The human brain is conditioned to make judgments – it is part of our survival. Friend or foe, fight or flight, safe or unsafe, near or far, hot or cold, fat or thin …
However, when we let this conditioning rule our thoughts in regards to our partner or children, we are merely undermining the relationship, with no beneficial consequences.
Accepting the difference, focusing on the 98% positive, putting our energy into meeting our partner’s needs – are all part of valuing and enjoying what is special about the relationship.
How to Deal with Unhelpful Judgmental Thoughts
There are several techniques that can be used to diffuse such thoughts.
The Name Game
Imagine your mind having a part that is your Judgment Machine. This machine spews out negative thoughts and emotions but with no positive benefits.
After becoming aware of the different things that your Judgment Machine likes to process, give each story a light hearted name. Then when you are again becoming hooked by a thought of feeling you can observe the machine in action. By identifying the thoughts that are connected to that story, you can defuse that story instead of getting trapped in it.
By making the names sound light hearted, you will also feel silly for entertaining such trivial thoughts in the first place … e.g. The Lazy Slob Story, or Messy & Untidy Story, or The Workaholic Story. Now when the Judgment Machine is running, you are ready to catch it in action. The aim is not to stop the judgments, there’s really no way to do that. The aim is to see them for what they are: just a bunch of words that are automatically churned out by your mind.
When your Judgment Machine is in action it is saying things such as “my partner is something, does too much or too little of something, lacks something”, etc, etc.
Firstly think of something about your partner that annoys you and hold that thought in your mind, buying into it as much as possible for 20 seconds.
Now replay it in your head, word for word, but add the phrase “I’m having the thought that …” in front of it.
Notice what happens. You find that you have defused it, because you are now observing yourself having the thought rather than actually having the thought. And then next time you have that thought, you will automatically trigger the Observation State.
For every judgment (story) you have, list 5 positives that that trait or behaviour might reflect in other ways. E.g., for a Messy & Untidy Story, the benefits may be that they are relaxed, creative, fun to be with, great cooks, interesting, musical, etc, etc.
This way, when you find yourself thinking about something negative, immediately kick into Counteraction Mode – again defusing useless destructive thoughts.
This last one is a technique that requires you both to be very secure in who you are. You both write down a negative thought, then facing each other hold them up and discuss them in turn. Get connected, listen and talk, hear their side of how and why, engage, … and defuse. The aim is not to change the other person, but to become more connected.