Experience and interpretation


A crucial skill for minimizing emotional chaos and sustaining clarity in your life is the ability to distinguish between your experience and your interpretation of your experience.  Your experience is simply whatever is happening in the moment — a sound, a taste, a bodily sensation, an emotion, any kind of interaction, etc.  Your interpretation is your mind’s reaction to that experience.  One way to understand this difference to to practice that when you are directly experience a moment of life, you are within it, when you are interpreting it, you are outside it……. The next step toward breaking your habit of automatically interpreting every experience is to practice being mindful from moment to moment of the distinction between experience and interpretation.  Begin to notice, ‘Is there a difference between my direct experience of what’s going on and how I’ve interpreted it?’  You’ll need to practice noticing over and over again before you really start to know the difference.   The more you’re able to distinguish experience, from interpretation, the more you’ll be able to stay in the moment, the calmer you’ll be, and the more choice you’ll have for responding skillfully to whatever circumstances arise. 

Phillip Moffitt, From Emotional Chaos to Clarity

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