DBT: Judging and Splitting vs. Compassionate Consideration

Like most families  mine often seems to have its fair share of drama. It's one of the reasons I moved 3,000 miles away as soon as I was old enough to do so (naively believing, of course, that I wouldn't experience my own -- if only I got away from them.)

Years later, the drama continues from afar. I find that I am often very critical and judgmental when I hear about how one of my cousins ended up in jail for violent behavior and that another one has putting drugs before her children.

But, once I notice that I'm judging, my heart often softens.  I wonder if the person I'm judging is truly coping the best he or she really can.  Maybe my cousin who gets physically aggressive feels so unheard and angry and is so affected from being a veteran that he simply doesn't know or trust a better way of coping. Maybe drugs are the only way my other cousin believes she can cope with or numb the pain of years worth of trauma and sadness.

It would seem so, because I hear about the same behaviors repeatedly...but who am I to judge?  I wonder how many people shook their heads in disbelief hearing that I had quit another job, was in the hospital again, or any other number of behaviors that I repeatedly engaged in when I had no other tools in my emotional toolbox.

In DBT, we practice being non-judgmental in relationships by refraining from labeling people as "all good" or "all bad." We observe and notice that people - all people - truly are a mix of both.

The next time you catch yourself making a generalized statement about someone, just notice it. Consider if it is a judgment, then compassionately consider that you may not have all pieces of the story. The person may be coping as best as he or she can at this time, with the tools he or she has.

Extend that same compassion to yourself as well.

Thanks for reading.
More Soon.

You may also enjoy reading:

Splitting in Borderline Personality Disorder - The Pedestal Push
Spotting Black or White Thinking & Finding Shades of Grey


  1. I can't help but judge my family and others. I grew up with parents that were extreemely critical and judgemental all the time. Other family members were like that too. I don't even know what it's like to not feel judged and on a daily basis i'll bitch about my friends or family members, talking about all the things they're doing wrong with the way they're choosing to raise their kids. I feel justified in my judgements as i see them putting drugs/alcohol or boyfriends over their kids. I feel this way cos that's that's what i went through as a kid. It makes me so angry to see them doing that, they have no idea the damage they could cause their kids. It makes me furious just writing this. I absolutely want to be able to look at them with compassion. I will be back at the Skills group for the 4th time in 2013 so hopefully more will stick. Thanks for posting this.

    1. Thank you for the comment, Jess. I understand the anger, it it sounds quite valid to me. I find it so difficult to see children being raised by parents who I deem as being quite dysfunctional. I think of all of the "damage" that has been done to me. I've resolved to do all in my power to be a light in that child's life and to try to encourage and support the parent. I am sad to know that it's not always possible for me to do this. Hugs xo