"Judgements" vs. "Distinctions"


Understanding the difference between "Judgements" and "Distinctions" can make a huge difference for you. Take a look and listen to just about any conversation that you have or hear during your day. If you listen carefully, you will start to notice that most, if not all, are peppered with judgments. Judgements carry with them little assumptions, assumptions and projections about what is right or wrong about the subject of the conversation; what is good or bad about the subject of the conversation. You have probably not noticed the assumptions, maybe you have. Maybe you have agreed with the judgments, maybe not, but I invite you to notice the presence of judgments.

The thing about judgments, everyone makes them. The other thing about judgments is that everyone can adopt or argue with judgments… there are upsides and downsides to every judgment. We may judge our judgments, but we rarely notice that we are engaging a process involving judgments, and judge the process of judgments, and why not? Is there an alternative to the peppered-with-judgment-conversations we indulge in everyday throughout the day? Sure there is, but you have to understand the difference between judgments and distinctions, to find the alternative, let alone adopt or use it.

Distinctions are simply, noticing differences, changes, patterns as they move from one moment to the next… perhaps an example will help here.

A chameleon is an animal that automatically changes color depending on the the color of the thing it encounters… if it is on a brown dead leaf, it's body turns brown, if it is on a bright green leaf, its body turns green. Now, this may be good or bad to you depending on whether you like brown or green better. It may be right or wrong depending on whether you like live leaves or dead leaves… did you notice that this all seems a little silly to you? After all right or wrong, or good or bad based on color of leaves and lizards… you're kidding right? If I was going on and on about a wrong lizard because it was brown might just make you walk away from me… and I wouldn't blame you (there's judgement again). After all, what good is this debate? What good can come out of colors and lizards? (there's the judgement yet again). How in the world could a debate like this be useful? Unless we are scientists, investigating lizards, their survival strategies, and the changes in color as being key to the lizards' survival… not very useful at all.

Not noticing that we are judging is like that, a little silly. We rarely notice our silliness when we are being serious about our judgments… in fact, we rarely have fun when we are being serious about our judgments. Judgments tend to trump fun and silliness… too bad, I think life would be better with a little more silliness and fun (Judgment again)…

Making distinctions will allow you to know when you or others are judging and when you are not… a pretty useful thing. Distinctions are things that we can all pretty much agree on, and agreement is useful too. At least we would know the things that form the bases of our discussions…little distinctions. We also might be able to ferret out the little assumptions that we make that end up being the basis for our misunderstandings.

Try to make some distinctions instead of judgments… start by noticing when you are making distinctions or making judgments. A little curiosity goes a long way, and maybe your day will will be a bit more laid back and even fun.

Posted on May 15, 2014 .