The Observer Self
At all times, your mind is producing thoughts. The fact you can report what those thoughts are indicates an additional type of awareness of them. That is to say: there’s the thinking you, and the observing you, simultaneously present. This is often referred to as “the observer self.”
The observer self is a key concept in a kind of psychotherapy called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (or ACT for short). If you’re interested in learning more about ACT, click here. The observer self is critical to feeling, thinking, and choosing (in that order!). We need our observer self to speak up – to keep us informed. We’re going to focus on learning how to listen to this voice.
What is the voice in your head telling you? Become an observer; make a practice of listening to your observer self. Is what you’re hearing true? Is it helpful? Healthy? Compassionate?
Once you’ve turned up the volume of your “observer self,” the next step is to carefully consider the message you hear. It’s important not just to hear, but also to be curious! It’s equally important to refrain from being judgmental about it. There are lots of mental “quality assurance tests” we can run on the information provided by the observer self. We’re going to want to make sure it’s reliable. We’ll be talking more about this later in the course. With some practice, asking yourself (in a kind and patient way!) “Wait, what did you just say?” will become second nature. Now, let’s shift our attention to the content of our thoughts.