Self-observation allows you to be aware of what you are thinking, feeling and doing from moment to moment.
When you observe what’s going on inside you can ask yourself: “does thinking like this help me or hinder me?” or “Does holding this feeling make me stronger or weaker?” or “Is this behaviour in line with my Beliefs or my Values?”
In order to improve any part of who you are you need to first observe what you are doing right now. You need to notice when you get annoyed, or when you act before thinking, or when your mind just “goes blank”. These observations will often give you clues as to where you lose power and possibly hand the initiative to others.
What Causes Poor or Weak Behaviour?
Your poor or weak thoughts are often part of a pattern of thinking that you use to excuse yourself for a lack of progress. Are your weak feelings and reactions caused by something that someone else does? Is your weak behaviour one of your habits? Is there a particular person or event or situation that causes you to behave in a way that is weak, inappropriate or which demeans you?
Human beings are creatures of habit. Habits are good when they save us time by enabling us to act without having to think. For instance you have a habit of cleaning your teeth every morning; you don’t have to think about when to clean your teeth or how to do it, it just happens.
Habits can also weaken our performance when you just react in a certain way on autopilot. You may have developed the habit of worrying when you think about your finances. Certain types of people may make you feel nervous. You may feel anxious when speaking in front of large numbers of people. But any of these reactions are just the result of you repeatedly behaving in the same way, without consciously thinking about what you are doing.
The good news is that you can use self-observation to change weak habits and develop better ways of thinking and being.
How Self-observation Helps You Improve Your Performance
The first step is to develop the habit of self-observation. You need to notice what you are thinking, feeling and doing from moment to moment. Your aim is to be self-aware all of the time so that you can notice those behaviours that weaken your behaviour or diminish your reputation.
The second step, once you have noticed a weakening thought or behaviour is to ask yourself, “What value or belief do I have to hold in this situation in order to improve my performance?”
The third step is to start thinking or behaving in a way that is true to the value that you have decided will improve your performance.
Now would be a good time to review your values and reaffirm that you want to always behave in ways that are congruent with your values.
Here’s An Example of Self-Observation in Action
As I was typing this article one of my dogs started to scratch himself. I felt slightly annoyed at being distracted. I stopped typing and looked towards the dog and told him to “lie down”.
I became aware that I was allowing myself to be distracted by a very minor event. I was not holding my belief that I should be one hundred percent focussed on what I am doing if I am to achieve excellence in everything I do.
I immediately reaffirmed myself in my belief that I needed to remain focussed on my immediate task and confirmed to myself my value of excellence.
I then returned to writing this article with one hundred percent focus on the article and holding the belief that I need to strive for excellence in everything that I do.
Your Mantra For Self-observation
Pay attention at all times to what you are thinking, feeling and doing. Notice when your attention wanders away from the immediate present. This will happen frequently because your mind is forever searching, like Google on speed.
The moment you notice that you are not one hundred percent focussed on the task in hand you should immediately stop what you are doing and focus your full attention on the new thought, feeling or behaviour. Ask yourself: “What value or belief should I be holding in order to complete what I am doing excellently?”
This is your mantra for self-observation: ”I am continuously aware of my thoughts, feelings and actions so that I can remain focussed in the present moment.”