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Reality-Rationale Integrity (Distinction Training)

“Reality is much kinder than your thoughts about it.” ―Byron Katie

What is Distinction Training?

Distinction training is the ongoing process of retraining ourselves in a new level of rigor in truth-telling to ensure that the distinctions we use and use us through the mechanism of words more accurately reflect the reality that we want to describe or affect, both in our thinking and in our speaking.

Don't we have dictionaries for that?

Dictionaries provide a useful function by informing us of a consensus of how others use words, but stop short of explicating how some words are often used to our detriment because of their break with reality.

Some dictionaries, like the Cambridge English Dictionary, do a great job of this, detailing all the various distinctions that a single word can denote. Let's look a the word "maybe."

  • Used to show that something is possible or that something might be true:

    • Maybe they'll come tomorrow.

    • Maybe you were right after all.

  • Used to show that a number or amount is approximate:

    • There were 200, maybe 300, refugees on the boat.

  • Used to politely suggest or ask for something:

    • Maybe Ted would like to go.

    • Maybe we should start again.

  • Used to avoid giving a clear or certain answer to a question:

    • "Are you coming to Kelly's party?" "Maybe."

  • Used to mean that something is a possible explanation for why something else happened:

    • "Why were you chosen for the team and not me?"

      • "Maybe it's because I've been to more practices than you."

How distinction training applies to the word "maybe"

All of the distinctions for "maybe," except the fourth one, are useful in a way that don't usually cause problems. The fourth distinction "used to avoid giving a clear or certain answer to a question," is fraught with problems and should be removed from our vocabulary in order to increase our Reality-Rationale Integrity and thereby have better relationships with others as well as ourselves.

Notice what we're avoiding by using "maybe" in this way

In the example, "Maybe I will go to your party," how is that likely to be heard by the person you just spoke to?


They might consider it a polite (but still sleazy) way to say "no." Maybe (using the fifth denotation of "maybe") they will feel disrespected that you weren't straight with them and they will also lose some respect for you. Maybe you will leave them hoping but unsure of whether to count on you. Maybe you will leave them in a state of indecision about whether to ask you again later. Maybe they will even halfway count on you to show up for their party and they'll feel cheated if you don't. Maybe it will leave them hesitant in letting you know about opportunities in the future.


Also, where does it leave you the speaker? Perhaps you already know you won't go but you don't want to hurt their feelings by saying so more clearly. Maybe you want to leave it up in the air so you can decide later depending upon how you feel. Maybe you know you will go if something unexpected doesn't happen, but you don't want to tell them that. 

With a little thought, there are polite respectful ways to speak more openly and honestly in response to such an invitation rather than toxify your relationship with a "maybe."

An even more toxic avoidance that we give credence to by using the word "maybe"

Consider the example, "Maybe I will exercise tomorrow."

Whether you're just speaking this to another or thinking it to yourself, you're implying something that is not true and thereby giving away your power. In most circumstances, you have the power to say either, "I will exercise tomorrow" or "I will not exercise tomorrow." By using the word "maybe" you're implying that you don't have the power to clearly say "yes" or "no." What are the benefits of using the word "maybe" here, since either promising you will or you won't is more powerful?


Most probably a benefit is, "I want to look good to myself or to you by mentioning that 'maybe I will exercise', but, at the same time, I don't want to face the fear and the sense of lack of freedom by promising clearly that I will exercise tomorrow (and then feel bad about myself if I don't)."


"Also, I don't want to promise 'I will not exercise tomorrow' because I will feel bad about myself now for promising that and it also stimulates the fear that if I don't keep 'trying' by saying 'maybe' then I'll never have the healthy and fit future that I want."

Distinction training to increase Reality-Rationale Integrity

Reality-Rationale Integrity means to create and maintain congruency between reality and our thoughts about it so that we are more empowered to love the living of our life.

Distinction training, as we have just done with one of the distinctions of the word "maybe," is a process by which we can enhance our Reality-Rationale Integrity.

Some distinctions to create more RRI

Are you miserly with your requests?


Conflating "sacrifice" and "cost"

Confused or unclear? Are you clear?


Factbelief or Fatebelief

Fear for Dufear?


Is it hard?

Should: the disambiguation

Toxic Words: busy (video)

Toxic Word: comfortable (video)

Toxic Words: doing your best (video)

Toxic Word: forgive (video)

Toxic Words: hard and difficult (video)

Toxic Words: have to and must (video)

Toxic Word: lazy (video)

Toxic Words: maybe and perhaps (video)

Toxic Words: those big six (video)

Toxic Words: weird and strange (video)

Toxic Words: what are they? (video)

Toxic Words: freshen up your mouth

Toxic Words: have a right

Trusting less and doubting more

Why is "why" a toxic word? 

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