A Little Dose Of Observation

When I first started writing in earnest — as a way to understand myself better, instead of just as a way to get paid — I was in a miasma of unease and confusion.

I was unhappy in my work, my relationship and my trajectory, and I could not for the life of me figure out why.

I was living in Austin, schvitzing it out every day in the Texas heat, and getting more miserable every day…

Because I thought that until I knew what was wrong, I would never be able to figure out how to change it.

But when I started writing — free writing in my journal, or responding to some prompt or idea that had stood out to me during the day — change started happening on its own.

Each day’s scribbling pushed back the tide of anxiety a little more, slowly revealing parts of myself that had long been submerged.

We know from both physics (the observer effect) and psychology (the Hawthorn effect) that the act of observation always equates to change.

Whether you’re observing particles or people, simply observing what they’re up to changes the demonstrated behaviour. 

And so even though I wasn’t consciously making any changes, just observing these small things was enough to start to reorient me.

It highlighted moments when I could have acted differently, and so I learned to be a better advocate for myself, and to trust my own thoughts and instincts more.

There wasn’t any great epiphany or lightning bolt moment — it took me years to really get to the root of the problem — but the writing gave me an opportunity simply to sit and look at it all.

It was like a daily huddle, where I could get a quick insight into what was going on, offer myself my best ideas on how to proceed, and play around with what might happen next.

Writing unlocked me for myself, by giving me a structured way to observe my life.

Often the only thing we need in order to cut through all the anxiety, confusion and frustration is a short stretch of time, a little quiet, and some pen on paper.

Giving yourself the chance to check in, to observe, to reorient — is a necessary and largely overlooked part of living the kind of life you actually want.

So give yourself that time, . Even just a few minutes alone to check in with how you’re feeling, and why, can plant the seeds of change.