Books, Non-Fiction, philosophy

Philippa Perry on Self Observation


How to be Sane by Philippa Perry is a short, and surprisingly a good book to read. This book is a part of The School of Life series which takes a different approach to introduce self-help genre, in an intelligent way.

Philippa Perry is psychotherapist and in her book she offers some pragmatic insight on observing one’s attitude, reactions or thought process. She argues that there are four cornerstones to being sane, to being conscious. Self-observation is one. She suggests, we should start with:

The ability to observe and listen to feelings and bodily sensations is essential to staying sane.

Self-observation is an ancient practice and practising it certainly helps to take on those feelings which are hidden to us and in some situation might be getting used by them. Perry argues that if we we should not completely repress our feelings. Instead, we should acknowledge our feelings.

A feeling cannot be right or wrong, it is how we act out our feelings that is moral or immoral.

She suggests, to self-observe, we should form a habit in which we ask ourselves a particular set of questions that may help us to stay in complete consciousness. She calls it, the Grounding Exercise:

To begin with Self-Observing, ask yourself:

What am I feeling?

What am I thinking now?

What am I doing at this moment?

How am I breathing?

Another habit can be beneficiary is to keep a diary and writing our dreams in it. Dreams are fascinating to everyone because they dramatise the experiences and a part of our mind that we may not have processed in words to ourselves.

Keeping a diary to observe our conscious thoughts and can also be helpful to observe our behaviour and emotional habits. With this one can identify the similar patterns that are not helpful.


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