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Card 8 - Observing Self

Card 8 – Observing Self
One of the cards from the
in8 Cards Well Being
Resource Pack

Your Mind is a Power Tool

Andy Shaw (author of “A Bug Free Mind“) describes the mind as a power tool – fantastically useful when applied appropriately.

But imagine having an electric power tool in your hand which you cannot switch off! It would very quickly cause chaos.

Accessing the OFF Switch

If you cannot switch a tool off when it is not needed, then you run the risk of the tool controlling you rather than you being in control of it.

This week I have been reminded just how important it is for us to be able to apply the power tool of our mind to the things that we choose, rather than having it constantly running in an aimless and automatic way. Luckily we were born equipped with an innate resource which provides the gateway to the control room of our minds. This resource is called many different things in different cultures and different disciplines. Those trained in the human givens approach will know it as: “The Observing Self“.

Emotions versus The Big Picture

Emotions drive us forward – (they e-Motivate us). One of the ways that they do this is by narrowing the focus of our attention. When we are emotional we are locked into the immediacy of the moment – immersed in the situation. The stronger the emotion, the narrower and more focussed is our attention. In a very real sense, we are unable to see the bigger picture at these times.

Conversely, our Observing Self is that part of us which sees the bigger picture, it enables us to understand the wider context of a situation. In its ultimate form it allows us to perceive that everything is connected. In this sense it might be considered the gateway to the spiritual aspects of life.

We are unable to access our observing self (see the bigger picture) and experience strong emotions at the same time. So accessing our observing self is a useful and practical way to come out of the trance state of locked high emotional arousal. One of the quickest ways I know to achieve this is by using the 7-11 breathing technique

A Common Problem

Many people who come to in8 for help have great difficulty controlling the power tool which is their mind. For example, when they go to bed they find that they can’t turn it off – which results in them not being able to sleep. Or during the day they fantasise about an unrealistic future which keeps them stuck in an abusive relationship. Or perhaps they ruminate endlessly about negative experiences in their past or obsess about fears concerned with the future. Maybe they are unable to leave home without double or triple checking that they have locked the door. Or perhaps they are addicted to something that temporarily lifts their mood. Where we place our attention dictates the reality that we experience, so if we can’t point our power tool where we choose – then we have little chance of experiencing the life that we want.

Whatever techniques are used to move towards improved mental health, it is a common experience for our clients, that getting better frequently involves gaining control of their most powerful tool. This may be familiar to those that practice mindfulness, meditation, yoga, T’ai chi, Qigong etc. However, I think it is important to recognise that our Observing Self is an innate tool which all humans possess – and that utilising it does not require membership of any religion, cult, sect or club.

But I’m Too Busy!

I should no longer be surprised (but I always am!) when I people tell me that they are too busy or even admit that they are too impatient to spend 15 minutes each day learning and then practicing the discipline of controlling their own thoughts. After all, what could possibly be more important! But it happens. Luckily, there are other ways to escape from endless uncontrolled rumination. Any activity which allows us to enter a state of “flow” will also serve to distract our mind from unhelpfully negative habits. Flow might not give us access to our Observing Self, but it can still be effective in breaking habits of negative thought.

If you struggle to control your thoughts – or if you need to turn your power tool off when it isn’t required, please contact in8 to find out how we can help.