Be a Witness to Your Experience
We sometimes go through our days just reacting to our environment without putting much thought into it. Even when we stop and say, "Hmm, let me think about this for a minute," we are still submerged in our assumptions and core beliefs.
I once heard that going through your day without thinking about your thinking, is just like sitting in a car, foot on the gas, and hands tied behind your back. We would never do this! However if we accept the thoughts we have without asking if they are based on facts, are healthy, or help us reach a goal, then we are doing the same thing.
One of the problems with thoughts is that our brain does not know if they are true or helpful. How many times have you been 100% certain of something, and later found out you were wrong? Sometimes we are wrong and hold onto false and unhealthy beliefs, without any awareness of it. We cannot think outside our own mind, but we can tune into the process by striving to be a witness to our experience.
Being a witness to your experience, means you are taking a helicopter view of whatever is going on in your mind instead of being immersed in it, running on automatic, unaware. Taking a helicopter view is the difference between being overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions, and being aware of having these thoughts and emotions. Being aware helps us distance ourselves enough to question and ask if these thoughts are worth having. This is the first step in managing them, or in putting your hands on the wheel of your life instead of being a passenger.
It may seem strange at first, but you can start by closing your eyes, and asking yourself, "What am I thinking? What am I feeling?" You may be surprised at what comes to mind. You may discover that you're mad at yourself or someone else for making a mistake. When you are aware of this, you can decide to be forgiving and kind.
Once you are aware of what is going on in your mind, you can start to challenge unhealthy and untrue thoughts. You can find new and healthier ways to look at things, becoming a witness to your experience, more aware of your perspective, and more in control of whatever is going on in your mind.
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Marsha Mandel, LMHC