Self-observation as a way to move forward


What do you do when you are feeling stuck, or unable to move forward on some issue in your life that is deeply meaningful to you?

One useful approach is to begin the practice of self-observation, or have one part of your attention watching you as you carry out normal daily activities. I call this the 80-20 rule. The larger 80% of you carries on with your day as a little 20% of you does the observing. It is very difficult to do this all day long, but it is possible to do this at certain points in your day.

Let’s say you are having difficulty in conversations, with others not understanding your point of view as well as you’d like. So you decide that, once a day, when you are in the middle of a frustrating conversation, you will watch yourself in it. Specifically, you may decide to watch your body sensations around the throat and chest area.

No big deal, no judgments, and no thinking about why this is going on! This simple observation is a kind of applied mindfulness practice, where you are concentrating on one aspect of your experience, becoming increasingly clear about what is going on, and developing the equanimity to let it come and go without you trying to direct or control it.

Why would this simple practice be helpful? Because seeing is freeing! Anytime you can perceive something that was previously beneath the surface of your awareness, you are a bit less governed by automatic reactions and a bit more able to develop creative responses to life situations.

Self-observation is one element of an Integral Coaching® approach.

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