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

912 thoughts on “Being an Observer

  1. Observation is essential for our health and well-being. When we take on emotion and get attached to any situation we are also drinking the poison of another.

  2. “It was by being present and being honest about my hurts that I found I could return to being observant by choice.” – This helps me realise how when we hide or suppress our hurts, they actually bubble up in other interactions as reactions or over-sensitivities to things, thus limiting any ability to stay present and read situations to gain more understanding.

  3. “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.” – This is such a great point to make as the investments in things going or our development unfolding in a certain way sets us up for an inevitable disappointment when life does not match the picture, and thus the reactions commence and pull us further away from our innate stillness and love.

  4. When we don’t observe we end up absorbing and taking on things that are not us and that is very harmful. An obvious example is when we are feeling good in ourselves and then have a conversation with a very angry or sad person and afterwards don’t feel so good anymore. Over time this can build up more and more and cause problems to our bodies, relationships and well-being. Observation is a counter to absorbing and is healing for all concerned.

  5. The ability to be honest and bring up our hurts and issues in our conversations is so important for our healing process otherwise they just get buried or haunt us all the more.

  6. What is so powerful about staying the observer during difficult or challenging interactions with people is how when we do that and the other person or people are in a lot of emotional reaction to a situation it immediately allows the other person to become more settled and centred themselves, and therefore more able to read the situation for themselves and perhaps how it began, or what is to be learnt from it.

  7. “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.” As this is not the way we are brought up it takes practice to observe and not react, yet is never too late to learn.

  8. Communication without reaction or judgement is the way to understand and build deeper relationships with others.

  9. ” 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. ”
    This is wonderful and there is great trust and allowing when a child can do this with a parent.

  10. We all know that there is much more to life that what we sense with our 5 senses, we can feel it. But we reduce what we feel and know in many ways, one of which is through reaction. In reaction we loose our peripheral vision and become tunnelled and see only what is directly in front of us because it becomes about the hurt. When we are truly observing we automatically have 360 degree vision and we are able to feel the energetic undercurrent to what is occurring and realise that whatever is happening is never personal. Its like whatever is said simply washes over us and is not able to attach itself. There is always a much broader outplay at play.

    1. And as it becomes about the hurt so we go into survival mode and the fight/flight mechanism is activated and we are in defence. So when that happens it is no wonder we go into tunnel vision, as you so clearly share Jennifer.

  11. Being honest is a very powerful start to being truthful. And being the observer depends upon these tools. It is time for the whole human race to begin to see the games being played – games that do not belong to the realm of truth and beauty. What an old and separate game we have been indulging in. But once we consent to observe these games are exposed.

  12. I appreciate how choosing to observe the situations around me is very freeing and the more I learn to observe the more aware I am to understand what is truly going on without bringing in judgement and criticism with myself and with others.

  13. What a powerful tool of re-connection is offered from non judgmental remaining open to others and giving them the space to express themselves.
    “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.””

  14. It is great when we can observe and not take on and react to another’s choices. It is a tricky one for me to really embrace as it requires more responsibility and it is super easy running around reacting and lots of energy is generated which is exciting. Observing and being responsible however unlock true joy and this doesn’t have the same appeal to the spirit!

  15. There is so much to learn from the body’s communication “When we are willing to observe, we are willing to develop a relationship with the world that has no judgement in it.” Those judgments can be so deeply embedded that we can be unaware they are moving us. Building the relationship with the body brings out the awareness of what lies below our movements and expression.

      1. To get that the energy comes before the thought or the movement is something that has to be observed and discovered by observation rather than knowledge. It is quite remarkable to see what puppets we are – I was about to say sometimes…but … I can see it is all the time.

  16. Observing life and others is fascinating. So often I find myself wanting to jump and fix things for others, say the right words essentially alleviate the situation but this often changes nothing. What I am finding is the more I simply am myself without any words needed the more I allow people to be and they naturally make the more loving choices. I also find I then get to see what is being triggered in myself and so can address it rather than giving more importance to helping others, which a lot of the time is a distraction away from being with myself.

  17. There is true love and power in learning to observe the situations around us and allow the space for others to simply be themselves without them feeling imposed upon nor pressured to try to be anything they are not – simply accepted for who they are. The more willing we are to observe the more understanding we are to connect and accept each other from our essence first.

  18. A pause to simply observe and BE present with our own breath, is a powerful and true antidote to getting hooked into reactions, which only serve to create more emotional energy circulating around and around into a cycle of blame and abuse.
    PAUSE – OBSERVE – BREATHE & BE

  19. Again was presented with something that my human spirit classified as ‘outrageous’ and I was so tempted to explode. But a moment of ‘ observe and come back’ worked very powerfully as I saw the hook there to make me crash, as well as the hook of indulgence to react on my part, and I brought in the tool of true ‘sacrifice’ which the Bhagavad Gita talks about. This is the first time I have truly felt the meaning of the word sacrifice in all its power – not in its bastardised usage.

    1. Very inspiring Lyndy and much appreciated – a deeper sense and understanding of the true meaning of ‘sacrifice’

      1. Yes Stephanie – I am only coming to realise the beauty of that word ‘sacrifice’ and its true meaning. The older more familiar meaning to me was tainted with martyrdom and I couldn’t stand that whole charade. The sacrifice is simply saying ‘yes’ to truth and simplicity.

  20. ‘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’. I am learning to observe, and let go of my old pattern that took me into reaction and therefore preventing me from reading the situation clearly and then knowing what to do, and sometimes that may be nothing.

  21. A beautiful example of how we are constantly offered the next teaching – one that we can accept and allow to support the deepening of our love or one we can resist and temporarily cause delay.

    1. When the next teaching comes, we may not feel always ready, but we have been prepared, and as long as we don’t react, we will find all the support we need is there, right down to the ‘detail’, and over that bump we go…

      1. Thank you jacqmcfadden04 we have been prepared, this is true. We do know what to do and not reacting is the first step, that is staying true to ourselves, connected to the love that we have for ourselves.

  22. True and beautiful what is possible when we do not react but observe what is going and what is going on for us.. To act from there is a much wiser choice and one that will support us to go deeper, heal and let go..

    1. It sure is a much wiser choice and all it can take is a moment to almost sit back, gain a clear understanding and then speak, if words are needed. So often I find when I am bursting with words to say usually they are coming from me reacting and wanting to sort things out rather than allowing them to be.

  23. Observing oneself and one’s own reactions is certainly an education! I found myself reacting angrily the other day to someone manipulating me with ‘nice’ and with perfection ideals, and it it made me feel like exploding because it was so sneaky and I momentarily fell for it (was fooled1) – but what a judgment that was on my part when observed it all. I know that there is no right or wrong and that to perpetuate that and react angrily only undermines my health and the health of those around me. I just have to observe and express.

  24. Something was said to me the other day which I found to be quite hurtful. But I stayed with the feeling of being hurt and could feel the energy coming from the other person was not them but they had allowed an energy to come through them. Feeling the energy first and understanding that it is trying to destabilize me to keep me small and in my place is a huge step forward in my awareness of life and how it plays out.

  25. “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.” This is true health and wellbeing lived in the world.

  26. Expressing with respect and decency has the tendency to allow an openness to develop like you and your son are sharing. So then when we take away the emotions that usually run our lives we are open to a Truly-Loving-Relationships that flourishes.

  27. Being an observer has huge benefits, mainly healthwise as we do not take on another’s emotional stuff, but also we are able to read more clearly which always brings understanding and seeing the bigger picture.

  28. I have to say that being an observer, for me, is possibly the most important step to commit to in life – too often we are swayed by the reaction, the drama, the hurt, instead of observing these imposters who have taken over and peopled our lives, bringing calamity, damage, and a surety that we will not be connected to our magnificence.

  29. A beautiful sharing of how a relationship between mother and son, which can normally be quite tense, has so much openness and honouring which allows each to express honestly without holding back without having fear of a put down or rejection coming back. All relationships are a reflection of how we are with ourselves.

  30. There is such a freeing element to the body when we observe and a level of understanding and respect offered to another that holds the space rather than imposes on another’s right to express from the lived truth.

  31. The power of observation can never be underestimated, it offers someone the space to feel safe to express what it is they need to express , as beautifully illustrated by how your son opened up and told you exactly why he didn’t go into his music class. I wonder if he would have expressed this with the honesty he did if you had gone straight into the reaction without stopping to feel the situation.

  32. The fiction of life is something we all share. The dramas, the fights, the intrigue, the struggles, fill the space and distract us from truth. But why settle for a cheap paperback of complications when you can read the grand tome of Love? Thank you Anonymous for your observations.

  33. What a beautiful education you are bringing to your son Anonymous. This opening for a deeper relationship breaks all the old consciousnesses (i.e. mistakes!) that parents have been inflicting upon their children for aeons. How beautiful not to demand that he conform to an image but to keep the communication open and respectful and loving.

  34. The power of observation is that we are impulsed to respond and walk with true and love, free from reacting with emotion, as such offering evolution and reflecting the truth of our innate beingness. The more I allow myself to observe the greater the awareness I have and as a result the more truth, honesty and value I bring to all my relationships.

  35. I absolutely love reading this blog, because it reminds me just how simple it is when we observe our behaviours and feelings as well as others rather than ingesting them in our bodies.

    1. I agree Elodie. we are far freer to walk the truth when we observe everything, ourselves and others, otherwise what we are walking is not a true reflection of who we are, and in fact a reduction, which does feel horrible in the body.

  36. The discipline to observe rather than react is an ever developing path. In the observing of a situation, the reaction may still appear, but from there the internal observation allows the evolution.

  37. The stringent belief that there is a right and wrong thing in every situation is a huge prison. ‘Everything was going great until X happened’ we bemoan, but that is to overlook the absolute perfection of that incident occurring to us – it’s there for a definite reason. Observing means being willing to receive and comprehend these reflections. Thank you Anonymous for yours today.

  38. Going into reaction is a choice, as is choosing not to react and instead observing the truth of what a situation is truly offering us to learn and evolve from. The more we are open, the more awareness we build to understand what is beneath the surface.

  39. How beautiful it is to be able to observe life and not absorb life and see the learning unfold before our very eyes. Simply awesome.

  40. ‘… In essence, speaking in reaction like this is our unwillingness to admit that we are hurt.’ This is what I have noticed recently, when I express from reaction it comes from a deep hurt I have not let go of. This then stops the other person from opening up or evolving.

  41. Being an observer of life affords us the opportunity to be present without judgement or reaction with what is occurring around us, thereby contributing to an outcome that is best for all concerned.

  42. I love what you say here and find it very inspirational as it is so easy to let our minds rule what we feel instead of going into the body and surrender to what we truly feel underneath the old pattern of reaction out of hurt.

  43. Reacting is choosing an insignificant point over the whole. Parallel to our turning a point into the whole, we jump straight into a hole from where we lose sight of everything that is true. So, in truth, reaction is only a vacation away from responsibility we have regarding the whole in the name of something we choose as alibi.

  44. Our observing is our golden key to understanding life and cycles. To become more real and aware of why things are the way they are and what they have to do with us. Hence, because of this awareness we then have a simply space to turn the tide around and re-imprint, re-imprint our world with our choices that come from more connection (fire of our Soul). It is here we can individually make changes that will effect our whole, in a good way.

  45. Through observing life we have the space to read the bigger picture of what is occurring in and around us, thereby allowing us to respond with understanding and compassion for all concerned.

  46. Having an expectation and a timeframe on myself, others or a situation isn’t observing as I am focused on a perception, a picture of what I want life to be thats static. Observing is far more enjoyable as holding onto perceptions of myself/the world makes me feel really miserable and closed off from others.

  47. One of my favourite things to do is sit by a dock, train station or airport and watch all the people go by. Or to sit by a hill and watch the birds fly and sun set. I realise now it’s not the picturesque part that tickles me so much but the fact that I simply observe what transpires without reaction that brings me pleasure. Your words remind me Anonymous that this is easily possible in the rest of my life as long as I am not tempted to indulge in being in the drama of the ‘ups and downs’ we are addicted to running with as a human race.

  48. When we observe we allow another space, in this space we hold another in their essence and not in judgment of the actions. From this point they get to learn, evolve and feel they are love first and foremost.

  49. Observation is the greatest gift we can give our children because through it comes understanding and thus the space needed for the other person to be held in love and not let go of or imposed upon by an investment that they have to be, act or think a certain way.

    1. Observation is also a great gift we can give to ourselves. It is nearly Christmas, just imagine if Santa gave everyone a sack full of observation this year how much more festive the season would be 😉

      1. Haha – yes true. Metaphorically speaking perhaps all we need do is observe the packages we are given and discern whether the contents therein feel true or not…

  50. ” 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. ” This is so wise and clear on what true observation is , how wonderful for your son.

  51. Our relationships can only deepen if we allow ourselves to let go of judgement and instead openly share how we feel in the willingness to see the behaviours that we are perpetuating that keep us away from love.

  52. I love how clearly you show that communicating with a reaction is just an unwillingness to admit you felt hurt. This one spec of wisdom has the potential power to change all human relationships, amazing. The example you offered to inspire others of it’s ability to do it’s magic was perfect. The tension that can be present when issues arise with our children is so real and something most parents have experienced if not live with 24/7. Enjoy exploring the depths/tenderness your son and yourself will discover together…..

  53. This blog makes it super clear just how much emotion clouds our perception and hence does not allow any true understanding to be.

  54. It is very true that we have normalised communicating and expressing from our reactions. This makes me question, perhaps this is why so many people I know are experiencing relationship issues. So, if we learn to observe instead of reacting to situations and people, how would this change our life and the quality of our relationships? I’d say the change would be massive, we would be able to respond, communicate and express more harmoniously and more lovingly without judgement, frustration, anger etc.

  55. What a beautiful sharing anon of what is possible when we observe and give ourselves the space needed to understand a situation without reacting to it.

  56. 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.’

  57. 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?

  58. 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’.

  59. 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.

  60. 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.

  61. 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.

  62. 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.

  63. 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.

  64. “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.

  65. 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.

  66. 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.

  67. 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.

  68. 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.

  69. 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.

  70. 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.

  71. ”… 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.

    1. When we do not reflect on the how and why we set ourselves just one degree off our course of evolution that over time leaves us lost from ourselves. Hense our responsibility to nail when first felt, why it happens.

  72. 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.’

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