Using non-Judgmental Observation to Improve Your Relationships
There are two paths people take when trying to understand relationships—making observations and making interpretations. With observations, you limit the evidence to what you take in with your five senses. With interpretations, you expand this evidence to whatever your logical imagination can concoct. The thing is, since the mind is incapable of keeping these two kinds of evidence separate, it treats everything which sounds reasonable as if it is valid evidence, even the "evidence" has been invented. Here, by "invent," I mean some folks constantly look for new ways to interpret what they've observed. Moreover because many of these interpretations value logic over direct evidence (observations), any observations which do not fit the current logical hypothesis get ignored and discarded.
Try omitting even one check from your check register. Then try using logic to add it back in. What kind of answer would you get? This is what happens to people who base their lives on interpretations. No surprise they're constantly misunderstanding their lives and the people they love. The good news? It's easy to improve every relationship you have. Simply learn to tell the difference between observations and interpretations. After you do, then avoid interpreting as much as possible. The more you succeed, the better your life will become.
This then is the point of this series of articles—to help you to become proficient at knowing this difference. We'll begin in this article with a few simply rules, ways in which to discern between observations and interpretations.
What defines something as an "observation?" Start with how it references time.
- The most powerful observations occur in the present.
- Secondary observations refer to the past.
- No observations refer to the future, except when referring to present or past references wherein someone imagines the future.
An easy way to discern between observations and interpretations then is to rule out all those things which predict what may be observed in a future time. Unless of course you are Madame Zola in which case you don't need the skills being taught in this seminar, as your psychic abilities eliminate this need.
In essence then, when I refer to observations, I mean the things you're personally witnessing or have witnessed. And yes, these things can include other people's personal observations. But only if you've personally seen and heard these folks make those observations.
A second thing which makes things observations is that you can picture what your observations refer to. If you can, then you're observing. If you can't, then you're interpreting.
Admittedly, this gets tricky when you can hear, smell, taste, or touch things—but cannot see them. Here the thing to keep in mind is the difference between darkness and blankness. You can picture darkness; the absence of light. You can't picture blankness; the absence of consciousness.
Then there is the idea that there are two observable fields of vision, "in here" and "out there" "In here" is anything which occurs entirely in your mind. "Out there" is anything which occurs entirely outside of yourself.
This time a good way to know the difference is to close your eyes. If the only thing you can see is the back of your eyelids, then what you're picturing is "out there." And if what you're picturing is something other than your eyelids then what you're picturing is "in here."
A third criteria for observations is that they cannot be taken out of context. In other words, to be observations, they must be taken as parts of stories. Know this is true even when we claim to have observed only one thing, as in reality all things occur as increments of a sequence.
In part, this is due to the laws of physics. In part, this is due to the arrows of time and change. Either way, if we treat all observations as parts of a story, we realize that the meanings (interpretations) of our observations change based on where we begin and end.
A fourth criteria for personal observations is that they cannot blame. At the same time, they may refer to observing yourself or someone else blame. Either way, if there's blame in your observations, something has been distorted or exaggerated. But reporting that you saw this is not the same as doing it yourself. One is an observation, the other an interpretation.
A fifth criteria for personal observations is that they cannot involve judgment. Indeed, all judgment is rooted in interpretations even when these judgments begin with observations. Of course, some interpretations don't begin with observations. Indeed, the worst judgments begin with interpretations and then interpet these interpretations. Indeed, some interpretations go several levels deep, and the more levels of interpretation there are, the more likely the judgment is baseless.