Witnessing Self Strategy
There are two wings of presence: mindful attention and heartfulness. Mindful attention is clarity about what is happening in the moment, and heartfulness makes room for it with kindness
Have you ever been triggered and your reaction totally takes you over?
Your body gets tense, your emotions feel out of control, your thoughts fire rapidly often adding negativity and stories that are not even happening? It can leave us feeling like a victim to the “bad inner and outer experiences” in our lives, at the mercy of our own reactivity.
As my desire to increase my self-awareness grows, I have found one of my favorite tools is finding the part of my awareness that is witnessing what is occurring. I have two simultaneous perspectives, one having a reaction and a second observing my reaction (observer concept). There is a portion of my attention that watches, without judgment or adding a story based on what has happened in the past or could happen in the future to the present experience. This perspective is like a clear mirror capable of observing my thoughts, events, emotions, and body. It is a neutral observer or subject watching my reaction as if it were looking at an object.
I imagine myself sitting in the audience, watching a good play where I am a character acting with others in the story I call my life. From this vantage point, I can freely watch the activities without influence from false beliefs and negative self-talk. From this perspective, I am capable of choosing a response instead of reacting automatically without choice.
As my witness or observer is cultivated, I recognize triggers and reactions in the moment more easily as they arise. As I notice without judgment, I am compassionate with myself and cultivate self-love when I understand that nothing out there has power over me, I can transcend the role of victim. I have the ability and freedom to choose to respond from the witness perspective confidently rather than have my behavior dictated by reactivity. My witness or observer provides insight into understanding my tendencies, resistances, preferences, idealizations, beliefs, and patterns. As this occurs, my triggers themselves diminish and I have more freedom and choice.
Observer Concept Explained
A Taoist teaching about a farmer who perceives clearly illustrates the observer concept. He attaches no reaction or distorted meaning to what was occurring in his life.
The Chinese farmer had an old horse for plowing his fields, and one day the horse ran away. His neighbor came over and offered his sympathy as he had heard the farmer’s horse had escaped. The farmer stated the horse had indeed run away, but in his perception, this was not good or bad, just what is. A week later, the horse returned to the pasture with an entire herd of wild horses. The neighbor stopped by to congratulate the farmer on his good fortune. Again, the farmer did not judge the occurrence as good or bad, just what is happening. A few days later, when the Chinese farmer’s son was out riding one of the wild horses, he fell and broke his leg. This time the neighbor came over with a small gift offering condolences for the misfortune of his neighbor’s son. The farmer reported the leg was expected to mend completely and thanked the neighbor for his concern. A few weeks later, the army came through the countryside, taking all the young men off to war. The farmer’s son was not required to go, as he had a broken leg.
How would our capacity to stay calm, open and present be affected if we could access our witness perspective and observe our life with the Chinese Farmer’s wisdom? We always have the choice of using an observer concept to direct our attention to our witness perspective and away from our automatic reactions. Practicing this technique of seeing clearly is a treasured gift to yourself (and your family, friends, and colleagues!).
You may also like to read my blog post Self-Love Creates Outer Love.
For more information and coaching advice you may want to read my book Living From The Center Within: Co-Creating Who You Are Becoming.