Being an Observer

When we are willing to observe, we are willing to develop a relationship with the world that has no judgement in it. To observe is to choose to not react to what we receive through our senses, but to feel a deeper understanding of what is around us.

Yesterday I went to town with my son. I had a meeting with a friend and my son had a drawing class to go to. He does not have an amicable relationship with his teacher and therefore has expressed to me his reluctance to go to the class. We have come a long way in our relationship with each other for him to be able to share his feelings this honestly with me.

I immediately appreciated how far we have come and the quality of the connection between us.

This deeper connection between us developed with understanding and acceptance of each other. Coming to a deeper understanding and appreciation of myself, as well as my son’s development, is a very beautiful surrender. It dissolved the picture of how we have to be and freed the both of us to simply be ourselves and, with each choice we make, to continue to trust more deeply who we are. In this process there is an absence of a picture or an expectation of what this development looks like, especially in regards to having a time frame.

So yesterday, after we parted ways, I simply felt a very solid trust with myself and with him. A few hours later, into the evening, when I was having dinner with a group of friends, I received a text message from my son’s art teacher informing me that he did not show up for the class.

Immediately many thoughts flooded my mind, such as “How could he?”, “What?!?”, “Is he okay?” etc., but without reacting to these thoughts I stayed with myself and simply observed. I allowed myself a moment, and as I was still having dinner with friends, I simply allowed myself to sit with the feelings.

I felt the time I needed to leave, did not rush or delay it, said goodbye to my friends and throughout the walk towards the pier where I was going to take the ferry home, I continued to observe the feelings that arose. I could feel that there was a very faint lingering of a pattern of going into sadness from the reaction of being let down, which I simply surrendered more deeply into feeling.

After the ferry ride I had to take a bus home, and I received a phone call from my son. His voice was not audible in the call and I told him so, although I knew he was talking to me. When his voice did come through momentarily, it was a high-pitched shout, in reaction to him not being heard. And yet, as I was already in observation mode from the restaurant, I was still able to simply observe and no feelings of hurt arose as a result of the tone of his voice.

The moment I walked into the door of my home, my son came out to greet me in a joyful mood. Without judgement, I simply expressed, “There must be something you are feeling very stressed about if you chose not to go to class today, and I would like to understand what it is.” I also expressed how I felt finding this out from a third party. Because there was no judgement, my son communicated openly that he did go to his class, but while he was walking in he suddenly remembered a hurtful episode from his last class when he felt the teacher was not understanding and respectful of him, so he decided to go home.

This was probably the first communication between us that, even though we were touching on a topic that felt hurtful, we chose to express without reaction. Immediately with our choice to communicate in this way, our connection deepened even more. I was let into my son’s world more deeply, a side he has never verbalised or shared with me, and immediately my understanding of him deepened because we were communicating with words rather than with just outbursts of emotions followed with periods of non-communication.

An observation I have gathered from my relationship with the city I grew up in is that communicating from reactions – for example, speaking with sarcasm, frustration, outrage and with a sense of withdrawal – is an ingrained and normalised way of being.

Hence, my son’s previous reactions of frustration and anger would have seemed quite normal to him as they were very often mirrored in the world around him, to the likely detriment of us all.

… In essence, speaking in reaction like this is our unwillingness to admit that we are hurt.

It was by being present and being honest about my hurts that I found I could return to being observant by choice. Therefore it is very clear that this is what I will move into next in communication with my son and, from there, all others.

Inspired by the body’s wisdom to continuously feel and express deeper in commitment to observing, understanding and not absorbing life.

By Anonymous

Further Reading:
Learning to Observe and Not Absorb Life
The Science of hurts
To Observe and Not absorb

835 thoughts on “Being an Observer

  1. In some recent situations I was just naturally observing, and I realise now how that assisted me to not judge or get drawn in, feels so much more loving for all, ‘To observe is to choose to not react to what we receive through our senses, but to feel a deeper understanding of what is around us.’

  2. ”… In essence, speaking in reaction like this is our unwillingness to admit that we are hurt.”
    This is very well said. Whenever we react – we must seek coming back to ourselves first. Then after reflect on how and why things happen.

  3. If we don’t allow ourselves to feel the hurt we are not able to observe.
    If we give ourselves the space for what we feel we Can stay in observation also to the other And express from this place in us where the words just come without any other load in it.

    1. Very true Sylvia… we need to have an intimacy with ourselves, an openness to be real to what we have always felt and perhaps shut down and shunned away from. From there, we have the understanding and the knowing that the hurt is not real – even though it is in fact what everyone carries that perpetrates and circulates the judgement that abounds.

  4. The power of observation is the surrender to the what is and the letting go of the what is not. This is where we find the greatest intimacy and love for one another. Thank you Anonymous.

  5. When it comes to family, it is easy to react or get caught up with what is happening. I am having this experience at the moment and it is a great challenge to simply observe and not react. But in observing we do not get caught in emotion and we can openly express what is felt.

  6. Its actually incredible how deep our conversations and connections go when we observe rather than take on the emotions of others, which automatically leads to a reaction. We are always communicating at deep levels, but we do not have access to this when we come from a reaction, we simply can’t see it. Through observation we open up a path to understanding and see what is really going on for another (and for ourselves). There is no sympathy in this, that is also a reaction.

  7. Establishing a deeper connection with ourselves helps to build a steady quality of presence and awareness that supports us to observe and read the situations around us from an understanding that supports others instead of separating from ourselves and going into judgement and comparison.

  8. I love observation, it holds another in love, offering reflection and space for them to make the next move free of judgment.

    1. Beautiful to read this kimweston2 – it is so very true. The litmus test that it’s reaction instead is just that – if we react to what we are seeing or feeling, we are no longer observing.

  9. “Because there was no judgement, my son communicated openly that ……. ” When we observe and hold another with love there is no room for judgement. Great sharing – thankyou Anon.

  10. Observing life and everything in it offers us the grace to be in life, joyfully with ourselves while not being impacted by the onslaughts that abound. This is something I’m learning and needing to dive into at a whole new level – to observe and read life as opposed to reacting to it. It’s not easy when we haven’t observed life for a long time – lifetimes in fact – but it is where we are pulled to go. It is only through open and honest observation that we offer another way for everyone – one in which we stay true to ourselves no matter what is happening around us.

  11. What a wonderful life lesson you and your son were presented with simply by your choice to observe and to not get drawn into the destructive pattern of reaction. Making this choice you were able to offer him the space to express something that he had been holding onto for a while, something that left unhealed would only fester, harming him in the process. Now he has been able to heal supported by the freedom to express with honesty.

  12. Observe life but do not absorb it, is one of those sentences that keeps on giving. Choosing to not react when it comes to our kids and partners has to be the biggest challenge. A key I learned recently is that it is natural to react, it is just what we choose to do next that counts. Allowing ourselves to feel, the hurt, to read the situation, even if it’s only for a split second, helps us to be able to go forth with understanding. We react because we love our kids and partners, if we hold that above hurt, we always know what to do next.

    1. “We react because we love our kids and partners, if we hold that above hurt, we always know what to do next.” This is a beautiful way to put things into perspective, reminding us how big we often make one situation/incident whilst forgetting, or almost negating, everything else there is.

  13. There are so many stories we can go into when we let hurts dictate our communication. This is a beautiful unraveling of how there is another way, a way of observing, and in particular observing oneself, which brings us understanding and a much clearer view on what is going on.

  14. A gorgeous sharing of the deepening relationship between you and your son and the openness to be truly seen and heard for who you both truly are, “Inspired by the body’s wisdom to continuously feel and express deeper in commitment to observing, understanding and not absorbing life. ” thank you Anonymous.

  15. Simply accepting someone makes a huge difference to our relationship I agree, to not feel judged and imposed on by expectations is very freeing, ‘This deeper connection between us developed with understanding and acceptance of each other’.

  16. In every situation, no matter what it is, we have an opportunity to learn something more about ourselves and others. This does not happen when we are in reaction, for we become consumed by the situation in hand and sometimes it feels like there is no way out from this, so we may lash out for relief of the the built up tension. But that is all that is a relief. The reaction is still there. The question I have here is so what are we not wanting to see or learn that we are making through out reactions?

  17. Beautiful how your son chose and felt safe to communicate and express so honestly with yourself, and how your relationship deepened, ‘we chose to express without reaction. Immediately with our choice to communicate in this way, our connection deepened even more.’

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