Have you ever overheard a conversation that you just couldn’t tune out? Maybe you were on a date, and no matter how good of a time you were having, you just HAD to hear the rest of the loud-talker’s work story from the next table. Or maybe you were on a train. Sometimes, unimportant noise catches our attention and won’t let go.
I spend a lot of my life wearing noise canceling headphones (real ones, not a metaphor).
Now for the metaphor
Unfortunately, we don’t have the technology to filter out distracting thoughts and worries. No noise cancelling headphones for the brain. But we do have an amazing ability that Arno Ilgner calls The Observer.
Have you ever thought about thinking? That’s The Observer. Have you ever stepped back and watched yourself? The Observer again. It’s a mental perspective that lets you step outside of yourself and watch what you’re doing. A different kind of awareness.
When we’re stressed, we tend to act.
I have a psychologist friend who showed me a study that demonstrated how stress actually reduces our intelligence. The greater the stress, the louder your amygdala (aka Lizard Brain) starts shouting. And usually it’s actions taken in moments like these that we regret.
Don’t act. Observe.
Lately, when I find myself stressed, I stop moving. I stop doing. I try to move to The Observer viewpoint and I watch my brain for a while. I want to know WHY I am stressed. I want to know if this thing really matters. I want to know what outcome I need to eliminate my concerns.
90% of the time I come to the conclusion that this thing, which felt like a crisis just moments ago, doesn’t matter at all. No outcome is better than the other, and I can just let it go.