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

999 thoughts on “Being an Observer

  1. We are in a very odd place in the world when we all relate to each other via pictures, expectations and investments in how we want others to act and be – it’s something to deeply question as to why we are like this. We are not born as babies relating to others by pictures, instead we are deeply aware and sensitive to everything and everyone around us and connected to our essence which we share with joy. To me it seems that the systems we have in place, including the education system, develop human beings away from how we are born, into something else which is quite painful and confusing at times, and is in disconnection to self and others.

  2. Relearning to respond in life delivers the ability to be the observer, or being able to be in observation allows us the ability to respond, and both give us the space to feel what is required in a situation.

  3. We live in a way that we are in constant reaction to life and this does place a huge stress on our nervous system. So is it possible this is why we rely so much on coffee as a drug that keeps us stimulated because if we stopped to feel the exhaustion we would all be in bed for days. There can be no deeper understanding of life when we are in constant reaction.

  4. Taking a step back from our reactions and expressing what we feel/felt is super supportive of us moving past the situation. If we don’t and speak from reaction we stay in the hurtful experience.

  5. It was a great point about staying with your feelings and going deeper into them, instead of reacting or avoiding feeling them. Reactions often assume a picture or outcome that brings on even more emotion. “It was by being present and being honest about my hurts that I found I could return to being observant by choice.”

  6. Being willing to understand is so vital in relationships. Also, if we are not meeting and valuing the essence of the person and ourselves we are more likely to view others as something to fit into a picture and make demands on their behaviour. In simple terms, without being the love we are and honouring others as that same love, regardless of whether they are living that love or not, it is likely that we will be imposing.

  7. When in the company of another, it pays to sit, listen and observe. What do we do when views are expressed different to our own? Can we accept what is real for that person, yet offer another view or ask questions to deepen understanding? Sometimes the only true support is to listen and allow another to express openly their feelings with minimal interference from us.

  8. When someone reacts to something we’ve said or done, we’re offered an opportunity to understand the purpose of the communication for self and other. It is not for us to not reply in the same quality of energy received, but respond in a way that is not personal but infused with the wisdom and love of the Soul. This requires self awareness and ability to be the observer.

  9. The observer offers space to another. If we’re not observing, we’ve entered ‘their’ space with judgement, reaction or hurt and no longer able to see them cleanly and fully or offer support. Wherever we are, be aware of what we’re modelling to others.

  10. This is an amazing blog. I’ve been reacting a fair bit this last week and uncovered the hurts that have been there to let go of. Observation at any juncture along the way has felt super loving and supportive – even in the midst of a reaction I’ve taken space to actually feel what’s going on and appreciated the old hurts I’d been harbouring and trying to explain away through intellectual understanding. Observation is physical experience of love.

  11. Taking out the judgement in our relationships leaves space for a more honest conversation to come through. Thank you for sharing Anonymous.

  12. If we were all able to be the observer, as you were in this situation, I am sure that there would be so much less tension, frustration, anger, etc in this world. But sadly, we are not raised to be so and instead we tend to react before we even understand the situation that has presented itself, and that reaction once fueled by emotions can have some pretty serious outcomes. Being the observer adds a whole new dimension to life and how we live it.

  13. I realised when writing my previous comment that what you have written here is very true
    “…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.”
    We live in a soup of energy and there are as we know only two energies to choose from. One energy I feel doesn’t want anyone to feel safe enough to trust ourselves or each other and so this keeps us all in perpetual discomfort, unease and nervous tension. And the other energy that supports us to trust ourselves and this opens us up to building relationships with ourselves and each other on a much deeper level. I know which energy I would prefer to live in and with.

  14. I feel from personal experience that the more we can surrender to trusting ourselves more deeply the more we are able to let go of the picture, ideals, and belief systems we hang onto. I feel that there is a deep lack of trust in the world of ourselves and other people which is why I feel there is so much unrest and nervous tension, so my question would have to be why do we continue to live in a way that produces so much nervous tension in our lives?

  15. It is a significant point that you 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” – this is the reflection of ‘normal’ we tend to get throughout society, so it is a precious gift we give one another when we choose to step out of that way of reacting and instead observe, understand and appreciate each other.

  16. I remember when I was school age often finding holidays long and saying “I’m bored.” Children nowadays have their screens of course. But the result is the same – not wanting to feel the stillness that lies within. I still catch myself wanting to keep busy, rather than feel that, which is exquisitely beautiful. Observing this brings me back to me, as long as I don’t give myself – or others – a hard time.

  17. “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.” So true Anon. When we observe ( which of course means without judgement) things can also change without us saying anything.

  18. Love this fantastic reminder we can always choose how we communicate either with love and understanding or without it. When we express without it we can not then wonder why we got the reaction we got.

  19. The power of observation is immense. It offers us the clearest snapshot of what is unfolding in front of us, allowing us to take in every detail and every nuance, and in doing so, offers us an opportunity to deepen our understanding about our fellow man and life.

  20. I spent over an hour just observing people at an public event and it was for me a great lesson in just allowing myself to feel without reaction or judgement my surroundings.
    I felt that we want to be distracted by anything food, drink, conversation, music, activity it was as though people allowed themselves a release of pressure and stress from life in much the same way that someone deliberately cuts themselves to release a tension they feel in their body for just a faction of time it is a relief until the tension builds again and then they cut themselves again. We fill our lives with momentary relief rather than asking the question why are we all seeking a relief from life?

  21. I have noticed since the November presentation and workshops of Serge Benhayon how I am much more able to observe and in the observation is the understanding that life doesn’t have to fit a picture or an ideal that I have set up in my mind. This is very freeing actually to just allow and let be.

    1. It’s those pictures we carry with us which stop us from seeing what is actually in front of us – it is if we are looking at the world through very dirty glasses. So, it follows that when we can dismantle those illusionary pictures we are then free to see what, in truth, we are being shown.

  22. I have been noticing how easily I go into frustration and judgement with a member of my family. Every time I get triggered my reactions are pretty yuk. I have found when I simply observe the behaviour and be open to embrace a deeper understanding, then there is no reaction and the response is very beautiful from both of us.

  23. Such a great sharing offered here… when we are honest about our hurts and begin to heal them this opens up the space for deeper relationships with everyone.

  24. I can relate to both ways of being with your son. I’ve been doing something similar with my sons. When I react there is very little openness and honesty but when I’m not invested in them doing something or not, then they open up so easily. Observing allows everyone to have space to come to what is right for them in their own time.

  25. To start to pay attention to one’s own body and what we’re feeling, is to start to notice the extent to which we react.

    1. So true Bryony, sometimes I feel I am already in reaction and my body feels tensed before I even interact with people. If I ignore these feelings and get on with my day, my relationship with people tend to be awful but if I take responsibility, listen to my body and clear the tension then I am more able to be myself around others.

  26. How to truly observe and not react is a huge lesson in it self and there are so many of these life lessons that we don’t get taught when we are young and I wonder why it is that we put more emphasis on learning our times table than learning how to interact with one another with decency and respect.

  27. Responding without reacting is an amazing feeling, especially when both parties do the same and so much healing can occur.

  28. Learning to not react is an essential key to living a true and joyful life. When we react we merge with whatever we are reacting to which then allows no space to feel what is going on and how we may be able to deal with it.

    1. “When we react we merge with whatever we are reacting to ” Insightful Elizabeth. Trapped on the same sticky tape, becoming the very ‘thing’ that upset or angered us, dis-empowers us from responding with love and detachment.

  29. So take any situation in life, we have one or two ways to go – we can get caught up in it, want to change it and get super frustrated that it is not the way we want it to be – or it is perfect and spot on – but how often do we give ourselves the space to observe it and get the understanding of why every situation so-called “good or bad” is occurring, the more we do that, the greater I’ve come to enjoy life as it starts to make sense. Without true observation, life makes little sense.

  30. Being an observer. A lesson for us all. I could feel that by you observing just how much this changed the situation and deepened the communication and intimacy with you and your son.

  31. The power of observation is hugely underestimated by most people because most don’t know that it has the ability to set us free from the chains that bind us from all sorts of beliefs and ideals that we might carry.

  32. When I observe my feelings, which is to feel them rather than following a mental commentary. Feelings of hurt tend to be more openly expressed as they are allowed to clear. This also lets others separate who they are from their hurts, which are not one and the same.

  33. The wealth that is offered to us all when we choose to be the observer in life brings in lessons for us to learn about ourselves and how we live and contribute to the world – allowing observation without perfection.

  34. We have so many ideals and beliefs around what happens when we feel hurt. Today I noticed in myself a feeling of ‘never being able to get over it’ and ‘my whole day will be governed by this’. Yet as you share by observing and feeling what I am feeling in my body this does not need to be my reality.

  35. When we react to something it can set up a chain of other reactions, like a domino effect, so staying steady, as you did,allows for us to stay present with what is really going on and not get swept away by our thoughts or emotions.

  36. ‘It was by being present and being honest about my hurts that I found I could return to being observant by choice.’ I’m realising running away from feelings whatever it is I’m feeling in whatever moment allows me the grace of observation.

  37. It is revealing to observe where and when we react to something and how key this is to understanding where we still hold attachments or expectations that people or the world need be different.

  38. ‘Inspired by the body’s wisdom to continuously feel and express deeper in commitment to observing, understanding and not absorbing life.’ Yes this completely changes the quality of our experiences.

  39. To observe and not absorb life has been one of the most powerful lessons of my lifetime and a key to arresting anxious, stress-full and reactive responses to certain situations. This has led to a far greater settlement in my body that has not only allowed me to experience more confidence, joy and love but also to realise that reaction is an addiction I can indulge in that affords me an excuse to hold back my love, care and genuine understanding of others.

  40. If we project our own needs or issues onto someone else then asking a question like, “how are you” or “what’s going on” comes loaded and can cause the other person to shut down massively. If we are wanting to provide support for another person then we have a responsibility to not project onto them and being open to genuinely understand what they are feeling.

  41. A great reminder of how communicating without reaction or judgment opens up space for honesty and through that honesty we get to know what is truly going on, which in turn builds relationships to a deeper level where honesty becomes the norm.

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