Teaching a child precise observational skills helps that child survive successfully. I am thankful my parents each had an individual skill in observation.
My mother taught me objectivity through observing nature. As we rode in a car, she would point out to me how the fields, the woods, the animals, the streams, etc. had evolved since our last weekly shopping trip. Obviously we lived in the country. I took this skill learned from her for granted. Then when taking long car rides with psycho-spiritual students, they invariably commented, “You see so much more than I see.” And I remembered riding with Paul Solomon and saying to him, “You see so much more than I see.” Unfortunately most of us use too few of our observational skills. Fortunately we can choose to spend some time and energy with our faces out of our devices learning better use of our five senses to improve our personal relationships and our relationship to Mother Earth.
My father taught me to observe people objectively. My first trip to a big city airport with my father at age 10 was filled with wonder because there were so many people who were different from our farming community to observe. However, our game was to imagine what our observations meant and create stories of their lives. This was intentional editorializing after observing objectively. This is a useful activity for teaching children how to create short stories.
An interesting way to learn both observational skills and objectivity is to spend time at the window of a café with a friend. Your purpose at the window is to observe specifics. I started this exercise in Oslo when one of my female students said to me, “I just don’t get how to be objective. Isn’t there some exercise we can do in real life?” I decided to meet her need and we scheduled her next therapy session at a café for some real life observing.
Her first observations were, “Oh, look at that pretty sweet young mother comforting her baby.”
I asked her to back her observation up with reality. Finally, she got to: “I see a woman I believe to be approximately 22-26 years of age. She is pushing a baby in a stroller.”
“She has blonde hair shoulder length hair. Her facial features are balanced and even. Her skin is clear of marks, scars and blemishes.”
“She is bending down over her baby” (This was editorializing–she might have been babysitting.) Corrected to: “She is bending down over a baby in a stroller.”
“The baby is crying and she is talking to the baby with the corners of her mouth turned upward.” (Not she is comforting the baby—who knows we couldn’t hear the words.)
If you want to do this exercise: Choose a café with a large window where you are free to sit for a while. See how objectively you can describe the people going by to each other. Watch for editorializing, just give data and facts.
Objectivity can seem cold however, it is essential when beginning to learn balance in relationships and processing life with the 5 Steps of Clear Communication or the 5 Steps of Resolving the Past with the following steps that come after objectivity:
- What do I think about my observations?
- What do I feel about my thoughts about my observations?
- What do I feel about my feelings or what do I believe?
- What I decide to say or what action I decide to take.
More will follow on the remaining 4 steps that changed my life drastically for the better when I was 27. Those steps have helped me decide to get out of dangerous situations, to get away from stultifying life-sapping circumstances and to advance toward peace, joy, truth, harmony and beauty.