“Always ask yourself, in every situation, whether you’re just repeating an old pattern … or stepping up your game.” ~Marianne Williamson
As the pace of life has slowed for me and the level of stress has diminished over the last weeks, I am noticing that my ability to tap into my inner curious observer-self is increasing. I have finally reached a point where I have slowed and stilled enough that this self-observation is becoming second-nature almost without me realizing it.
I was writing in my journal earlier today about several situations and conversations that had provoked an emotional response from me. As I did so, I found that two phrases kept popping up over and over again.
The first was “I am noticing that …” (or sometimes “I noticed that …”) followed by a description of something I observed about myself in the situation I am recounting. Most often, this observation is of a feeling—by that, I mean an observation of what I actually FELT (e.g., my shoulders tensed up or I felt anxiety in the pit of my belly) rather than my usual jump right to a story about what I felt (e.g., he/she was mean to me for no good reason). It’s amazing to me what a difference it makes to pause at the awareness of what I am feeling in my body before I move on to analyzing it. This step in and of itself is starting to free me from the tyranny of my ingrained patterns by giving me the time to consciously choose: will I repeat my old pattern or step up my game?
The second phrase that keeps popping up is actually even more fascinating to me. That phrase is “I find it interesting that ….” This is almost always followed by the observation of some pattern. For example, “I find it interesting that the way I felt when Person A said that to me is the same way I feel when Person B says X to me … I wonder if there is a common trigger here that is setting off a pattern that is dictating my emotional reaction and/or behavior.” Other times I find it interesting when I notice that I have reacted in some way that is different from my usual pattern in a situation where I normally would have gone on autopilot right into the pattern’s control.
Not only am I delighted to find myself noticing these patterns—which gives me enough detachment to decide whether to repeat the old pattern or step up my game—I am fascinated to note how thoroughly I mean it. I do find it interesting. Interesting in a truly detached, curious observer kind of way. There’s no judgment in “interesting.” I’m managing to skip right by my usual labels of horrifying, embarrassing, disgusting, shameful, or some equally negative and limiting judgment. I’m just curious. Fascinated. As if I’m solving a puzzle. Or getting to know a new friend or lover and am trying to figure out how she thinks. (After all, that’s the most delightful kind of puzzle I know!)
Don’t get me wrong! There are still plenty of times when I slip into old patterns without realizing it and plenty of times when I judge myself harshly. I’m nowhere close to having this mastered. Nevertheless, I am noticing that this new way of being as the curious observer is becoming more comfortable and more natural all the time. I find myself slipping into that role now without having to consciously work at it or remind myself to do it. I doubt that I could do this even nearly as effectively if I were plunged back into the constant overwhelmed state I had been living in for so long, but I hope to continue to building this ability to the point that I will be more able to remain a curious observer even when stressed in the future.
However, I am also starting to find this “noticing” and “finding interesting” behavior showing up more and more as I observe my reaction to different options as I am trying to make decisions about what I might want to do with the rest of my life. I spend time envisioning what it would be like to do different possibilities in a day-to-day kind of way and notice my reaction (physically and emotionally) to those visions. It’s interesting how my observed reaction doesn’t always jibe with what I thought I wanted, and so this has been a great doorway into accessing my intuitive knowing about what I am meant to do. I am hopeful that my improved ability to listen to this inner knowing will keep me from ever again living in the kind of constant overwhelm that would drown out this ability to observe myself in a curious way.
I find it interesting that this has the possibility to be the start of a positive spiral—learning to pay attention to my observer-self will help me create life-conditions that optimize my ability to pay more attention to my observer-self in an ongoing upward spiral.
I find it interesting that simple observation makes such a difference.
A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a very fragile place, and it takes a good deal of vulnerability to share this personal journey of transformation so openly. Therefore, I need this to be a safe place for exploration and sharing for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight—or the expression of that experience or insight—are NOT welcome here and will be deleted.