Is this an observation or evaluation?

The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence. (Jiddu Krishnamurti)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“There are many facets to the Art of (Playful) Living. One of them is Observation.”

“You mean observing things in your environment?”

“That is one kind of Observation. I like to make a distinction between Inner and Outer Observation.

Outer Observation is focusing your attention outward, towards the Outer World.
Inner Observation is focusing your attention inward, towards the Inner World.

Both are important.

Inner Observation is about noticing your thoughts and thought-stories, feelings and sensations, impulses and behavioral patterns. It’s an essential component of Introspection.”


“We have a natural tendency to assign meaning to things. You notice something and, in a split second, your mind generates an interpretation about it. I call this process prereflexive-understanding. I like to metaphorically think of the output of this process as a ‘thought-story’.

Another way to think of it, which I know from Michael Gelb’s beautiful book The Art of Connection, is as an evaluation.

Noticing evaluations and letting go of negative ones is a very important Practice.

For a very long time, I was stuck in a recurring dysfunctional pattern. My mind would negatively evaluate something, which would trigger a feeling of guilt, with its associated unpleasant physical sensations.

We could think of this as a process, with the evaluation as the input and the unpleasant feeling as the output. You can manage this process in two ways: you can deal with the output, manage the unpleasant feelings once they have made their entrance, or you can deal with the input, ‘intercept’ the evaluation and circumvent the guilt-obstacle entirely. I lacked the means to deal with either.”

“What’s the Practice?”

“I’m constantly monitoring my mental world and asking myself:

Is this an observation or evaluation?

When I notice an evaluation that does not serve me, I gently let it go.

This is a question-tool. Using it for the first time, after reading Michael Gelb’s book, was eye-opening. I hadn’t realized how many negative evaluations I was making.”

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About Dani Trusca

Life-Artist, Thinker, Mover (Traceur)

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