How to use your Observing Self resource to stay well

by Jo Flack | 30 Apr 2020

Jo Flack, Trainer of The Mental Health Toolkit by Suffolk Mind, explains how to use your Observing Self resource to help you stay well.

When it comes to meeting our emotional needs we, as human beings, have a resource that, as far as we are aware, no other creature has. It is the ability to reflect on our thinking self, our emotional self and our physical self as if we were outside these; to step outside ourselves and view ourselves in a more objective way. We have been given the observing self, an ability to be aware of our feelings, thoughts and emotions at one remove.

This resource helps us to develop ourselves and become something more than we are at the present moment.

If we find ourselves in the grip of strong emotions, we tend to focus attention inwards, towards what we are feeling and, in doing this, we lose the broader context and perspective. By bringing the observing self on-line, we can broaden the perspective of our experiences. The observing self can bring calmness and clarity by allowing us to step out of our problems and recognise that we are more than, and separate from, them.

So how can we access this resource and use it to help us get our emotional needs well met?

  1. Firstly, in order to access the observing self, you need to feel reasonably relaxed and allow yourself some privacy and head-space for reflection.
  2. Take the time to listen to your emotions; they are a guide to how you are feeling and give you the motivation to make positive changes to get your needs met.
  3. Listen to the needs of your body too. Ensure you are meeting your physical needs for sleep, movement, food and drink.
  4. Pause to reflect on your achievements and take time to recognise things that are going well.
  5. Do things intentionally – rather than letting one day of day-time TV or box sets merge into the next, deliberately plan activities to meet your needs and keep you well.
  6. Maybe try keeping a journal. This will enable you to reflect, get a little distance from any problems and help you observe the positive things that may be happening.
  7. Use the observations you have about your own thoughts and feelings to tune into how others may be feeling and use that empathy to support other people. Helping others is good for our own wellbeing too.
  8. And finally, practise some self-empathy. Try talking to yourself with kindness and acceptance as you would talk to a friend or loved one.
by Jo Flack
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