As a young person, I was always aware that it took a great deal to push me into an angry outburst. I was also aware that when that threshold was reached, it was not a pretty sight. The reason the explosion was exponentially more intense than the action that sparked it was because the explosion represented the cumulative effect of many such actions that I had stuffed down inside me.
After one memorable event, I asked myself: "When did I shift from just hiding my feelings from others to hiding my feelings from myself?" And you know what I figured out? It didn't really matter when it started. What did matter was that I recognized that I was doing it and started trying to change it.
What Change Requires
Changing what you do requires the development of a Personal Observer. You know those voices in your head that always have some reaction to everything around you as well as to your thoughts and feelings? Well, those are called your subpersonalities. Each of them has an agenda, and most of them developed without your conscious awareness to meet some specific need that arose. A Personal Observer, however, is deliberately developed by you. It is a mental part of you that observes how you think and feel about events in your life without making judgment.
Developing your Personal Observer requires consciously noting when you have a negative reaction to any situation, such as shouting at someone, or simply feeling regret or frustration over the way something unfolds. The Personal Observer takes note of what happens, how you feel about it, and how you react to it. It does all this without making excuses, beating up on you, or taking score. It takes time and effort for this process of self-observation to become second nature to you, but it will.
Taking such a proactive stance on your personal psychology as using a Personal Observer increases your awareness of the connection between your thoughts and feelings and your subsequent actions. It also gives you something specific to work on. Thus, it reduces the pressure that is building inside you from all those suppressed feelings! In other words, it reduces your stress level.
Why Would You Want To Do This?
So what is the value of being aware of how you feel? Well, for one thing, you reduce the force of your angry explosions when they come. Plus, you have the opportunity to change your future reactions to similar situations. With this impartial information, you can view a situation objectively and start to feel that you are more in control of your life. These actions will lead to taking personal responsibility for your life experiences rather than blaming them on circumstances or other people. They move you from being a victim of your negative emotions to victor—able to consciously choose how you respond to life.