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Observing Yourself

It is impossible to go through life without feelings and thoughts. These feelings and thoughts affect your body and your mind and can bring you in various mental states, from elation to devastation.

However, as you mature, you also learn that nothing lasts: not elation, not devastation, and not anything in between. Feelings and thoughts come and go like the tides of a river. If your responses to emotions are like those of the majority of other human beings, you probably enjoy the feelings of elation and dread those of devastation. You may then have also learned that elation, devastation, and all in-between states can elicit behaviors in you that you would have avoided, were you in a more moderate state of mind.

Fortunately, there is a way to establish better balance in your life, in which neither elation nor devastation, nor any state in between, will derail your acts or your perspectives about what makes sense, and what not. That is the way of observation.

By observing your states mindfully, you learn to see them in their right perspectives. You also learn to see their origins, so you get to understand them better and consequently release them from additional baggage that merely engorges their volume and, thus, blows them out of proportion. It is, after all, this blowing out of proportion, that creates extremes such as elation and devastation.

This is not to say that mindful analysis of your feelings and thoughts will entirely eliminate extreme emotional experiences, as you are still part of this world, and there will still be events that will bring out intense emotions within you at times, due to your connectedness with other living beings. However, it does entail that there will be fewer outliers and more balance in your states from then on.

So how do you observe yourself?
1) Examine your emotions and thoughts from an outsider's perspective whenever you think about them (For instance: "Boy, am I upset today!").
2) Realize what exactly it is that you are feeling or thinking now ("I experience a feeling of disappointment").
3) Analyze how this feeling or thought came about ("I experience a feeling of disappointment because my colleague at work whom I considered a friend told others something I had shared confidentially with him or her").

Once you have detected the nature of your feeling or thought (2) and its reason for existence (3), you can start working at it: in the above example you can either decide not to trust this colleague anymore, or you can express your disappointment about his or her actions.

In either of the steps you decide to take in order to balance this emotion, you have to make sure it frees you from the excessive sentiment, and transforms this feeling into one that you can easier accept. Yet, it may also be wise not to forget the lesson you learned from this feeling or emotion, which, in this case may be to remain friendly and kind, but to refrain from, or be more careful about, sharing confidential information with others in the future.

One thing you should definitely refrain from is becoming and remaining upset at yourself. You are the one closest to your feelings and thoughts, so you better keep them bearable toward yourself.

Concluding: By engaging in observation about your mental and emotional states, you will get better insight into your character: your strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, interests, and non-interests. It is this evaluation of your feelings and thoughts and their origins that will ultimately eliminate most extremes and make you a better-balanced person, more capable of coping with the surprises of life, overall.

Dr. Joan Marques, Burbank, CA

About the Author: Joan Marques emigrated from Suriname, South America, to California, U.S., in 1998. She holds a doctorate in Organizational Leadership, a Master's in Business Administration, and is currently a university instructor in Business and Management in Burbank, California. You may visit her web sites at and

It is better to live in serene poverty than in hectic affluence. Everything has a price. The price for nurturing your soul is turning away from excessive stress, destruction of self-respect, and the constant strive in lifestyle with the Joneses. But it's worth it.

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