Nonjudgmental Thinking Revisited
How often do you label your thoughts as good or bad? MaJhane revisits the art of nonjudgmental thinking. If you are interested in the transcribed version of this episode, click here. If you want to stay updated, be sure to check out this page!
What is “Nonjudgmental Thinking”?
If you are new here, you probably aren’t familiar with the term “nonjudgemental thinking.” This concept was introduced in Episode 44 of the podcast while doing a mindfulness and self-esteem 7-week challenge. To begin, Nonjudgmental thinking is when you don’t attach “good” or “bad” to a single thought. We have so many thoughts that go through our heads, and while most of them are background noise, we have the thoughts that help influence what we do. Adding a positive or negative connotation to a thought puts the power in the wrong place. When we actively practice mindfulness, it’s not about what good or bad thing comes to mind. It’s about experiencing the moment for what it is.
This week we are going to be looking at nonjudgemental thinking through a different lens. We will be directing our attention to how we categorize events that happen in our lives as “good” or “bad.” To clarify, the goal is to stop placing those traits on events and start taking them in for what they are. In my mind, they are all lessons to learn from.
Maybe (Taoist Story)
For starters, I wanted to begin this blog post with the story that sparked this revisit in the first place. This short story teaches an important life lesson about labeling events as good or bad based on our perceptions.
There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.
“Maybe,” the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.
“Maybe,” replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Maybe,” answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Maybe,” said the farmer.
After reading that short story, what did you learn? I hope one thing that caught your eye is that nothing is set in stone. When we place these limitations on our circumstances, we end up shooting ourselves in the foot. After all, how can we know what the full outcome will be if we haven’t lived it yet? Don’t limit your expectations based on fear of the unknown.
When I read short stories like this, I typically enjoy the mini-lesson and carry on, but something about this story really resonated with me. Likely my ability to overthink has created more problems than necessary in my life. Because of this, I had moments where things worked out better than I expected because I already labeled it bad. For example, when I was in high school I was a part of the Freshman Basketball team. I was not good, but as the season progressed I guess I got a little bit better. I got good enough to the point where at the end of the season when we had our end-of-the-year banquet I won the award for most improved. That confidence boosted me to try out for JV the following year. So my sophomore year rolls around I go to tryouts for JV and I also try out for ASB which is associated student body. Finally, the day comes where I find out if I make the basketball team or not. Unfortunately, I did not make the team but thankfully on the same day I got the news that I did get into ASB which was more my speed.
Looking back it was funny because I got hit with seemingly bad news at first that turned out to be the better route for me. When I got the yes from ASB I really didn’t expect it to shape my high school experience the way that it did but it ended up being one of the best choices I ever made in my life to go out and try out for it.
Spend less of your time trying to decipher the situations that get thrown your way. Instead, take them for what they are and enjoy the ride. You’d be surprised at the outcome once you give the situation time to breathe. Conversely, we seem to be in really dark times right now, so it’s completely understandable to label a situation as good or bad. Whichever happens, try to remind yourself that when one door closes, a window opens. The scales will balance out, and you will most likely grow from said situation. It won’t be easy, but it will be. So let it be.
This week’s challenge is to practice nonjudgmental thinking with different situations that pop up in your life. This will not be easy, and it’s not something I expect you to master in a week. All I ask at the very least is that you start with acknowledgment. If you need some tools to actively practice nonjudgmental thinking check out episode 44!
If you find this information helpful, be sure to check out my other posts! Until we meet again, please be kind to one another, and from the bottom of my heart, I love you.