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Self Observation- The Path To A More Stress Free Life

We all know what it’s like to have that internal dialogue going on inside our minds. For some of us it’s there so often that we forget it’s even happening. And it’s worth noting that for most of the time this dialogue is focussed on something related to the past or the future.

This ability to be aware of the concept of past and future is of course essential for us to live in the world around us, on a day to day practical level. Unfortunately this dialogue can become very powerful and intrusive. Quite often when we are stressed or anxious it will override our sense of rational perspective so that what we are thinking is interpreted by the body as very real…which then sets off our physical stress response.

One of the most effective and recognised steps to quieten our mind and reduce stress and anxiety is simply to bring awareness to our internal dialogue, feelings and behaviour.

As humans we are unique in the animal kingdom to have use of the ability to step out and observe ourselves. If you live with a cat or dog or indeed any other animal and get to watch them living their lives you will see that they live almost completely in the present, with little awareness of past or future.

When we spend too much of our time reliving the past or worrying about the future, it comes to define our present.

One way of helping us become more grounded in the present, which in turn brings a sense of control, is to engage our observing self. This is a skill which needs time to practice and work at, as it is a conscious act that we need to be fully aware of.

There are three key steps to using this skill and I have outlined them below in the form of an exercise. To start with it is easier to practice this approach when you are in a normal state of awareness or experiencing low level stress or anxiety. Once it becomes easier to use you can then apply it to more stressful times.

1.Firstly just become aware of your internal dialogue/voice. Imagine that there is the you that is observing and there is the you that is the internal voice. This is usually a very empowering concept and realisation.

2.Next try and accept the voice, feelings or behaviour. Don’t judge. Accept there is no right or wrong, good or bad. You might notice how easy it can be for the observing you to be drawn into the internal dialogue and feelings associated with that.

3.Finally as the observer try and establish if the internal dialogue is drawing from the past or focused on the future? Notice that as the observer you are doing neither and are simply observing.

To start with you may find that being able to take the role as the observer is only possible for a few seconds, before being drawn back into the internal dialogue and story being created. Just by recognising when that happens is very helpful.

Accessing and then staying with our observing self is difficult because we rarely do it. Through repetition we have become so used to creating our internal dialogue and story that it has become a habit we fall into unconsciously. By starting to break that habit and become more conscious of our observing self we can start to make it easier to access this state when we want to, which then allows you to have far more control over the internal dialogue.

You might also like another of my blog posts titled Changing Negative Thinking

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Author Lawrence Michaels

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