Can I get a Witness? (How to get out of your own way)
Have you ever felt like you’re your own worst enemy? If you could only get out of your own way, life might be a lot easier?
Me too. I often feel I wrote the book on self-sabotage.
I’ll never forget sitting in my old therapists office about eight years ago and hearing the strangest homework assignment I’d ever gotten to date. Here’s what he said,
“Katie, I want you to spend the whole week simply being a student of you and your experience.”
“Excuse me?” I thought to myself as I quizzically stared back at him like he had eight heads. This would be interesting…
This seemed nearly impossible at the time because I’d become so accustomed to ruthlessly judging myself without even noticing. To merely “observe” or “witness” my daily experience would require me to slow down that automatic self-criticism. It would require me to be a neutral audience. This in turn, would require me to be a bit…kind?
It was perhaps the most profound assignment I’d ever been given. I felt as if a heavy weight had been lifted from my weary frame. I remember feeling curious, even intrigued by myself and my behaviors. Miraculously, I’ve never done drugs before, but this little experiment felt as close as I’d gotten up until that point. It was out-of-body.
Part of my lifelong work has been learning to grow that neutral observer, or inner witness, inside that allows for self-awareness and compassion to take root and grow over time. The more curious we can get about anything, the less time we spend in rigid judgment. As a result, we move from a fixed mindset to a growth one. Otherwise, we live in reaction mode, constantly being triggered and judging ourselves and others. Not a good look.
Here’s two things I’ve learned about human nature:
99.999999% of us have a pretty nasty inner critic at some point along the way. Human beings, by nature, have a negative bias. As the saying goes, “we are our own worst critic.”
It’s much easier to react out of emotion than respond out of self-awareness.
I also believe you are your absolute greatest asset in this life. However, in order to be MVP on your own team, you may need to clean out the dank and dusty attic of your thoughts, like I constantly do.
I’d like to support you in this truly life-giving process. Consider this first step the warm-up of our spring training. Here’s how we’ll get the blood pumping:
Assume the role of a neutral observer, a student if you will. Pretend you’re doing research for a project and any and every bit of information is fair game. It’s okay if you bounce back into the judgment seat. That’s good information too! Record your findings with this journaling prompt:
What do I noticing about myself and my experience? How can I be more curious throughout the day?
Email me your findings! I’d love to learn from you and share your wisdom on Instagram next week.
If you get discouraged along the way, take heart. In a science experiment, everything is good information, even failure. And remember, you are the ultimate expert at you.
Love & Gratitude,