The role of observer

Published on 14 April 2024 at 07:00

 It is good to be able to recognize thoughts that are distressing- such as intrusive thoughts/ negative thoughts or perspectives/ irrational thoughts – those that are based off of cognitive distortions. Cognitive distortions can be thought of as irrational thought patterns (like mind reading/ catastrophizing/ all or nothing thinking for example). Core beliefs are underlying beliefs we have about ourselves the world that we develop from a young age (such as “I am worthy/ I am loved/ the world is safe/ the world is not safe/I am not good enough”). All of this together- and also throw in temperament and our experiences in the world through this journey of life- and that impacts how we show up in the world and how we think/ react/ feel.

A lot of people experience racing thoughts/ worries, and negative thinking. With CBT we discuss reframing those thoughts/ shifting those/ trying to identify triggers and alternative perspectives. These are great tools and it is good to be aware and work on reframing. If we reframe consistently and with time, new neural pathways will develop and we will start to respond in better ways naturally. The biggest part of the process is recognizing and acknowledging those thoughts.

Some good acknowledgements/ reframes- things to remind yourself of ---

  • Thoughts are not facts
  • Thoughts do not define me
  • This is my anxiety/ depression talking …..
  • This feeling is temporary

What will happen is we have a thought, that leads to a feeling, and a behavior/ action. The trick is to redirect the thought before it turns into a feeling that is harder to cope with. Sometimes the only way out is through, so it is important to feel what you need to feel – and know that feelings are fluid and it will shift, it is temporary.

Another dynamic here is to consider a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness is simply being present without judgement- so thoughts are not good or bad- they are “just thoughts”. I like to say what may help us think in a more neutral way? The main thing here – is the concept of the OBSERVER.

Can I learn to simply observe my thoughts and not attach to them, not give them meaning, not let them define me. Yes- !

Visualization/ observer ideas-

Picture thoughts as clouds floating by

Picture thoughts drifting away on balloons being let go in the air

Picture yourself holding an umbrella and letting the thoughts wash over the side of the umbrella, not touching you.

Picture a fire place burning from a distance, not adding to the fire with your thoughts -simply observing it – adding more “negative” things to the fire will enrage it

Think about how to be more present as an observer of your thoughts and experiences and reach out if you like, love hearing thoughts and comments from my readers! 

Best, Jen 

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