I have been working on a second edition of When Hope is Not Enough, in which I am adding some exercises as well as some new tools and perspectives to make the book even more effective. One of the exercises is in learning how to be mindful of one’s judgmental attitudes. I often say that people with BPD are almost allergic to judgment. I find that this can be tracked back to shame which in turn can be tracked back to an unstable sense of self. Here is the first draft of the exercise:
One way to become non-judgmental is to become aware of your (often) unconscious and conditioned judgments. I often hear Non-BP’s say, “My BP is acting crazy” or some such. The labeling of anyone’s behavior as “crazy” is a judgmental label. The behavior that anyone does makes sense (even if it is emotional sense) to the person at the time they are doing those actions. Certainly, a person with BPD might perform certain actions that someone without BPD would find objectionable or “crazy.” However, because of a number of symptoms of BPD, especially shame and fear of judgment, labeling another person’s actions as invalid or crazy can undermine the trust that you are trying to build.
In this exercise, I would encourage you to take a specific time-frame – it could be an hour, two hours or a full day – and identify your judgments of other people’s actions, attitudes and interactions. In other words, if you find yourself thinking about another person (whether with BPD or not), “that person is an idiot,” that is a judgment and should be counted as one. Continue to practice this exercise such that you can become more aware of the judgments about others and about life that you make, even if those judgments are ingrained and unconscious. By making the unconscious biases conscious, you can more easily slip their grasps and become less judgmental of others, including your loved one with BPD.
Keep and mental or written tally of these judgments to see if, after time, the number of judgmental thoughts is reduced.