“There is nothing external that can ‘put your mind at ease.’ Your mind is under your control, and yours alone. And be careful not to judge yourself for your fears. Remember the bottom line: You must love yourself for who you are right now. The seeds of self-acceptance and self-esteem will quickly grow and bear the fruits of positive change. Seeds of self-loathing will bear nothing but thorns.” ~Dorothy Mendoza Row
I am increasingly finding myself living in what is for me a very bizarre place. Over time, my curious observer-self continues to grow stronger. While I still have moments when I lose sight of that, those moments are becoming rare. It’s as if this separate witness-self is watching me all the time now, and just as physicists have discovered in some of their experiments, I am discovering that the very act of observing myself is changing the observed reality.
I have had multiple interactions and other experiences lately where I am acutely aware that my usual patterns would be taking me off in a given direction, but the very fact of observing myself is removing the power from the patterns without me having to actually choose to change. I notice familiar emotions, thoughts, and situational triggers, but it’s as if the triggers no longer work the way they used to.
This is both rather unnerving because I suddenly don’t know what to expect from myself anymore and very freeing because I now have a much greater range of choices when I am no longer trapped in my old patterns all of the time. The most amazing thing to me is how little effort this is requiring from me in order to make changes that, in some cases, I’ve wanted to make for years—changes that have proven extremely resistant to enormous amounts of effort in the past.
I think the key to this change for me has truly come from self-acceptance. The detached nature of my observer-self has given me the distance I need to be able to see my patterns as something separate from me, and this perspective has washed away so much of my habitual self-condemnation. When I fall into one of my usual patterns, I no longer spend all of my energy condemning myself as bad; I become curious about investigating the unhelpful pattern instead.
As I have continued to do this, a basic sense of self-acceptance has crept up on me without me even realizing it. Somewhere along the line I went from seeing myself as a bad person every time I messed up to seeing myself as a person who has learned some unhelpful patterns along the way. The neutral nature of the observer-self has led me to space of being just as accepting of myself as I am of others, and that acceptance has opened the door to change.
As long as my energy was going into beating myself up, all of that negative energy undermined my every attempt at change. Not only was I busy telling myself that change was not really possible as I condemned myself for being such a bad person, my very attempts to impose change on myself caused all of my patterns to rise up in resistance to such a harsh taskmaster. As I have relaxed into the space of acceptance, my self-confidence is greater, I am less identified with my patterns, and the lack of force is no longer triggering my internal resistance.
And this has set me free to choose to try new things in a spirit of curious experimentation. In some cases, I’ve decided after observation that a pattern that I thought needed changing may actually be one that is just a part of who I am and may actually be beneficial to me. In other cases, patterns that I thought were good ones are now showing themselves to be less helpful than I thought. And other patterns that I’ve wanted to be rid of for years are simply melting away before my eyes.
This is indeed a very strange place to be living because it is so unlike anything I’ve known before, but the freedom and the spaciousness I am finding here is priceless. And to think that all that was missing all this time was a genuine sense of self-acceptance! Who knew?
A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place 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 are not welcome here and will be deleted.