There are lots of talk about limiting beliefs and how they hinder your life and your perception. What I don’t seem to find is much about the role of the observer that needs to be in place in order to find them.
In this post, I am going to dig deep into this concept. What the role of the observer is, and how it should be used and what benefits will bring to your life.
Why do you need the role of the observer?
Before we get into the definition of it, please allow me to paint a picture for you. I have two lovely sisters and yet as good, loving and caring they are, as kids we fought constantly. Mostly my middle sisters and I. As we knew each other really well, we perfectly knew how to push each other buttons. If we wanted to inflict pain, it was pretty easy.
A discussion that started on who ate the last piece of chocolate could escalate to massive proportions within minutes and become extremely vile. Obviously the issue was never the cake itself. Lots of other unresolved little things suddenly come to the surface with the smallest provocation.
As children, we didn’t know better and we relied on the assistance of adults to sort those conflicts. But as an adult, losing control or overreacting is something that needs to be examined.
Losing control in the heat of the moment
The first thing that I noticed upon examination was that in the heat of the moment you run in autopilot. Your focus is so concentrated on the particular emotion and there is no space for anything else.
In the fights with my sister, she would attack me, I would attack her back, and with every attack, she would escalate the damage and so would I. The same thing happens in our adult lives. Maybe not in such a clear and cut way, as we are not always at the same level as our perceived aggressors. For example, when your boss belittles you, you might not fight back at him/her in fear of losing your job, but you might harbour resentment that comes out later when you get home, and instead of directing that resentment to your boss, might be your partner or children the ones that get it.
Accumulated resentment needs to come out and, in most cases, a small thing blows Pandora’s box full open. The problem here is that it isn’t easy to see why you are blowing off.
In the heat of the moment, most of us are unable to see where the anger, the frustration is coming from. We direct it towards the ones we have around. So it is at this point where the role of the observer comes into place.
What is the role of the observer?
This term was coined in quantum physics. The role of the observer was designed to analyse and register all decisions in time and space.
In plain English, it is a mental position where you detach from being the actor in the situation and move to be an objective observer of the situation. An objective third party might ask relevant questions like: Why am I doing that? What is triggering this? And so on.
Detaching from the situation
As we talked before, in the heat of the moment, it is very difficult if not impossible to assess anything. Emotions are running high, and as you might have guessed, powerful emotions are difficult to control.
You need to wake up and become aware. That sounds simple, but when you are run autopilot and overwhelmed by emotions is not that easy. That is why this attitude needs to be practiced.
One of my daily practices is to monitor myself for negative emotions. When something small makes me feel uncomfortable in any way, I start asking questions around the situation. This way, I can get control over the small, so I can apply them to the big stuff when it comes up.
Another technique I use is creating triggers. I have a codeword that helps me to stop the behaviour at a moments notice and move to the observer position. I also practise that one. The idea here is to automate the behaviour. My intention is to stop the situation before it escalates beyond my control.
The more things escalate the hardest it becomes to stop them. From my point of view, there are two main ways to stop the escalation:
- Do not react
- React in a completed unexpected way.
I noticed that for me, the non-reaction is not always possible, but the dramatic change in direction can be achieved easily by using triggers.
Becoming the objective third party
Snapping out of the situation is not enough. If the issue is not dealt with, the likelihood of that situation being repeated is very high. I am not a big fan of dealing with the same issue over and over again. I am happy to deal with new issues, but repeated drama bothers me.
So, how do you deal with it? I have the theory that
“emotions want to be heard and when you allow them to come out and play, they get tired and go away”
At this point when you have detached from the situation is time to ask questions like:
- Why did I feel this way?
- What is behind this behaviour?
- What am I really feeling?
- Is this feeling based in reality or is it a trigger from another situation in the past?
Imagine yourself as an objective third party interviewing yourself as if this was a police investigation. The more information you have about the situation the easiest it would be to resolve the case.
Understanding what is going on inside you is priceless because it allows you to better assess the next steps. In some cases identifying the behaviour and where it comes from is enough to release it. In other cases, when that is not enough, like in the case of the abusive boss, it would prompt you to take the necessary action to resolve the situation.
How does this practice benefit you?
You might have noticed at this point that becoming the observer requires practice and discipline, at least at the beginning. As the lazy person I am, I only invest time and effort on things that can bring a true return on investment, so why did I make this a daily practice?
- Clarity of mind – We all colour reality according to our perception of things. Things become positive or negative depending on your state of mind. This practice allows me to remove as many colours as possible so I can see clearly what is going on around me as I withhold my own personal judgement.
- Mental stability – The emotional bursts become rare and controlled. I am able to still feel all of the emotions, but I do not allow them to rule my life. As I analyse and pick apart every emotion, it is easy for me to get a handle of the “why” and quickly assess the veracity of the emotion.
- Better relationships – One of the things that I noticed when I dug deep into myself was that understanding my emotions allowed me to also have a more objective reception of how it relates to others and where others came from. That is extremely freeing because it allows for better conflicts in more constructive ways.
- Defined direction – Mental clarity helps to make better decisions. My decisions were not ruled by past trauma or overwhelming emotions, which in turn lead to a more focus and determine direction. I moved from “avoiding pain” to a much more enjoyable “moving toward what I want”
There are more advantages to this practice if you decide to try it I can promise you will not be disappointed by the advantages you will receive.
It is always amusing how something as simple as changing the perception of an event can so radically change your life. Assuming the role of the observer is one of these mental shifts that can help you make better decisions and achieve more than you thought it was possible by freeing your mind of bad programming.
Although it requires some practice, soon it would become as automatic as driving. Do you remember the first time you did it? It seemed hard but now is second nature. The difference here is that when you get good at this instead of driving a car, you will drive yourself to success.