Bringing on the Observer State by Observation

Powerful Mind Part 31
Created October 6, 2023

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.
Read Powerful Mind 30

“How observant of you!” We have all heard people say this from time to time, to us or to someone else. There is wisdom in everything that is said, often much deeper wisdom than even the person who says it is aware of. Old sayings especially.

The Observer state is more than being an observant person, although that is one aspect of the state.

We are embarking here on explaining Key #7, which is about the perceptions, the five senses, and the internal sense, the mind with its thoughts and feelings. Feelings include more than emotions; emotions are the bodily manifestations of our feelings. Thoughts are more than us talking to ourselves in our minds; thoughts include images, memories, hunches, and ideas we understand without using words in our mind.

These sensory systems bring us information about the world outside and inside.

Key #7 is about how to use these tools to further your Mission, and take care of yourself and other people better, by getting into the Observer state. Key #7 focused on how to do that using more powerful methods of observation. Other Keys aim to get you there by other strategies.

To review, the default network in the brain, what we call EOP (Emergency Oversimplification Procedure), is the most common state of most human beings. The mind wanders, impulses arise, and you choose which impulses to act upon based on the past. The brain part called the cerebellum, which is responsible for coordinating muscle control including movement and balance and much more, also acts like an AI to keep track of every event in your past and makes associations between event type, action taken, and result; and then sends you impulses to take specific action that would have been best, in that event type, in the past.

This is of course not a perfect way to make decisions. What if the event you are now embroiled in has never appeared in your life before, and the default events that are most similar and which the cerebellum therefore uses as proxies for your current situation, are really not close enough? What if none of the actions you took in the past were really all that effective? As explained in the chapters relating to Key #2, consistency is not really the best policy.

The cerebellum is part of the old brain, going back millions of years. 200,000 years ago our species evolved a frontal cortex specifically as an improvement on the earlier decision “optimization” system. This new part enables the executive control network in the brain, although all brain systems are distributed in many parts of the physical brain. This network is where you want to work from. The best way to shift gears to that network is though conscious metacognition, that is, by observing your own thinking and feeling. This will get you into the Observer state.

You can easily slip out of the Observer state into EOP (Emergency Oversimplification Procedure). The reason it is easy to slip out is distraction. The environment in what we call modern civilization is extremely distractive, unless you live alone in a cave. Another reason is long habit. Getting mad at yourself only makes things worse. Maintain your sense of humor, it’s another way of maintaining your sense of perspective. Perspective allows us to realize that minor slippages are usually unimportant in the greater scheme of things, and are valuable learning experiences if you use them that way. The old sayings that captured this include “don’t sweat the small stuff”, “no use crying over spilt milk”, and “practice makes perfect”. Key #4 also helps with this, reminding you not to keep score (because it trivializes you) but rather stay focused in the present.


Metacognition and the executive control network do not assure the onset of Observer state. Observer state is where you can identify impulses arising in you which come from ego. It’s not always obvious. And you’re in the Observer state when you can ignore such impulses, not act upon them.

Ego is a form of neediness, also known as attachment, where you experience negative feelings because something you have become needy of, is withheld.

If something you were born actually needing is withheld – like oxygen, food, water, certain temperature levels, health – it’s natural to have negative feelings, and would not fall into the category of ego.

Most of ego is related to esteem – the desire that other people esteem you. Such dependencies weaken you and get in the way of achieving a powerful mind.

One of the things you will be looking out for as you amp up the power of inner and outer observation is your own subtle neediness. Observer state is the powerful will that enables you to surmount those attachments. Renunciation of that neediness doesn’t mean stopping yourself from enjoying those things when they come your way, but you must have the will power to stop yourself from running after more of the same.

It will seem like the universe is testing your resolve (and that might be what is actually happening).

You make your will stronger by exercising it. Especially when you can discipline yourself. Be careful not to exercise your will by being domineering with other people.

As a first step toward internalizing Key #7, keep an eye out inside for signs of neediness and analyze what it exactly is. Imagine scenarios in which your ego gets the stroking you want and scenarios in which your ego is crushed and humiliated. You will sense progress when you realize you don’t care about that stuff so much anymore – the sting will have been taken out of such mortification incidents. You will have become a mensch.

Be vigilant from the start of each day to the end. It’s optional but very helpful to keep a journal noting when ego arose in you and what you felt and did about it.

After this useful preparation we shall begin to more directly address observation in the next post.

Love to all,

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