A simplified way of understanding the mind in so far as it relates to our thoughts and feelings is a term called the observing self. This is the observance of the fact that you are observing. From a quote from The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris is the observing self is a “state in which we dissociate from the external world and become aware of being aware”. This relates to your ability to observe the fact that you are having thoughts and feelings. You have the ability to notice many things – all things about your own perception and you’re own thoughts and feelings. The more you can do this, the more likely you are to NOT get caught up in your thoughts and feelings. This is an ability you can cultivate and grow.
The more you work on noticing your thoughts and feelings and not simply “being” them, the more your ability to not get caught up in them is strengthened. Getting caught up in your thoughts and feelings produces feelings of distress, anxiety and despair. This is a way to loosen their hold on you and be free of obsessive thoughts, rumination and unrelenting depressed mood. Grow and enhance your observing self at every chance you get by asking yourself questions like “what is happening to me right now? How does my body feel/am I tensing up/why is it tensing up?” Am I starting to become sad, am I starting to feel angry? Engage in a curiosity about this and trace the happenings that led you to feel this way. This type of gentle scrutiny can bring you closer to identifying with the observing self and NOT with your distress. Getting into this habit can ultimately leave you feeling more peaceful, less worried and less depressed.