A client in one of my TeamUp Triad Coaching sessions was dealing with anxiety, and he would often get caught up in anxious rumination listening to his mind saying things like “I’m going to lose my job, I will never get a new job, I’ll end up poor”.
He became almost paralyzed by his thoughts, and he would have a very hard time getting out of his head once this started. We worked with mindfulness principles to change this; whenever he would start feeling the thoughts and anxiety come up, he would breathe deeply and try to look at the thoughts like they were clouds on the sky.
The anxiety would still be present in his body, but he noticed that when he observed the thoughts he wouldn’t get caught up by them and feed them even more.
Eventually whenever it happened he would immediately recognize it and say to himself ‘oh here is that thought again’, and once he learned that he could actually detach from the thoughts, he could more easily calm down the anxiety.
Chances are that we all have tried becoming overpowered by negative thoughts or emotions – I know I have! – but what fuelled a change for my client was embodying the concept of observing the self.
If we are unaware of our thoughts and emotions we will judge, react and engage with the world from these. We will act automatically and unconsciously. However if we start paying attention to how the mind works: how it constantly chatters away creating a continuous commentary to our lives we can detach from it and be less influenced by what it is telling us.
Our human experience includes a full range of emotions including some of which, like fear, are unpleasant and can’t be avoided. The more we observe our mind and emotions we will realize that we all have fears, worries, traumas, anxieties and insecurities.
When my client started to become aware of his thought patterns he realized that he actually had a choice to disengage and instead allow himself to be with the feeling without fueling it with additional thoughts or stories. It didn’t mean that he wouldn’t experience the emotion, but it would now take less hold of him.
You can reclaim your power by observing your own thoughts and feelings, and thereby expand your options on how to respond to any situation. It is a constant practice that I myself have to keep up. When I just notice what arises, without engaging, judging, or criticizing it helps me to experience any situation more fully and make better choices.
Such practice of observing without judgment can be towards our own thoughts and feelings, but can also be applied to our environment. Watch Brian talk about the same practice applied to a mundane activities like eating!
TRY IT OUT! You can build up your awareness by observing your mind. Sit in a chair and take 5 slow deep breaths. Begin to pay attention to the gap between your thoughts — the short time after one thought subsides and before another arises. Act as if you are watching a movie of your own stream of thoughts from a director’s chair. Don’t judge or get involved in the movie, simply watch it. This way you will train your observing self.
Co-founder of TeamUp
TeamUp Coaching is a revolutionary and affordable coaching approach that enables you to create better relationships, enhance your career, and live a deeper, more meaningful life.
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