BEFRIENDING YOUR EVALUATIONS, TURNING THEM INTO OBSERVATIONS

 

 

Here are five suggestions to help you capture and examine your evaluations. An exercise follows.

 

1.  Notice your thinking more often.

Listen to your inner dialogue.  Allow yourself some chunks of alone time with nothing happening.  Take time to catch up with yourself the way you would a friend you haven’t seen for awhile.  When you feel tense, let it remind you to sit with yourself for a while.  Invite an awareness of whatever language seems to describe this particular occurrence of tension.  Journaling, meditation, and talking openly with a listening friend will all help you slow down and become more aware of exactly what is going on in your head. 

 

2.  Stretch toward accepting all parts of your thinking.

Just sit with this listening to yourself, without judging or trying to change your thinking.  This will sometimes include thoughts that you might be embarrassed to speak in public, such as racist or sexist comments, prejudiced insults, self-doubts, and other rantings and ravings.  Congratulate yourself on hearing this hard-to-hear stuff.  This brings light to the ways we are distorting, a first step in getting it untangled and making choices.  It is also a gateway to finding our needs!

 

Judging yourself for having any of these thoughts will shut down and freeze the process.  The more you can accept your many inner voices, the more accurately you will hear your thoughts.  Learning to see yourself with honesty and with compassion is a solid start on your journey toward more accuracy in your observations, more aliveness, and more compassion for both yourself and others.  The evaluations in your head cause the most problems to you when you do not know they are there.  As you become familiar with them, it lessens their power to distort your thinking.

 

3.  Find some evaluations.  Insert the words “I am telling myself that” before each evaluation.

This will loosen your assumptions that the content of your evaluations is true.  (Other phrases that can help you back off are:  “It seems to me that . . .” or “One way of interpreting this is that. . .”) 

 

  • “I always mess up.”  à  “I am telling myself that I always mess up.”
  • “That person is a total dip.”  à  “I am telling myself that that person is a total dip.”
  • “Junior Lit is boring.”  à  “I am telling myself that Junior Lit is boring.”

 

4.  After you have gotten a clear hold on any evaluations you are thinking, change them to observations.  (Your evaluations have useful information for you—we will return to them.)

Don’t forget to do this step, but don’t rush into it as your first step if you want to improve your ability to spontaneously make observations more often.

 

  • “I always mess up.”  à  “I ordered chocolate cake instead of lemon cake last night.”
  • “That person is a total dip.”  à  “He told Pat the wrong time for the committee meeting.”
  • “Junior Lit is boring.”  à  “The class has been reading Faulkner.  I don’t like him.”

 

5.  Create silence in your environment and then silence inside your head.

One unusual suggestion offered by the General Semantics folks is to take time for non-word experiences in your life.  Cultivating times of silence outside and inside can loosen the grip of distorted thinking, and help you better sense reality. 

PLAYING WITH YOUR EVALUATIONS:  Consult the last page for details on each step.

 

Capture three of your own original evaluative thoughts or make up three evaluations.

a. I always mess up.

 

b.

 

 

c.

 

 

d.

 

 

Rewrite the original evaluation with the words “I am telling myself” in front of each.

a. I am telling myself that I always mess up.

 

b.

 

 

c.

 

 

d.

 

 

Describe the triggering event without any evaluations. 

a. I ordered chocolate cake instead of lemon cake last night.

 

b.

 

 

 

c.

 

 

 

d.

 

 

 

 

Sun 

Reality

is much broader and more fluid

than evaluations.