A major goal of therapy is to develop an external observing ego – or more simply, the awareness that things are happening, not happening to you.
This video is part sixteen of twenty-six excerpts from a presentation hosted by SOUL Food Salon in March 2019.
You may check out the full playlist of this video series on The Art and Science on Mind Optimization here. Alternatively, you can also click here to watch the previous video and here for the next one.
The first and most important thing I think for me that I’ve learned in my practice is the importance of popping out. This is the reality that things are not happening to you. Things are just happening. And popping out is the ability to recognize that you are a light bulb. Popping out is the ability to pop out and realize: Hey, I’m annoyed today or I’m having a great day. I feel so good. But it’s at least having that slight ability to just, for a moment, look at self externally and understand what’s going on rather than being in it. The Buddhists compared this example… you guys have heard of it. You’re sitting on the bank of a river watching your feelings go by. You’re not in the river. But gosh, that river tends to suck you in. We’re designed that way. And that’s why it takes a concerted effort to pop out.
The other way I look at popping that for me is really important, and I was taught this by a psychologist in my residency, is that imagine – you had a mini Alex sitting on your shoulder, the next time you get angry at your spouse or the next time you have an issue at work, and ask yourself, “What would Alex say right now that I ought to be doing? Am I overreacting? Am I thinking too much? Am I doing too much?” Imagine for a moment just popping out of that situation and understanding that this… just looking at it externally and understanding that you have feelings, and that’s okay, but they’re going to come and go. The trick is to just not react. We’re going to get a little deeper into that in a moment.