You may have heard it said before that there are two distinct “I’s” in each of us. There is the “I” that thinks, talks, acts….and then there is the “I” that is the Observer.
The Observer is the part of you that sees what you are doing, that hears what you’re going to say before you even speak it. This is the same part that notices (something we’ve been talking about) and comments without judgment, in order to bring your attention to an area that you’d like to handle differently.
We’ve all experienced these two “I’s” before. Here’s an example to help you differentiate the two: When I was younger and much more impetuous with my comments, I didn’t know how to “edit” what I was going to say….and as a result, sometimes I said things that I quickly regretted.
The “I” that was doing the speaking was one part of me….and the other part of me (the Observer “I”) was the part that was thinking something like this, “Oh, am I really going to say that? Wow, I said it. And there it is, hanging in the air like a lead balloon….that feels uncomfortable. I wonder when I’ll learn to catch myself before blurting out things like that?”
From my personal example, you can see that it is helpful to listen to the Observer “I”. It is the very wise part of you (it’s your internal GPS/inner knowing). And it can help you to step back and really see yourself from another vantage point.
It can also help you to emotionally and mentally remove yourself from a situation that you’re embroiled in. This is a helpful skill to develop — especially around the holidays and family gatherings.
Here is how it works: While you are involved in a heated discussion with someone, and your emotions and mind are getting quite upset and distraught, you can “switch perspectives” to the Observer “I” point of view. When you do, imagine you are standing back and watching yourself in the situation. Watch with neutrality and an absence of judgment. Pretend you are a reporter who is trying to gather “just the facts”.
By stepping into the Observer “I” role, you effectively distance yourself from your emotions and thoughts about the situation, and you become quite peaceful and impartial….not really caring if “you” win the argument or not.
Ram Dass said this quite succinctly, “Learn to watch your drama unfold while at the same time knowing that you are more than your drama.”
When you’ve practiced making this switch from the actively engaged “I” to the Observer “I”, you’ll get to where you can do this at will. And from the Observer “I” position, you can clearly see that whatever the other person is saying or doing has little to nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with their reality, their perceptions, their internal dialogue, their past, their hurts, etc.
From this peaceful place of Observer “I”, you are then able to see the situation impartially and without a care as to how it turns out. From this perspective, it doesn’t really matter if you make your point, convince someone of your belief, or if you are even heard!
And why is this so beneficial? Well, as Don Miguel Ruiz said in his famous book The Four Agreements, “When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” And as far as I’m concerned, avoiding needless suffering is a pretty huge benefit!
Try this out, and let me know how it goes. I’m betting that this time of year will provide ample opportunities at office parties, gatherings, in the mall, etc.