negative thoughts and stories that follow. You may also notice resistance. And yet, at this particular moment, you still have to do this aspect of your job.
Alternatively, imagine the same scenario where you are confronted with an aspect of your job that you find challenging. What would happen if instead of getting caught up in the judgments, you began to notice the judgments and just observe them as they arise? Notice the tightness in the body, notice the thoughts and even label them as “judgments.”
You may begin to notice an openness and acceptance, even in situations that are challenging. This openness may allow you to see things in a new way.
Bringing acceptance to daily life
During the day see if you can become aware of your judgments (I like this, I don’t like this, this is good, this is bad). Label them as “judgments” when you catch them. Then, see if you can describe what you are experiencing using adjectives instead of judgments. What do you notice by relating to some of your experiences in this way?
Bringing acceptance to patient care
The next time you see a patient notice your judgments about that patient. Label them as “judgments” when you catch them. Then, see if you can describe what you are seeing using adjectives instead of judgments. What happens when you see your patient through this broader, non-judgmental lens?