How to be a good observer

Self-awareness is a trait of any good leader. Being a good leader requires being a good observer. Being a good observer is more than just self-awareness. Observing oneself is essential, but observing others provides another angle to absorb. Together, observing self and others creates richer insights to use.

Why does being a good observer matter?

Life and work are a blur, speeding by as we try to keep all the right thiHow to be a good observerngs spinning at the right pace. Getting the balance right is good enough but good enough does not enable us to entangle our life work in a real, purposeful way. Being dizzy does not produce lasting results.

Being a good observer enables us to take a step back and peer into ourselves and others. Just looking produces nothing. Observing produces insights when we assess for patterns, styles, and results. Why observing matters is centered here – discerning patterns, styles, and results.

Before diving into patterns, styles, and results, let’s step back for context. We can observe many things, from nature to traffic to storms to just about anything. What we observe in the out-of-the-ordinary may produce a moment of wonder that we can apply. However, in our daily rummage, the things closest to us may produce the most relevant and meaningful observations. The key is to take the time to step back and piece together our puzzle. Being a good observer begins here.

Observing Unboxed

The things closest to us to observe can be broken down into a simple two by two, consisting of work and life and self and others. I would argue most of our daily interactions happen here. The goal is not to constrain our observations but to understand the interesting habits with the elements closest to us.

How to be a good observer

When we look at ourselves, we participate at least 8 hours a day in a work environment. We spend the other 16 hours in a life environment.

In the “Self” column, we are a colleague or partner. Our work environment provides a stage in which we interact with others to accomplish tasks, projects, and initiatives. Our life environment provides an arena in which we build relationships to help each other or take on other interests that develop us as good human beings.

Moving to the “Others” column, our work and life environments contain many characters and stories. We can see how others collaborate in their workplaces. We can see how others are citizens in their communities.

Within each place and orientation, we observe the good and bad. We can observe what we do well and not so well. We can observe what others do well and not so well. Each delivers a meaningful learning moment if we take the time to observe, consider, and act. Acting from observations is changing our habits to be a better person. Emerging from our observational boxes is what type of leader we are and want to become.

Observing alone is just looking out the window. Observing, deciding what is learned, and then acting in a better-aware way are keys to being a more rounded leader. The window we are peering through reflects back into the window of our soul. From here, our wheels of inspiration and aspiration turn in a positive way.

Being an observer within each area delivers a generous view in which we can see patterns, styles, and results.

Observer of Patterns, Styles, and Results

Why being a good observer is important moves to patterns, styles, and results. Within each, we learn and lead in a better-aware manner. After all, self-aware is just one part of the formula. The other part contains being aware of others. Together, better-aware emerges as the new standard. The formula: Self-Aware + Other-Aware = Better-Aware. Just wanted to clarify my terms.

Patterns are what connections we can make with behaviors, actions, inactions, conversations, thoughts, etc. Patterns are connection points we make, seeing a bigger picture or direction that is negative or positive.

How to be a good observerStyles are what behaviors and approaches we detect that sets an individual apart from others. What sets someone apart can be positive behaviors, methods, and attitudes or negative behaviors, methods, and attitudes. The good and the bad produce insights of what we should do and what we should avoid.

Results are outcomes. Some are successful in meaningful ways. Some are unsuccessful in many ways. Tying patterns and styles together with results enable us to determine what our patterns and styles should be to get our best life and work results.

Questions we need to answer across the spectrum include:

  • What works?
  • What does not work?
  • What gets us in trouble?
  • What gets others sidetracked?
  • What facilitates short-term success?
  • What enables sustainable, meaningful success?
  • How is success defined?
  • What guides careers in meaningful ways?
  • What makes conversations energizing?
  • What does a good listener do?
  • What are the results of being self-centered?
  • What are the results of giving more than taking?
  • What makes relationships work?
  • What tears relationships apart?
  • Am I loving?
  • Can I receive love?
  • What will I tolerate?
  • What makes some intolerant?
  • What makes some intolerable?

More questions will develop as we observe more.

The answers fill in the gaps and enliven an observer to gain the most of what they see, hear, and sense. What we gain as an observer is a stronger heart. More than strength, we gain an open heart. An open heart is a strong one, and it is one in which we strive to be a better person and leader.

Why does being a good observer matter? It matters because observing well creates better lessons for us to embrace and put into action. Being a good observer translates into being an empathetic leader, one who adapts and creates a legacy others may remember.

Does being a good observer matter? If it does, what enables someone to be a good observer and what do they gain by being one?

If you’re a CLASS observer, you’ve probably found yourself in a situation where you have to make inferences or rely on contextual evidence when assigning scores. However, it should always be your goal to minimize subjectivity and assumptions. You have to prevent your emotions, opinions, and ideas that are not a part of the CLASS tool from influencing scoring. Achieving an emotionless state of objectivity while observing can be incredibly challenging. It takes practice to recognize when objectivity is threatened and respond accordingly.

1. Observer Relationships

One of the most common threats to objectivity is the observer’s relationship with or previous knowledge about the teacher being observed. This is particularly salient for administrators who are observing teachers whom they know well and have worked with extensively.

It can be very challenging to conduct an observation without taking into consideration the known strengths and weaknesses or common practices of a teacher. Many an administrator has had a thought such as, “Well, I didn’t observe Mr. Clark to provide scaffolding or specific feedback, but I know he does that all the time, so I’ll just bump this Quality of Feedback score up a little to be more accurate.”

While understandable, this line of thinking is contradictory to one of the fundamentals of the CLASS—that scores for an observation are based only on evidence observed during the cycle being scored. It may be helpful in this situation to consider that every cycle of observation is a “snapshot” of the classroom environment. We don’t expect to see everything a teacher ever does in each twenty-minute cycle. CLASS scores must reflect the observed evidence from start to finish of the cycle, and nothing else.

2. Prior Knowledge

Another challenge to objectivity is prior knowledge of teaching in general, such as best practices for a certain activity or lesson, or content-specific knowledge such as literacy skills practice or math instruction. The CLASS tool is extensively research-based, and attempts to comprehensively capture the types of interactions that lead to learning and student success.

However, there are elements of teaching that the CLASS tool might not always capture, like some aspects of lesson planning, fidelity to a curriculum, or adherence to school or district policies. An observer must do their best to set aside knowledge and ideas about teaching that are not a part of the CLASS tool in order to reliably score.

Once an observation and scoring are complete and it’s time to do something with the data, such as have a coaching conversation, then all knowledge is back on the table, and an observer/coach should use every piece of information they can to help the teacher improve.

3. Empathy

One final adversary of objectivity is a simple human emotion: empathy. An observer who has experienced all the challenges of teaching, from forgetting coffee in the morning and being a bit short with a student, to struggling to calm a difficult and upset child, is likely to emotionally connect with the plight of the educator being observed.

This empathic connection can make it difficult to “ding” or “mark down” a score, because it feels unfair or harsh to “penalize” a teacher for not doing something in one twenty-minute snapshot of teaching. The solution to this problem is a philosophical examination of the CLASS tool itself. A low score on any given dimension of the CLASS in one observation is not necessarily a negative thing, but merely a reflection of a lack of evidence.

We might not expect or want to see evidence of a particular dimension during a specific observation cycle in many different situations. For example, 20-minutes of independent reading time will likely result in very low scores for many CLASS dimensions, due to a lack of interactions and conversation. These low scores don’t depict anything negative about the teacher or classroom. If a similar lack of evidence is observed across multiple cycles, then there might be an issue that needs addressing.

Understanding that CLASS scores from one cycle of observation don’t tell the whole story of a teacher’s skill, that low scores merely reflect a lack of evidence in that cycle, and that only once we obtain multiple data points can we draw any significant conclusions can help an observer avoid an emotional resistance to assigning low scores.

Mentoring relationships are the bedrock on which much of higher education is built. Mentoring reflects a relationship between an experienced senior colleague (mentor) and a less experienced junior colleague or student (mentee), in which the mentor provides the mentee with resources, expertise, skills, and perspectives related to personal development and career advancement. The mentee is not a passive vessel into which the mentor pours knowledge but rather is a collaborator who actively engages in learning and critically reflects on experiences (Zachary & Fischler, 2009). Mentoring relationships can be formal (the relationship between a professor and student) or informal (the relationship between older and younger students or senior and junior faculty). This article will focus on the formal relationship between faculty mentors and graduate student development.

Every mentoring relationship evolves through the phases of initiation, cultivation, separation, and redefinition (Kram, 1988). In the initiation phase, the foundation for later phases is established, and the interaction between the mentor and mentee at this stage may play a key role in determining the quality and duration of the relationship. During graduate school, the mentor can help the mentee understand formal and informal policies of their institutions, help mentees successfully complete degree requirements, and pass on valuable skills and knowledge. If your relationship with your mentor is healthy throughout graduate school, then the separation and redefinition phases can be beneficial in helping you define your professional self after graduate school. Your mentor can help you navigate post-doc and job applications, interview preparations, and start-up package negotiations, as well as provide guidance in the early stages of your career.

It is clear that healthy mentor/mentee relationships are important. Then the questions follow: How can I be agood mentee? What can I do to make the most of my relationship with my mentor? Mentees who are less knowledgeable about how to maximize the benefits of mentoring relationships receive less mentoring and are less satisfied with their mentoring relationships than are mentees who are better skilled at this task (Allen & Poteet, 1999). Allen and Poteet gathered information about important elements for successful mentor/mentee relationships. This is a summary what they found:

1. Establish an open communication system with reciprocal feedback

2. Set standards, goals, and expectations

3. Establish trust

4. Care for and enjoy each other

5. Allow mistakes

6. Participate willingly

7. Demonstrate flexibility

8. Consider constraints to mentoring

9. Learn from others

10. Work on common tasks

11. Be open and comfortable

The first three elements are arguably the most important. Establishing open communication is important for the success of any relationship. Being able to be appropriately assertive and to speak about what you need or what is not working for you is important for your own development, and sharing with your mentor what is working and what is going well goes a long way in maintaining a positive relationship. Setting goals and expectations is crucial for the success of the relationship. As early in your relationship as you can, speak with your mentor about what s/he expects from you and what s/he expects to provide you. If those expectations do not line up with your needs, speak candidly about what else you might need.

Scheduling a regular one-on-one meeting time — weekly is great, but during slower times in your academic career, monthly works well — will structure your relationship and will allow you to feel comfortable knowing that you have undivided attention. Without regular meeting times, you may find it harder to make continual progress on goals, and it may be more difficult to complete degree requirements on time.
When you enter into a relationship with a mentor, it is important that you trust the motivation, interest, and ability of your mentor. If you have reservations, you should seek an alternative program or mentor if you are still in the phase of searching for one. If you are already in a less-than-perfect mentoring relationship, you have the option of 1) taking some time to examine yourself and your own behaviors to see how you might improve your relationship, 2) speaking openly and assertively with your mentor about your concerns about the relationship, and/or 3) seeking a new mentor.

Other advice for being a good mentee comes from Triple Creek Associates, a company that specializes in teaching skills to mentees who want to make the most of their mentoring relationships. The foundation of their advice rests on three “vital signs” of successful mentoring relationships: respect, responsiveness, and accountability.

1. Respect : Mutual respect is the starting and sustaining aspect of a successful mentoring relationship. Professional and personal appreciation of one another is core to enhancing learning.

2. Responsiveness : Your willingness to learn from your mentor and your mentor’s willingness to respond to your learning needs are important for successful collaboration.

3. Accountability : Once you and your mentor establish mutually held goals and expectations, keeping your agreements strengthens trust and helps maintain a positive relationship.

Establishing and cultivating a healthy mentoring relationship rests, to a large extent, in the hands of the mentee. Mentees who know what their own goals and expectations are and can communicate them clearly, who seek information about how to be successful in learning from mentors, and who carefully attend to maintaining a healthy relationship with their mentors may reap many benefits. If you find yourself in a situation where you are not satisfied with the quality of your mentoring relationship, take a critical and honest look at yourself and your behaviors. What might you be able to do to improve your relationship with your mentor? If you are satisfied with the quality of your relationship, take note of what is working. Then, use that knowledge to establish successful mentoring relationships with others in the future.

Allen, T. D., Eby, L. T., Poteet, M. L., Lentz, E., & Lima, L. (2004). Career benefits associated with mentoring
for protégés: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 127–136.

Allen, T. D., & Poteet, M. L. (1999). Developing effective mentoring relationships: Strategies from the mentor’s
viewpoint. The Career Development Quarterly, 48, 59-73.

Johnson, B. W., & Huwe, M. (2003). Getting mentored in graduate school. American
Psychological Association.

Kram, K. E. (1988). Mentoring at work: Developmental relationships in organizational life. Glenview, IL: Scott
Foresman.

Triple Creek Associates, Inc. (2007) Mentoring guide for mentees, second edition. Retrieved December 27, 2009,
from http://www.3creek.com/resources/booklets/MenteeGuide.pdf

Zachary, L. J., & Fischler, L. A. (2009). The mentee’s guide: How to make mentoring work for you. Hoboken, NJ:
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

You’ll never get a second chance to make a great first impression.” We’ve all heard that an interviewer, or a stranger at a party, will form an impression of you, your character, your personality — an impression that is nearly indelible — all within the first 60 seconds of meeting you.

Or wait, is it 30 seconds? Twenty?

Forget whatever figure you may have heard. Not to intimidate you, if you happen to be preparing for a job or grad school interview, or a blind date, but new research shows that you may need to have your act together in the blink of an eye.

A series of experiments by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov reveal that all it takes is a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from their face, and that longer exposures don’t significantly alter those impressions (although they might boost your confidence in your judgments). Their research is presented in their article “First Impressions,” in the July issue of Psychological Science.

Like it or not, judgments based on facial appearance play a powerful role in how we treat others, and how we get treated. Psychologists have long known that attractive people get better outcomes in practically all walks of life. People with “mature” faces receive more severe judicial outcomes than “baby-faced” people. And having a face that looks competent (as opposed to trustworthy or likeable) may matter a lot in whether a person gets elected to public office.

Willis and Todorov conducted separate experiments to study judgments from facial appearance, each focusing on a different trait: attractiveness, likeability, competence, trustworthiness, and aggressiveness. Participants were shown photographs of unfamiliar faces for 100 milliseconds (1/10 of a second), 500 milliseconds (half a second), or 1,000 milliseconds (a full second), and were immediately asked to judge the faces for the trait in question (e.g., “Is this person competent?”). Response time was measured. Participants were then asked to rate their confidence in making their judgments.

Participants’ judgments were compared with ratings of the same photographs given by another group of participants in a preliminary study, in which there were no time constraints for judging the personality traits of the faces. (In that preliminary study, there was strong agreement among the various participants about the traits of the people in the photographs.)

For all five of the traits studied, judgments made after the briefest exposure (1/10 of a second) were highly correlated with judgments made without time constraints; and increased exposure time (1/2 or a full second) didn’t increase the correlation. Response times also revealed that participants made their judgments as quickly (if not more quickly) after seeing a face for 1/10 of a second as they did if given a longer glimpse.

Longer exposure times did increase confidence in judgments and facilitated more differentiated trait impressions (that is, less correlation between the different traits for a given person).

All the correlations between judgments made after a 1/10-second glimpse and judgments made without time constraints were high, but of all the traits, trustworthiness was the one with the highest correlation. Along with attractiveness, this was also the trait that participants were able to assess most quickly. The authors suggest, based on evolutionary psychology, that an accelerated and accurate ability to judge trustworthiness in others may have evolved as an important survival mechanism.

But before you rest secure in the knowledge that at least you have a whole 1/10 of a second to make that great first impression at your next job interview, the authors acknowledge that future research may well close that window even smaller. Other researchers recently revealed in Psychological Science that objects are categorized as soon as they are perceived; something similar, Willis and Todorov suggest, may be true of certain trait judgments.

It may be that, to impress a prospective employer with your competence and trustworthiness, or a prospective mate with your attractiveness, you can do it in, well, no time. That may be a good or bad thing, depending.

You’ll never get a second chance to make a great first impression.” We’ve all heard that an interviewer, or a stranger at a party, will form an impression of you, your character, your personality — an impression that is nearly indelible — all within the first 60 seconds of meeting you.

Or wait, is it 30 seconds? Twenty?

Forget whatever figure you may have heard. Not to intimidate you, if you happen to be preparing for a job or grad school interview, or a blind date, but new research shows that you may need to have your act together in the blink of an eye.

A series of experiments by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov reveal that all it takes is a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from their face, and that longer exposures don’t significantly alter those impressions (although they might boost your confidence in your judgments). Their research is presented in their article “First Impressions,” in the July issue of Psychological Science.

Like it or not, judgments based on facial appearance play a powerful role in how we treat others, and how we get treated. Psychologists have long known that attractive people get better outcomes in practically all walks of life. People with “mature” faces receive more severe judicial outcomes than “baby-faced” people. And having a face that looks competent (as opposed to trustworthy or likeable) may matter a lot in whether a person gets elected to public office.

Willis and Todorov conducted separate experiments to study judgments from facial appearance, each focusing on a different trait: attractiveness, likeability, competence, trustworthiness, and aggressiveness. Participants were shown photographs of unfamiliar faces for 100 milliseconds (1/10 of a second), 500 milliseconds (half a second), or 1,000 milliseconds (a full second), and were immediately asked to judge the faces for the trait in question (e.g., “Is this person competent?”). Response time was measured. Participants were then asked to rate their confidence in making their judgments.

Participants’ judgments were compared with ratings of the same photographs given by another group of participants in a preliminary study, in which there were no time constraints for judging the personality traits of the faces. (In that preliminary study, there was strong agreement among the various participants about the traits of the people in the photographs.)

For all five of the traits studied, judgments made after the briefest exposure (1/10 of a second) were highly correlated with judgments made without time constraints; and increased exposure time (1/2 or a full second) didn’t increase the correlation. Response times also revealed that participants made their judgments as quickly (if not more quickly) after seeing a face for 1/10 of a second as they did if given a longer glimpse.

Longer exposure times did increase confidence in judgments and facilitated more differentiated trait impressions (that is, less correlation between the different traits for a given person).

All the correlations between judgments made after a 1/10-second glimpse and judgments made without time constraints were high, but of all the traits, trustworthiness was the one with the highest correlation. Along with attractiveness, this was also the trait that participants were able to assess most quickly. The authors suggest, based on evolutionary psychology, that an accelerated and accurate ability to judge trustworthiness in others may have evolved as an important survival mechanism.

But before you rest secure in the knowledge that at least you have a whole 1/10 of a second to make that great first impression at your next job interview, the authors acknowledge that future research may well close that window even smaller. Other researchers recently revealed in Psychological Science that objects are categorized as soon as they are perceived; something similar, Willis and Todorov suggest, may be true of certain trait judgments.

It may be that, to impress a prospective employer with your competence and trustworthiness, or a prospective mate with your attractiveness, you can do it in, well, no time. That may be a good or bad thing, depending.

How to be a good observer

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How to be a good observer

The last of the four genetic elements of temperament is Participant/Observer. We have addressed the other elements – Internalizer/Externalizer, Introvert/Extrovert, and Active/Passive – as they digest maternal Nurture. The orientation as Participant or Observer determines how one relates to the people and scenarios of the play of consciousness as a whole. A Participant is naturally oriented to be immersed in and emotionally involved with others. He easily and naturally engages through feeling. The natural orientation of an observer, on the other hand, is to process at a distance, rather than be immersed in the feeling relatedness of the scenario of the play. An Observer tends toward thinking, caution, circumspection, reticence, and figuring things out.

For example, let’s say a Participant is diagnosed with lung cancer. From his emotional orientation, he plunges into pain and fear, sadness, despair, and anger. He wells up with tears, cries, and screams that his life is over. An Observer, in the same situation, removes himself to “understand”. He distances himself and analyzes the situation. He discusses the implications. On what is the diagnosis based? What are the survival rates? What are the treatment options? What are the protocols, and what are the side effects of the drugs? “Understand” literally means to “stand under” and evaluate, rather than be immersed in, and feel the scenario. In that sense, he stands outside of it. Nonetheless, the Observer is still a part of the play and subject to its plot. He is in the same situation as a Participant, but is removed and doesn’t feel it. We are all participant/observers of our plays. Our primary orientation is just a matter of where on the participant/observer axis we fall. Some Observers might do well to be more like a Participant and be more engaged and reactive. Whereas some Participants might do well to be more like Observers and pull back and have some perspective.

What happens to an Observer who is subject to abuse and deprivation? An Observer, in the context of abuse, tends toward distancing himself, removal, emotional withdrawal, and obsessing. In fact, in the extreme, when he separates himself from feeling anger, he is literally beside himself (with anger). His natural inclination is to distance himself from feeling the pain of his sadomasochistic drama. The observer strategy is to flee off of the stage of engagement, i.e., flight, not fight. He withdraws and removes himself from emotional absence, rejection, and abuse, as well as from physical abuse. We can see how this works when as a child, he is beaten. The observer response is to withdraw from feeling the sensation of being hit, to numb himself during the beating. Since the beating parent’s goal is to elicit a participatory response from him, to make him cry and beg for mercy, the unintended consequence of observer withdrawal is to increase the attacks and S&M engagement. This does not, of course, remove him from the sadism. In fact, it has the unintended consequence of subjecting him to even more abuse. Hence the Observer temperament contributes to the masochistic position in one’s play.

Emotional absence and rejection is the most important aspect of maternal sadism. The response to the pain of Mother’s absence and rejection, for the Observer, is to remove himself emotionally. He takes flight from the inhospitable stage of the theater of consciousness. This withdrawal protects his unloved self by a hibernation from the maternal nuclear winter. His Authentic Being does not die. It remains inaccessible, timelessly removed in an coma. This Observer, removed from his Authentic Being, becomes emotionally withdrawn and inaccessible. “I am a rock. I am an island.” He becomes cold and removed, like his mother.

A Participant, in the context of abuse, tends toward over emotionalism, loss of control, and boundary blurring with others. For example, sexual and/or physical abuse as a child, may well result in filling the emptiness inside with impulsivity, aggression, heightened and falsely dramatic feeling states, sexual promiscuity, shifting scenario frames, minimal perspective, intense superficial attachments, sado-masochistic enactments, labile emotional states, and mood shifts from excitement to suicidal despair.

How to be a good observer

All four elements of temperament work in concert to form our unique play of consciousness. Remember, temperament is the ‘Nature’ that fields maternal Nurture’. Not only do each of us have a unique constellation of temperament, but every person has a specific balance for each temperamental dynamic. Each element of temperament is on an axis, on which there is a prevailing position. This is true for all four elements. Not only that, but one or another of the four temperamental elements may be more pronounced and powerful than the other ones. This would make that specific element of temperament more influential in the formation of one’s personality. I want to emphasize that by temperament, we are talking about inborn temperamental styles, not pathology. The individual array of our temperamental aspects, when digesting parental nurture, create the varied and wonderful scope of human personality. Our cortical imagination, oriented by our temperament, writes a specific and nuanced character world in each of us, which is as unique as our fingerprints. Remember that it is the degree of abuse that is digested into our plays that generates suffering. Temperament merely determines the specifics of the expression of that pain into psychiatric symptoms.

Since all of us have both aspects of each temperamental pair in us, the full scope of the human drama lies within the consciousness of all of us. We have within our imaginations, all of the features of all character worlds. In fact, we dip into aspects of many of them in our daily lives. We all have the potential for love, caring, creativity, selfishness, cruelty, abandonments, emotional isolation, projective blaming, rage, egotism, fears, anxiety, so-called depression, flight from unwanted moments, fraudulence, emptiness, helplessness, and hopelessness in our routine living. This is the stuff of human drama. Each of us settles on our particular character drama as our major life solution. I propose that these four elements of temperament, as they digest our nurture, represent how the brain actually operates as it constructs our plays in consciousness, and that they encompass and determine the full spectrum of human character.

Robert A. Berezin, MD is the author of “Psychotherapy of Character, the Play of Consciousness in the Theater of the Brain”

Have you ever heard the phrase, Become the Observer? Deepak Chopra introduced me to this truth years ago and it changed my life. So today I want to share it with you.

Becoming the observer means being aware enough of yourself that you can step outside of an emotional upset or heated situation to observe how you are reacting to it. It means having a level of self-awareness that even when you’re in the middle of a conflict you are aware of yourself.

Objectively observing and gathering information about a situation seems easier when we’re doing it for someone else. You’ve all experienced this. A friend comes to you and is very upset. You remind them to take a deep breath, and you start to calmly ask questions about their situation. You do not flip out, start crying, and join them in their meltdown; because in this situation you are the observer (And that would also not be at all helpful!). You are not emotionally triggered therefore you are able to see the situation with clarity. Your pal is too emotionally heated to observe rather than react.

Much like your friend, when you react to intense emotions, there is no space between your thoughts for you to problem solve in a productive and skilled way. When you’re not acting as the Observer, it feels as though things are happening to you as opposed to you being a part of why it is happening. Now imagine being calm enough to connect with your problem-solving mind while experiencing a challenging situation?

In taking on the role of the observer you can actually start collecting incredibly valuable data about yourself.

You gain a deeper understanding of what is driving you, and what you are responding to. With this clarity you’ll find expansion and space. When you become the observer you increase your understanding of your reactions and eventually you will no longer be at the mercy of old emotional injuries, other people, or your own frustration.

Becoming the observer also puts you in a position where you can look at your part, in everything. When you become mindful, you can see clearly that no matter what anyone else has done, how you respond is about you. You no longer go immediately to blame because you understand your part.

Empowerment happens when you take responsibility for and understand your choices, actions and responses. @terri_cole (Click to Tweet!)

The more you observe yourself without judgment the more self-knowledge you possess. Once you understand why you respond a certain way, you are now in a position to make a different choice. I find that if you can exercise this ability, it will lead to some of the most important information that you will learn about why you are the way you are and how you are being in the world. This knowledge creates the choice to change what you don’t like.

Being mindfully aware enough to observe yourself takes time but just like anything the more you do, the better you get. I am interested in your thoughts about this topic so please drop a comment or ask a question. Thank you for your willingness to always work toward becoming more self-aware. And as s always take care of you.

Terri Cole is a licensed psychotherapist, transformation coach, and an expert at turning fear into freedom. Sign up for Terri’s weekly Tune Up Tips and follow her on Twitter.