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

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