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Day 55: Taking the position of observer

December 8, 2023

We aren’t our thoughts. We think our thoughts.

We aren’t our feelings. We feel our feelings.

On paper – or, more accurately, on screen – this makes sense but in reality, it doesn’t feel that way.

What does this have to do with joy?

Thoughts about “can or can’t”…”should or shouldn’t”, “good or bad”…they have defined me and created the walls within which I live, the framework for my self judgement and the judgements I pretend I don’t levy on others…because, of course, we shouldn’t be judgemental!

This morning I listened back to my conversation with Tess Vergara and this time, the word “distortion” popped out at me – how our thoughts and feelings can be distortions that block us from the path to joyful living.

At the end of the podcast, when Tess was explaining her 90-day Journey back to Joy free download, she talked about how some people might come to one of the activities and balk at it, but she said this reaction was the perfect time to uncover possible “distortions” in our thinking or emotional patterns.

To do this, we have to put ourselves into the role of observer – the powerful vantage point from which we can see that our thoughts are choices rather than facts, and that we have options about what to do with those thoughts.

When I’ve been able to step into the role of observer, I’ve found it to be a really liberating and empowering place to be – but I’m not always able to get there. Sometimes my emotions are too strong and the waves they produce knock me out of the observer’s seat.

But what the conversation with Tess showed me is that I can return to the observer’s seat at any time in order to make sense of those massive emotional waves. I don’t have to do it when I’m overwhelmed. I can do it when the storm has passed – and that failure to climb up into that seat once the storm is over is a sure fire way to welcome the same storm back another time and just give it a different name.

Something else she said that stuck with me – Joy isn’t something we quest for, it’s something we allow – but paradoxically, it feels to me that prior to allowing, there must be a quest to find and knock down the walls that form our distortions. Once the walls are down, the allowance can happen but the first part involves some effort and more than a little curiosity and compassion.

Though I guess that’s part of it too – how would we develop the kind of compassion we need for others in order to release judgements and create a greater sense of belonging unless we’ve done all that for ourselves in the first place. So perhaps the quest is part of the allowing anyway – it’s just the skill development phase.

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