Ever notice how we are always rushing, rushing, rushing? Even if there isn’t somewhere we have to be by a certain time, we feel we have to get there as fast as possible.
For example, on the way to work we become frustrated at the red light because it takes longer than usual. We become angry driving behind the person who is actually going the speed limit.
Many times the anxious, rushing feeling is related to a deeper feeling of discomfort. The mind thinks if it can just get to the office, or can just make it to lunch, or can just rush home, then the discomfort will ease. But that uncomfortable feeling never quite goes away.
The next thing that happens is that food, wine, or something stronger is used to ease the discomfort. While these may distract for a while, they don’t solve the problem. So what can help?
When you have that inner discomfort, it’s a call for attention. Unfortunately, instead of looking inward, we tend to look outward for a fix, but it never works. It’s clear that ideas such as “if I only had more money….if I had a more attractive body….if I had a nicer car and house” aren’t the answer. There are endless examples of people who are fit, rich, have nice houses and cars who are miserable.
By stopping and truly paying attention to the feeling within, it’s possible to acknowledge and start to ease the discomfort. This is a process, and not a “fix”. In fact, part of easing that feeling is realizing that it’s not a problem to be eliminated, but instead a part of the self that needs to be welcomed and nurtured.
Becoming the Observer
Make a commitment to pay attention to that inner feeling this week. Paying attention does not mean thinking, analyzing or trying to change the sensation. It just means observing and being aware.
Did you know research shows that simply paying attention to what hurts, helps ease the pain? Sounds strange doesn’t it?
When we have physical pain we want to distract ourselves from it, and numb the pain. However, numerous medical research studies show that by becoming still and aware of the pain without trying to change it, the pain eases. [These studies are cited below if you want to read further].
The key here is observing what hurts, whether it is physical pain or that inner discomfort we keeping rushing away from.
You step into the role of the observer.
We do this all the time without realizing it, but becoming consciously aware of being an observer is a powerful step.
When you pay attention to the discomfort as the observer, you also realize that who you are, is not the discomfort. If you are able to observe it, it no longer defines you. Obviously you can’t be that which you observe…right?
You also begin to notice that the observer is not in pain, and is actually quite peaceful. This is the first crack in a doorway that leads to a more beautiful and peaceful existence.
The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment rendered by a licensed medical professional. It is essential that you discuss with your primary care provider any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing.
Cusens, B., Duggan, G. B., Thorne, K., & Burch, V. (2010). Evaluation of the breathworks mindfulness-based pain management programme: effects on well-being and multiple measures of mindfulness. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 17(1), 63-78.
Davis, M. C., Zautra, A. J., Wolf, L. D., Tennen, H., & Yeung, E. W. (2015). Mindfulness and cognitive–behavioral interventions for chronic pain: Differential effects on daily pain reactivity and stress reactivity. Journal Of Consulting And Clinical Psychology, 83(1), 24-35. doi:10.1037/a0038200
Forsyth, L., & Hayes, L. (2014). The Effects of Acceptance of Thoughts, Mindful Awareness of Breathing, and Spontaneous Coping on an Experimentally Induced Pain Task. Psychological Record, 64(3), 447-455. doi:10.1007/s40732-014-0010-6