The Impact Of Judgmental Thinking On Your Anxiety And Depression

We've all been there--confronted by a situation that simply should be different. Someone has clearly done something wrong and the result is terrible. You might think you were foolish to get into this situation and angry that someone made such a ridiculous mistake.

It's not possible to avoid all painful and stressful life events. Some are unavoidable and some are the result of mistakes or lack of forethought. Whatever the cause of your problems, your judgments about your life and the people in it has a significant impact on the amount of anxiety and depression you experience. Words are powerful and thoughts about what "should" be, who is "right" and "wrong" and name calling--whether of yourself or others--can have a significant impact on your emotional well-being.

A recent study in Mindfulness Magazine (July 2010) found that the participants who rated highest on nonjudgmental also had lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress related symptoms. The study examined different facets of mindfulness, including observing, or attending to thoughts, feelings, perceptions, or sensations; describing or labeling; acting with awareness; non-reactivity to inner experience, and non-judging of experience. In the study both acting with awareness and nonjudgmental thinking were the most important facets in predicting psychological well-being. Acting with awareness was particularly relevant to depression.

The results of this preliminary study suggest that learning to accept, rather than judge the thoughts, emotions and sensations that arise on a daily basis can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Maintaining awareness may improve your ability to manage depressive symptoms.

Responding to events, thoughts and feelings non-judgmentally is not always an easy task. Many confuse non-judgmental thinking with trying to view events more positively. Non-judgmental is not about seeing the silver lining in difficult circumstances. Rather, it is about simply acknowledging the circumstances, feelings or sensations without engaging in opinions and evaluation. It is about accepting the reality of a situation and sticking to the facts in both your speech and thoughts.

Some people are actively tied to their judgments. Letting go of your view of "right" and "wrong" to simply accept what is can require an entirely new approach to understanding your world. But if you are depressed, stressed or anxious, it may be a change worth making.

Comments
  • Ashley

    I'm someone who has suffered with an anxiety disorder for about four years now. I have mindfully observed that feelings of anxiety are greatest when I have actively been prejudging future events, moment-by-moment experiences and even past experiences. The anxiety is greatest when I'm (negatively prejudging) my experiences. When I change to non-judgmental awareness of my experiences feelings associated with anxiety just disappear completely.... to a point I can feel completely at peace within. I've noticed others things occurring during high periods of anxiety. My thoughts tend to rouse and this can lead to obsessive worrying. Imagine a flat lake (this is anxiety free mind) than start to swirl the water. This is how thoughts react during my anxiety attacks. They become disruptive and discursive with greater power (like a whirlwind in the mind) and this leads to a greater emotional response. To rectify this problem, I now follow the Buddhist approach to life, using mindfulness - meditation daily to train myself to react in a more appropriate way to life's experiences. I also use CBT as well.