The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. — Marcel Proust
Once you have described a behavior you’ve observed, eliminating judgment from your description, the next step is to interpret that behavior. Keep in mind that this is your interpretation—which means that it may or may not be valid for the person with whom you are communicating. Interpreting, too, is nonjudgmental, in a sense. While there is always judgment involved in deciding what someone’s intent is, you are taking full responsibility for your perception, and thus you are not accusing or blaming the other of having certain motives; you are simply sharing with your partner your impressions of the why I didn’t address yesterday.
What You’ve Said So Far: I noticed you watching that woman as she walked by, and then you just commented on what nice legs she has.
Step Two: Interpreting the Behavior. We all make many assumptions about why others do the things they do, and often we give these assumptions little thought; we just take it for granted that we know the motivations of others. This is so often incorrect. Step Two allows you to share your assumptions, but it also creates a context in which you are making it clear that you are not at all certain that you corner the market on perception.
“When you watched her, and then when you commented on her legs, I assumed that you were feeling attracted to her.”
Observe: Again, do not judge (“You shouldn’t be doing that when you’re married,” for example). You also made it clear, by using the word assumed, that you take ownership of your perceptions, rather than defining the world and insisting that your definition is necessarily correct.
A CONSCIOUS LIVING PRACTICE FOR TODAY – DECEMBER 7
Practice interpreting behaviors you observe—again, without judgment of those behaviors. When your partner slams a door, you can interpret (still to yourself), “I assumed you were angry.” When your child pouts, you might interpret, “I’m thinking you might be disappointed about not going with me.” Today is the why!
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