Finding Our True Selves


This is a photo of me when I was little—Mum took it. The relevance to this post will become clear as you read on!

I’d like to share with you a visualisation exercise the group did once at a workshop I attended. I do this exercise now and then in my head when I want to settle myself—I found myself doing it this afternoon because I have been feeling out of sorts and unfocused for a little while now. 

I’m not suggesting it will change everything if you do it, should you feel the need, but you might like to add it to your list of handy tools.

The exercise

We were asked to close our eyes and imagine ourselves 5 years previously, and to notice what we looked like, how we felt, and what we were doing. Then 10 years previously, and make the same observations.

Then to keep going back 5 years at a time, until we reached…

20 years old

15 years old

10 years old

5 years old

as young as we could remember, 

…making the same observations for each age.

Then we were asked to notice that although we had changed over the years, the part of us that was observing ourselves has always been the same.

And that this part of us is always in a state of ecstasy.

The observer

I believe that the “observer” part of us is actually our higher selves, the aspect of ourselves that is beyond our personality/body structure. When we are in touch with that part of ourselves, we can see and understand much further. When we are in touch with that part of ourselves, we can feel the ecstasy.

* * *

Comments are very welcome!

31 thoughts on “Finding Our True Selves

  1. Ribbon

    How lucky are we as human beings to know that we are able to observe ourselves.

    As the observer you are able to conciously decide what serves you and what doesn’t.
    Behaviours attitudes or whatever that are of no good for you will quickly slip away when you are the observer.
    It’s great to observe yourself without judgement and to see things for what they are.
    Daily meditation is an awesome tool for being the observer.

    Best wishes

    PS the photograph and you in it are very beautiful

  2. Ribbon

    Hi Robin me again. I’ve just become aware that you have mentioned that you still can’t comment on my blog!
    Very odd hey………. I’m receiving lots of comments and have no idea why it’s not available for you.

    Sorry that’s happening and unfortunately due to my lack of technical skills I’m unable to resolve that for you.

    Thank you for trying though and call again if you’re up for it and see what happens.
    I completely understand if you can’t be a—-!

    Best wishes 🙂

  3. Daphne

    Hi Robin,

    I love the pic of you as a little girl. And yes the self that observes is the same. I never thought about it being in ecstasy but I suppose that makes sense because by observing our earlier selves, the observing self is fully in the present and that is a source of joy.

  4. Betsy Wuebker

    Hi Robin – Lovely photo! You’re so cute!

    Pointing out that the self-observer is always the same age would perhaps be an answer to the paradox of getting older chronologically, but still “feeling” like the child inside.

    My girlfriends and I are in our fifties, and there have been some hilarious stories circulating among us about certain things that happen to your appearance at this age. But, there is also the undercurrent of “omg, is that really me in the mirror or that photo? Who is that old woman?”

    The observing self is the true self, or perhaps the soul if one wants to speak in those terms. It is the entity that peers out from our spine through the mask via our eyes at the world.

  5. Miguel de Luis

    Hi Robbin, it seems like a great exercise to share and do. Sometimes I find myself doing this, like wondering who I really am, am I still that boy of twelve? I guess most of my body cells from that time have been dead long ago, ideas have changed, the way I think too. The only things that it remains is the one who loves.

    Miguel de Luiss last blog post..The writer’s report: Setting the novel up

  6. Vered - MomGrind

    I was reading Ribbon’s comment and thinking – are we indeed lucky to have self-awareness or is it more a curse than a blessing? Sometimes I don’t know.

    Also wanted to say that photo is remarkably cute, and comparing it to your more recent photo, you have the exact same twinkle in your eyes that you used to have back then!

  7. Marelisa

    Hi Robin: I think there’s a difference the ego and our true self. The incessant chatter in our head is our ego trying to make sense of the world within its limited comprehension, while our true self can listen to our ego’s chatter and remind it that it needs to calm down and that everything is fine. And I agree with the consensus: very cute photo 🙂

  8. Dot

    I love that photograph! I love daisies and toddlers, and put them together — great! I haven’t done that exercise, but I’ve done one where you identify the observer and the observed selves. My observer always seems more detached and unemotional than ecstatic. However, sometimes even that is a big improvement.

    Dots last blog post..OpenOffice Extensions

  9. Evelyn Lim

    What a lovely picture! You’ve got that slight smile of contentment!

    If I am to do the same visualization exercise, I’d be observing that I’ve been pretty much an observer. When I was young, I spent a great deal of time in a playpen. Through the grills of the playpen, I’d be observing the world going by. I’d be observing a series of events, but yet never participating.

    As I write my comment to this point, I’m also observing that I’ve been observing that I’ve been observing. It’s awareness watching awareness watching awareness. Illusion shatters.

    Evelyn Lims last blog post..Installing Love On the Human Computer

  10. Teresa V

    I absolutely love this website.
    I am planning on writing a paper for my writing class
    on your subject of visualation and how it can be helpful to all people.
    Thank you so much for leading me to sight.
    Portland, Oregon

  11. Davina

    Hi Robin. What a lovely picture! That’s one wise little girl I see there.
    We could entertain ourselves endlessly as observers. I’m forever “watching”. I have to agree with Dot about my observer. Mine feels more subdued and pensive than ecstatic — and that is fine. I love my observer — hey, I think my observer of the observer is ecstatic about observing.

    Davinas last blog post..The Morning Muse — Just Write

  12. Kelly@SHE-POWER

    I’ve done this exercise in a therapy session and I’ve gone 5 years into the future too. It’s surreal and yes, also very good at showing you that there really is an ‘I’ in I AM. At the same time, I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t aware that there was an observer distinct from my body who would watch the world, my thoughts and my emotions go by. I would astral travel a lot at night as a kid and I though I have only done it once in the past 10 years, I can still clearly remember what is is to look down on your sleeping body moments before you enter it and awake for a new day. It really is magical.


  13. Robin

    @Ribbon – yes – being in observer mode is a great way to shift habits quickly, and I was hoping someone would mention meditation! (I’ve now found when I used my Firefox for Mac I could leave a comment, but with my Safari for Mac the verification image was missing – I’ve found before that the default comment system on Blogger is fine with Safari.) Thanks about the photo!
    @Daphne – yes that’s interesting – that we are fully in the present moment when we are doing the observing, so feel the joy of that.
    @Betsy – well thankyou! I notice you are using a cute photo of yourself in a tub as an avatar! Interesting observations – and I do think older people feel like a kid inside – it’s something young people don’t usually understand (perhaps?)
    @Miguel – yes – “The only things that it remains is the one who loves.” – I agree!
    @Tess – thanks – that’s interesting about doing it for the future.
    @Vered – I guess it depends on how we use that self-awarness. It’s funny, but until I read your comment I hadn’t actually looked carefully at my face – I had just looked at the overall picture. Thanks, Vered.
    @Marelisa – I like your example Mare! And thanks! 🙂
    @Dot – Mum loves daisies, too. Maybe, as you say, “detached and unemotional” can be quite a good thing at times – I could perhaps have said in the post that I experience the “ecstasy” as a quiet, calm sort of ecstasy, but I wanted to keep the post as bare bones as I could, so as not to influence people’s observations.
    @Evelyn – Thanks! That’s interesting about the playpen – I wonder whether it influenced you, and has anything to do with your huge imaginative creativity.
    @Teresa – hi there and welcome! Thanks Teresa – all the best with your paper.
    @Davina – Thanks – but I don’t know about wise! Well, maybe we all have a wisdom of sorts at that age. There has been a fair bit of observer-watching going on in this comments section!
    @Kelly – how lovely! I’ve never heard the experience of astral travel described as magical. That’s interesting how you have always been in touch with your observer, and thanks for letting us know about your “travelling”, Kelly!

  14. Cath Lawson

    Hi Robin – What a cute baby you were. And the daisies in Australia are absolutely huge.

    This sounds like a really good exercise to try. Do you do all the ages in one session or seperate. How long would you recommend to spend doing this exercise?

    I missed this yesterday. I think I was in total shock when I read your post about the fires.

    Cath Lawsons last blog post..There’s Always A New Kind Of Shit To Deal With

  15. Robin

    Hi Cath – they are rather large daisies!

    I do the exercise fairly quickly – I just spend enough time on each stage to make the observations, then move on. That’s how I remember doing it in the workshop.

    I’d think that to stay in observer mode you’d not want to get too tied up in any one stage.

  16. Evelyn Lim

    I don’t know if it has been a positive thing to be kept in a playpen. I’m thinking it’s stifling more than anything for a child. I didn’t have the same for my kids. I prefer that they are outside to explore, to experience.

    Still, it’s interesting to be observing, not participating and not concluding either. The world is like a stage of characters playing out their egos. Not that I don’t have one myself! So I’m observing myself too!

    Evelyn Lims last blog post..Installing Love On the Human Computer

  17. Stacey / Create a Balance

    Love the photo – you are simply adorable. I enjoyed going back 5 years ago. I was a new mom with a 5 week old baby. It goes to show how much can change in 5 years. It was great flashing through time recognizing my “observer” has been with me from the very beginning.

    Stacey / Create a Balances last blog post..Happy Anniversary Giveaway

  18. Patricia

    I first want to say you have two lovely pictures at the top of the page and were a lovely toddler in the field of flowers – Thank You I just had to rest there and enjoy.

    I have done this exercise just recently visualizing forward and back and enjoying the different thoughts that come with each landing. I think I am uncluttering some of the painful parts of my life right now – letting go of the childish thinking and making some things less important and letting go of others. It helps me move forward and feel freer about my future observations.

    Thank you for this nice reminder of a good exercise.

    Patricias last blog post..Diva Model on the Runway – Heads Up!

  19. Robin

    @Evelyn – actually I was thinking that could have been the case – we generally provide children with an interesting environment in order to stimulate their imaginations, don’t we. Thanks for visiting again, Evelyn.
    @Tom – actually I am Tom – and thankyou for your comment!
    @Stacey – Oh shucks, Stacey! I know you have always been the same!
    @Patricia – thanks Patricia! I really appreciate your comment – I’m glad you find this exercise useful – I do it now and then.

  20. Natural

    I can actually believe that – we are our higher selves, looking back. I was able to do this exercise, but not in much detail. My childhood is something I really wish I could remember more of. i sometimes feel like i never really started living until i was in my late 20’s.

    Naturals last blog post..Answer: A River Runs Through It

  21. Ivan Campuzano

    Thanks for the exercise Robin, very beneficial. I totally agree with you about being the observer of your life.Through mediation you will discover and catch glimpses of a state of consciousness that is truly not self conscious. Your ultimate realization will be when you know and feel that your true identity is consciousness itself, rather than what your consciousness had identified with. Believing that you are your ego and thoughts will push you in the direction of judgment, comparison, and insist on being right. Be yourself, become the observer of your life, learn to create your life from the perspective of the observer. Experience is relative to you, it’s your life. When you have little or no awareness of your inner world, you are a victim of circumstances because you operate only by reaction.

    Ivan Campuzanos last blog post..How To Create a New Day and A New You

  22. LisaNewton

    I tend to do this when I feel a little down because 5 years ago, my life was a mess, and not it’s much better.

    It takes time to really find yourself, and as life changes, it’s great to look back at the good and bad.

    I also love the idea of looking into the future, as suggested in a couple of comments. This helps keep me on the path I’ve planned for myself.

    The past and future are so interconnected and looking at both really gives a great perpective……………..:)

  23. Robin

    @Natural – I actually feel I started living in my 20s too, or even 30s. It’s funny, isn’t it? Thanks about the pic!
    @Ivan – Hi there and lovely to hear from you.”When you have little or no awareness of your inner world, you are a victim of circumstances because you operate only by reaction.” – I quite agree!
    @Cath – all the best with everything, Cath
    @Lisa – Hi there and welcome! I agree – really finding ourselves can take quite a while, for many of us. Thanks for your comment!

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