2014 has started with all sorts of solar flares and cosmic activities that some people say will change the way we live and especially our awareness! Which is interesting because I had planned to write early this year about the best strategies we can use to actually make change in our lives. The best strategy is to observe!
We go on vacation and make amazing plans so we can observe as much as possible while we are away. We take photos so we can remember; create unique experiences and try different things. We tell ourselves wonderful things about this trip before we leave and feel excited and look forward to it for ages! This puts us in a great frame to make sure we do actually enjoy it! We create memories and although we are totally convinced things happened exactly as we remember them, others are equally convinced that things happened differently!
Our memories or stories are based on our perceptions – not actual reality! Its how we see the world – through the glasses of our past experiences. We almost never take those glasses off which means we never really see what is actually in front of us.
I am inviting you on the journey of your life! An “inner vacation” if you like – that can be as exciting and more life changing than the holiday you planned! This is a major sight-seeing trip – with lots and lots to observe!
Planning Where to Visit!
The main feature of this holiday is to observe ourselves constantly – our thinking especially. We are going in with fresh eyes – full of wonder, ready to absorb new experiences and see new things! The first port of call is our behaviors, followed shortly after by a long and action packed stay in our thinking!
Behaviors, Habits and Patterns
Stephen Covey said: “You can’t talk your way out of what you’ve behaved yourself into.”
Our behavior usually comprises a series of unconscious habits and patterns – all ruled by fear of some sort. First thing we need to do is to observe our behaviors so we can identify patterns and habits.
If you really are serious about change, find a little exercise book that will become your observation journal! It is totally non judgmental. In it, you can write how you consistently react to everyone in your life! Highlight the easy relationships as well as the more challenging. Both at work and home. Especially your children and partners.
Review in your mind your interactions with each one and see if you can identify a pattern in your communication with them.
As you are reviewing, the most important phrase you need to be using is ‘interesting’ or maybe ‘how interesting!’ Find all your discoveries interesting – it avoids any judgement of yourself or anyone else. When you find things ‘interesting’, you are releasing an entirely different set of chemicals from a stress or panic reaction. Follow your thought of ‘interesting’ with “I wonder what is causing me to behave and react this way?” and write down what comes to you.
So, you are gradually (maybe one a night) reviewing your interactions with all the people you know. Once you have found some interesting patterns or consistent behaviors note them down on a habits and patterns page in your journal.
Now start to observe yourself (in your mind) in situations where you don’t know people well or at all. How do you behave in these scenarios? Note down those patterns and habits you see.
To give you an example, I can speak under concrete for hours in front of a group when I am doing my work. I love it! BUT‚Ä¶if asked to speak at a small birthday party of a friend, I completely lose any idea of how to make something short, pithy and relevant to that person! How interesting! LOL! I go red at the thought of it; feel sick beforehand and while speaking can observe I am as stiff as a board!
Find the Fears
Observing our behaviors and identifying patterns or habits gives us the fodder we need to trace back to the fears driving those behaviors. Go to your habits and patterns page and next to each one – write what fear you believe is behind each one. Examples of fears might be FOMO – fear of missing out; FOWOT – fear of what others think; FOPR – Fear of the past repeating itself! I just made that up!! Other examples include fear of not being good enough; or not lovable; or being abandoned or separated; or fearing for your safety. Behind all emotions like anger there is a fear fueling it.
Search for those fears and then observe their source or origin. From your adult perspective as you are traveling through the “land of you” on your inner vacation, consider whether those fears still relevant? Are they appropriate? Do they make things easier for you or more joyful?
Write down all those fears you are finding and their source and keep using the word “interesting!”
The Next Level – Your Story
Now you have observed the patterns of behavior and any habits you may have secretly embedded, and identified the fears, it’s time to find the ongoing source of them. Which of course is ‚Ä¶wait for it‚Ä¶your thinking! The next and probably most important level is to observe your thinking – all the time or as much as you can!
What are you saying to yourself about everything that happens and everyone around you? Are you anticipating or expecting difficulty, drama or disappointment? Are you telling yourself the situation is hopeless? Are you telling yourself you are helpless or a loser? I have mentioned many times, the stories we tell ourselves rule our lives. Observe your stories! Are they sagas – dramatic epics? Can you get a sense or observe what happens to others when you are so internally focused on yourself and the terror, anger, pain, disappointment, joy etc your story evokes in you?
This is a great time to be writing down all the stories and look at each one from your adult perspective on this day, right here, right now. Ask yourself if the story is true? Was it true once and no longer? Was it a projection from someone else’s misery and pain? Was it a comment made at a vulnerable moment in your life? Your parents fears? Their attempts to help you? There are many sources for our stories – and most of them are misinterpreted by us!
We can’t even see reality or the entire picture of the quantum soup world in which we live – we see just itty bitty, teeny little parts which we think are “it” – the whole. It’s like that fabulous YouTube video clip – first world problems. Watch it to see a great parody on the things about which we complain. I use the phrase ‘ first world problem’ almost daily – to stop me telling myself the story that life is soooo bad!
My printer broke this morning, I have $200 worth of ink for only that printer and cannot find another that will use it; my niece arrived and wanted urgent printing done; the painters arrived and we didn’t have access to my husbands office etc etc! LOL! I succeeded in laughing once I had taken a few breaths and reminded myself that ‚Ä¶really‚Ä¶get a grip Amanda – it’s a first world problem! What to me is more interesting, is why it took me 10 minutes to have this flash of the obvious! That is what I am observing and looking at as I write this post.
What’s happening inside you right now? Stop reading and start feeling and observing! Observe your thoughts in relation to what you have just read; observe how it makes you you feel; observe any cynicism or what story is emerging already – or maybe even a fear? Until we develop this art of self observation with a determination to find things ‘interesting’, life will go on the way it has.
The fears, patterns and habits will rule and you will keep your frustrations and difficulties! They are there to teach you something – but until you step back and observe during your annual inner exploratory journey you will find it hard to learn your lessons and become more joyful! The journey of your life starts today – if you want it to! Pack your metaphorical bags and baggage and head off with excitement in your heart! Enjoy!