Lecture 8: The Observing Self View

22 minutes
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Hi, I'm Dr. Rich blonde, and welcome back to session eight. Now in this session, we're going to talk about one of the key techniques to help clients become more psychologically flexible. And this one is called developing the observer self view or the observing self view. This is really, really hard to understand it was the hardest thing for me to understand when I was training become an act therapist. And it was one of the reasons I started writing my own books related to act and AC coaching, is that it's just conceptually very difficult for clients to understand this. So I tried to present it in such a way over the years that makes a little more sense and it's and it's easy to use for coaches.

So I hope that comes across. And if not, you know, feel free to shoot me an email or give me a call and I can explain a little more detail. But there's two exercises that we're going to do. The one we're going to do completely involves having a clear glass tumbler, about half of it filled with ice. And then put water in it, fill it with water, and it's called the drink of ice water. So be ready for that one, get your stuff ready for that, because we're going to do that one and a couple of minutes.

So let's get started. Okay, the observing self. And once again, this is a technique that helps clients move from psychological inflexibility to flexibility. And you can see it right here. And it works with the very last technique called disentanglement. The two work together, and you'll see how in the next session, now, there's two ways to view the self.

One is called the conceptualized self. And that's the way most people view themselves and that's also known as a self as content view. because it assumes that clients are nothing more than what their mind tells them. In other words, I'm the equivalent of the content of my mind. So if he asked me who I was, I would explain you know, using thoughts and words and whatever about who I am But it's the perspective of you are your thoughts you are what your mind tells you. And clients get stuck because of that, because they with that viewpoint becomes, you know, puts the pressure on on to really buy into your thoughts and your feelings.

So well, if my mind's telling me it must be true, is kind of what happens and the more intelligent and more intellectual people are, and the more they use their brains and events successful, you know, doing problem solving by using their mind, the harder it is for them to say, well, that's not always the best view to take. Because sometimes what your mind tells you isn't very helpful, isn't very accurate, and gets you stuck. So because of that, what we want clients to be able to do is to step out of that view, and step into taking what's called an observing self view. And that's a view that's known as the self as context view. What that view assumes is that we are more than more minds activity, that we are the vessel from which our thoughts and our feelings and activity originates and then flows.

Now, he said, Well, that's kind of crazy. Why would you want to do that? What it allows us to do and clients to do is to step away from what our mind is doing. And to step back and to look at and observe our minds activity and start to use the phrase, well, you know, my mind is telling me or my mind is having the thought, or my mind was thinking this, or my mind was feeling this and really start to look at those internal factors as activity of your mind that you can step away from and observe. And if you can get clients to step away from and observe in a non judgmental way. What is going on in their mind can be very helpful.

It can help them get unstuck. Now, it's really hard to do. It's easy Sally, I will just step back and look at what our mind is doing. Well, for most of our clients lives, they've actually not taken observing self view. And it's really hard to do, because our culture really doesn't foster it. Our culture, it's very critical, critical, judgmental, and evaluative.

And rather than teaching people how to just observe things for what they are, and accept them, clients learn from a very early age to be critical and judgmental and evaluative. And even if it's something they haven't directly experienced firsthand, right, people have opinions about things they hear about from a second or third or fourth party. And that's really rapid now in the news where someone will actually go with a story that they didn't directly report themselves, and maybe didn't verify. But people you know, everyday people, your clients all the time Kinda like just go off the deep end, based on something that they heard from someone else without directly experiencing. So this is really going to be a challenge for them to be able to start saying, Wait a second. Let me experience that for myself and see how it plays out.

And now I'm not going to prejudge it. That's a that's a mind changer, game changer. And again, it's really difficult to do when we have grown up in a culture that criticizes judges and evaluates everything. But this is where mindfulness training comes into play. And this is wearing like daily meditation practices very helpful. But what mindfulness training does remember mindfulness is moment by moment awareness, it's noticing things and accepting them for what they are without judgment.

And that's one of the reasons why it's so important for our clients to become more mindful and practice mindfulness, because in sexual relations, you know, judgments and evaluations. comparisons and measurements can really kill, they can really hurt a relationship, you know. So rather than just lay there next to your partner, and notice her skin, or his smell, or her touch, you people judge it, it's to this to that it doesn't measure up to this, it doesn't measure up to that. It's not like this. It's not like that, rather than just noticing it and accepting it for what it is. And if clients can do that, then every encounter with their partner is new.

It doesn't matter that they've been together 10 years and had sex 1000 times the newness of today's experience with that partner makes it fresh makes it interesting makes it novel. He only way that can really start to happen is if clients are able to just step back and notice without judging or prejudging. So this is a fun activity I put together called descriptions versus judgments that involves some current day figures and some interesting issues. And it's a two part activity. So I'm going to read it because we're not going to do it now. But if you haven't pulled it out yet, take a moment and go pull it out.

So you can go, come on, go on with me, I'm going to take a quick sip of water. So I'm just going to tell you how to do this for the client rather than do it right now. So what do you tell the client is okay, what I'd like you to do is go ahead and gather these images, and I'll give you a list of what the pictures are they have to go get. And then when you have them, you're going to answer questions on this checklist. So first, you're going to gather the information, and then you're going to do the checklist. So here are the things that I want you to take them from some magazines, I want you to take them from car magazines, women's fashion magazines and news magazines.

I want you to get at least one image of a red two seater convertible sports car, a gray four door economy sedan or you can get Tan but some nondescript color, a model in a lavish gown with a plunging neckline. You know something that exposes some breast tissue, a large diamond studded necklace, picture of Hillary Clinton milania trunk. Barack Obama ignored the bill. I was going to do Bill Clinton, but I decided Barack Obama and Donald Trump. So images of those things and those folks fight. So imagine now it's part two, and the client has all that and if you're doing it as a homework assignment, you could explain to do this or if this is a fun in office activity, you can sit with them and have spread their images out on the desk and say, Okay, good images.

Let's pick the milania Trump picture, and I want you to answer the following questions. And I want you to put a D or j next to it. Okay. Whether it's a description of Mani Trump or judgment about money, Trump, Lani Trump is a bimbo. milania Trump is a good role model for women. Lani chunk was a successful model and businesswoman.

Milania Trump speaks several languages. Okay, so let's go over it. Obviously Melania Trump is a bimbo is a judgment. Lani Trump is a good role model is also a judgment. Right? Good is a very subjective word.

Milania Chung was a successful model and businesswoman so successful that's a judgment of No it isn't. She made a lot of money as a model and she had high degree of success. And then she opened up her own fashion line. So well that one might be tricky. That's a description and milania Trump speaks several languages, which she does I know it's four or five. Let's do the next one.

And then we'll do one more. Now you get the picture of Barack Obama. Barack Obama is a former president of the United States description or judgment. Barack Obama doesn't know anything about foreign policy, description or judgment. Barack Obama plays basketball description with judgment. Barack Obama says health care reform was Joke description with judgment okay former president knighted states that's a description he was doesn't know anything about foreign policy that's a judgment he knows something how much he knows is subjective so you may you know argue that one way or the other.

Brock obama plays basketball is a description and barack obama's health care reform was a joke. That's a judgment. All right so we're going to go through all of these you can see these Hillary Clinton is Donald Trump. Let's do the dress one because this is a sexuality thing. Okay, so you got that picture of the sexy dress with the plunging neckline that exposes you know, half of a woman's breasts. Okay, so what a sexy dress that is description or judgment.

The neckline of bed dress exposes half of her breasts description or judgment. How disgusting it is that the neckline of her dress exposes half of her breasts. And then that dress she has on it's a bright Crimson color. Okay, what a sexy dress That is sexy is a very subjective word. So that's a judgement. Some people might say it's disgusting.

Some people might say it's sexy. Some people might say it's not sexy enough. So that's a judgment. The neckline of that dress exposes half of her breasts. That's a description to merely describing how the dress falls off. How disgusting it is that the neck line, that's a judgment because you're now judging the fact that the dress exposes half progress.

And then the last one, the dress is a bright Crimson color is a description. So you go through all these, and those are the answers for you. But the whole idea when you're done is you process it and you say, all right, you know, what we want you to start doing now is to start catching yourself when instead of just noticing something, you're judging it. And in particular, I want you to start doing that when you're with your partner and when it's anything that has to do with sex. Now, I want you to start playing Paying attention to whether you're just noticing what goes on how your partner smells, how your partner feels, how your partner tastes, how your partner touches you what your partner says, or are you judging it and just start to pay attention because noticing Foster's getting unstuck because noticing and accepting our key and becoming more flexible, judging, contributes to staying stuck getting stuck.

So that's how you process it and you can do, I'll give you I think, I think I have another one of these but you can construct your own, or you can have your clients keep a log that pays attention to how often they notice how often the judge actually kept a spiral notebook when I was training to become an act therapist and I did this for about a month keeping track of my judging and my observing and I was shocked at how judgmental I was. Even though I thought I was this very non judgmental person. All right. Now the other thing that is adopting an observing self viewpoint does is it helps clients avoid thinking traps, because they're able to step back and look at what's going on rather than automatically coming to conclusions. And especially, it helps them with the I can figure it all out in my head trap.

Now that trap leads to experiential avoidance, because what clients are doing is they're stepping back and saying, I don't have to experience that I know how it's gonna play out. So experiential avoidance leads to Well, I'm not committing to take action, I'm going to avoid that. And those are two things that will kill a relationship. All right, especially if one partner wants to try new things, do new things. And the other one says, Oh, no, I know how that played out the last time. I don't want to do that again.

And what happens is, you know, clients begin to think where they think that what's going on in their mind this thinking about things is the same as directly experiencing thing with the five senses. Right? And they're not the same, they're very, very different. But if you're using your thoughts about something as a guideline to whether or not you're going to try something in a sexual relationship context, it isn't. It isn't always the way to get out of that rut Okay. Now the exercise we're going to do to kind of help you show how to you know, get clients connected to their five senses is not a sexual one.

I'm going to have some sexual examples in the exercises and activities in the PDF file. But this one is a classic one that I learned 10 years ago and I've used with clients and almost every AC coaching AC coach, rather act therapist I know uses it. So it's called a drink of ice water and it illustrates the concept of your thoughts don't always equate with direct experience. So, get ready. What I'd like you to do right now is get your glass, your clear tumbler with fat filled with ice cubes and I want you to fill it up about you know, two thirds of the way with water. Okay?

And what you're going to do when you set this up with your clients, who say I'm going to ask you a series of questions about an experience, let you know what the experiences in a minute and I'm going to ask you a series of questions about an object so I just want you to answer what you notice. I don't want you to judge it. Okay, now I'd like you to close your eyes and I'd like you to imagine what it would be like to drink a glass of iced water you know, think about what it would taste like what it would feel like what it would you know, the temperature of it etc. And you know, what is it like to drink a glass of iced water you've all had a glass of iced water. Right now, I want you to open Your eyes and I want you to pick up your tumbler of ice water.

And I want you to do the following things I want you to hold the glass in one hand, I want you to just notice the way that it you know, keep it in front of you who's holding in the palm of your hand or with your fingers and just notice the weight of it. Right. Now I want you to put it in both of your hands and I want you to rotate it in your fingers. Okay, I just want you to notice the shape of it. So hold it so it doesn't fold or spill and just rotate it slowly. And I want you to describe in your own mind the shape of it.

You know what the top looks like what the saw what the rim is like what the bottom is like, what the sides are like, Is there any waviness Is there any pattern is there any, you know, irregularities to the glass at all right. Now I want you to close your eyes, and I want you to move the glass closer to your ear either here it doesn't matter and I want you to roll the ice cube around so they bounce against the side of the glass. And I want you to notice the sound. This makes us take a minute and do that. Alright, now I want you to notice what the water smells like with your eyes still close move the glass under your nose and, you know, swirl it around and just smell and the smell coming off the water right. Now with your eyes still close, I want you to take a sip of the water, just one second swirled around in your mouth.

All right, I want you to notice the taste and the temperature of the water. Now I want you to take another longer drink. I want you to notice how the water feels as it slides down your throat and reaches your stomach. So close your eyes. Taking a nice cup of water but slowly take it into your mouth. swirl it around and slowly let it slide down your throat into your stomach.

And now I want you to finish the water with your eyes closed, just slowly sip and drink the rest of the water. Take your time, there's no rush. If you want to listen to it or smell it or look at the glass of the water once more, take a moment and do that. Take your time you have nowhere to go and nothing to do. But notice the water Okay. All right, you can put the glass down now.

And I just gonna ask you a few questions was thinking about drinking the ice water the exact same thing as actually drinking it? How was thinking about it actually different than experiencing it with your five senses what was different now, right take a moment and you might want to write some of these things down. So was thinking about it the same as actually drinking it? And how was it actually different from experiencing it with your five senses? And lastly, how does this relate to thinking about compared to actually asking for something or doing something sexual with your sex partner? So think about, you know, in the in the real world with your sex partner, when you think about asking for something or thinking about doing something, is it really the same as actually doing it?

How do the two differ? Okay? Alright. So what we're trying to do here with the last exercise and the first one, is really set the stage for noticing without judging. Okay, being able to step back and just notice something without judging it. Right to literally use your five senses.

As a way to test reality, rather than just relying on your thinking all the time, and to kind of setting you know, set the stage for you and your client discussing how avoiding something in a sexual relationship, because you think you know, what it's going to be like and how it's gonna play out how that really kind of limits the opportunity to take a relationship that stuck to the, you know, to get out of the rut. We're taking relationship that's doing okay, and bring it to the next level. And how that trying to figure it all out in your head. I mean, you all know from personal experience, where your thoughts about the way something would play out, turned out to be entirely different from how it actually played out. And you know, you can give examples in your own life about any kind of experience, even a sexual one if you want.

I know some counselors and therapists, you know, never talk about their own personal experiences and others do and, you know, as a coach, I always use my own personal experiences and anecdotes, because because I'm not a therapist, and I think that deepens my coaching relationship. But give an example could be something like when I had to do in my first act training gig, and it was to professional psychotherapists, you know, social workers, psychiatric social workers, and I wasn't a clinician, I was very intimidated by it. And I really envisioned it was going to be a total failure. And I almost got to the point where I didn't do the thing because I my mind was telling me you just know who was I to do this, it wasn't going to work. Well actually did it. And it turned out to be a smashing success.

And people loved my approach. And if I hadn't actually done it, if I tried to figure it all out in my head, it never would have opened that door to become an act trainer and then to get more involved in writing. So you know, whatever example you can give, share it. And if you want to give a sexual one, that's fine. But the whole idea now is to get clients to start thinking about you know what, my mind is telling me these things. And sometimes they're helpful, but sometimes they're not.

And sometimes they get me stuck. So if I can start looking at my mind's activity as something that I can observe, and notice, then I'm kind of halfway there to disentangling from it. And that's what we're going to do. In the next session, I'm going to show you how to use the observing self to begin to detach, diffuse, disentangle from those unhelpful thoughts and feelings and personal scripts. So that'll be the last session and then session 10. I'll kind of wrap it all up and show you how to put it together with your clients.

All right. Let me get out of here. and end this session. And once again, I thank you for hanging in there with me and we've got two more sessions to go but the next one is on disentangled

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