One of the things we will be training in is the ability to make distinctions. At the core, wisdom is the ability to know that this is different from that. If I am going to weed the garden, I have to know what the weed seedlings look like and what the seedlings look like that are the plants I want to keep.
Five Crucial Distinctions
There are five distinctions that are critical to being able to resolve conflicts in our relationships, and thus to be able to build healthy relationships. Briefly these distinctions are:
Distinguish What is going in my interior domain from how I act in the exterior domain: Just because I may be experiencing a particular feeling or set of feelings doesn't mean that I will behave in any given way. Feelings are not the same as behavior.
Distinguish What actually happened from the story that I tell about what happened: How I make meaning about the events in my life is very important. But the meaning I make and the story that I tell about the event is not the same as the event itself. Indeed, others who experienced the same event may find it to mean something very different from what it means to me.
Distinguish What effect the event had on me from what I think caused the effect: Can I be aware of what is going on within me and know that it is different from what I believe is going on around me?
Distinguish What qualities and conditions are best for the relationship from what I want for myself: What I want is for others to be the way I want them to be. What I need is to have certain qualities in my relationships with others.
When we focus on what we cannot do anything about, we feel powerless and hopeless. When we focus on what we can do, we discover how immensely powerful we really are.
- Agreements and Understandings
- Being and Doing
- Being angry and Having anger
- Believing and Believing In
- Change and Transformation
- Conflict from Fight
- Differentiation and Integration from Dissociation and Fusion
- Expectations and Standards
- Feelings and Emotions
- Hurt and Harm
- Reacting and Responding
- Responsibility and Accountability
- Simple and Easy
- Subject and Object
Our ability to distinguish this from that is one measure of intelligence. Standardized IQ tests measure one's ability to know how one thing is different from another and even how the difference between A and B may be like or unlike the difference between B and C. Scoring well on such tests may not be a good indicator of one's ability to get on in life, but being able to distinguish between things is a necessary skill if one is weeding a garden or preparing a meal.
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