Allow me to introduce you to your Inner Witness. First, through the study of neuroscience, we understand that we each develop patterns of thinking, also known as neural pathways. We can also learn about neural plasticity and our ability to create change around these neural pathways.
Without this awareness, our thinking, our reactions to life events, and our internal dialogue can become habitual, with routine responses to external stimuli that are triggered automatically, without our conscious awareness. In fact, just as when you are on a hike, you can choose familiar pathways or to blaze new “trails” in your internal, mental landscape. To do this, you simply need to nurture your own inner witness.
Your inner witness is an aspect of your awareness or consciousness that can take a step back, survey a situation, and make an intentional choice on which (neural) pathway to follow. In my experience, over the last 25 years, helping myself and others to develop this inner witness, the personal transformation and renewed enthusiasm for all the possibilities life offers are a natural result of this process.
Here are three easy and fun ways to begin this journey yourself right now.
- Catch yourself doing things right. This one can be simple, and is often not easy because we have wide, super highways, or neural pathways, when it comes to being critical of ourselves, to beating ourselves up over “mistakes” made or opportunities missed. The easiest way to start bushwhacking new pathways is to approach this with a sense of humor. “Wow, I rock at making a cup of coffee!” or “Look at me sweeping up this mess on the floor!” And seriously, one of my personal favorites, “Dang, I’m great at opening the fridge door!”
These are always followed by a deep inner chuckle from your Inner Witness and a high five for giving this part of you a voice! As you develop this pattern of catching yourself doing things right, it will gradually replace the old, familiar pathway of your inner critic. Then, your inner critic is transformed into wise discernment and fulfill its intended role.
- Practice self-compassion. Do you ever berate yourself for not having exercised in a long time or beat yourself up for saying the “wrong” thing? “Geez, I was supposed to do yoga/ to meditate every morning and I only made it once! I stink at following through.” Right?
Are you a human? Do humans “make mistakes”? Do you have a learning curve in just about everything? Of course you do. There’s a story of when Edison was experimenting with the light bulb and had tried close to 10,000 different materials without success. One of his assistants expressed a negative judgment around their progress, to which Edison replied, “What do you mean? We have successfully found 10,000 things that don’t work!”
Allow yourself to be human. Ask your Inner Witness to illuminate how you can be compassionate to yourself. “Congratulations for trying something new!” “Way to explore as many possibilities as possible. Now we know this doesn’t work.”
Remember how you would talk to a young child, or a puppy. Encourage yourself. Pick yourself up and dust yourself up and believe that you’ll get “there.” Instead of, “I haven’t _______ in so long!” you can say to yourself compassionately, “Hmmm… I must be coming up on an exercise/ meditating / painting… cycle!” Allow yourself to be perfectly imperfect.
- Ask yourself, “What do I desire most right now?” as much as possible. For most of us, our habitual thinking focuses more on what we “should” do or “have” to do rather than on what we desire. That can feel, or rather we’ve been conditioned to think that focusing on your wants is selfish or self-centered.
The truth is that you are being guided by your feelings of desire. Your life’s purpose or your soul’s calling reveals itself though it’s desires, what is attracting you or lighting you up. By asking yourself this question as much as possible you engage your Inner Witness who can then help you to choose that which will serve your highest path and most authentic expression.
I “have to” clean the house can also be transformed into, “I desire my home space to be more organized, clean, or welcoming.” Allow your Inner Witness to show you how you can still get life’s tasks completed from a place of desire rather than obligation.
Life is an inside out job. Getting to know and giving voice to your Inner Witness in these ways, will allow you to make more choices on a daily basis that will lead to greater personal fulfillment and overall well being. Without this awareness we are at the mercy of our habitual thinking— most of which you did not choose in the first place.
What thoughts are coming to mind right now? Witness them. Do you want to choose those thoughts or create new ones? It’s all up to you! Enjoy.
Whitney Freya is an Inspired Living Expert who teaches her clients how to develop their Inner Witness through a meditative personal painting practice. Her most recent book, 30 Days to Unstoppable, along with others, are available on Amazon in English, Spanish and on Audible. Connect with her and find her book at www.WhitneyFreya.com