Tag Archives: Metacognition

Stripping Away Imposed Limitations

Powerful Mind Part 29
Created September 22, 2023

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.
Read Powerful Mind Part 28.

We have all been brainwashed. It was not done because of any conspiracy. It arose naturally as a result of the original minorities that seized power, the education systems and other structures that bloomed in the environments of those governments, the media the species invented, the economics of media and marketing in the world as it became.

The world we came into, the best intentions of our parents, and our own tabula rasa impressionability, did the rest. Operant conditioning was applied “accidentally”. Our parents wanted to prepare us for life with all its warts and so their advice was designed to help us avoid mistakes they had learned from, painfully. We of course insisted on learning for ourselves. By the time our childhood peers became more influential upon us than our parents had been, most of our behaviors, gestures, facial expressions, comments, likes, dislikes, and tendencies had already been conditioned by family influences including the friends of the family to whom we were exposed.

We were more like little imitative monkeys than we realized. We were generally not cognizant of how what we thought of as our self was being formed by others. Later in life we all realize it to some degree sooner or later. Some of us more than others, upon realizing this insidious process and how it shaped what we thought of as our own thinking, rebelled. Without realizing it perhaps, we repressed anger at our parents for having controlled our belief systems and values to the degree they had. We suddenly valued independent thinking as a thing that had never mattered to us before. Often in the process of trying to differentiate ourselves from those who had influenced our development, we came around to realize years later that the fight against the early conditioning had led a circular path right back to performing along the early ingrained lines anyway.

How can we in reality make a clean permanent break from the brainwashing we endured, and continue to endure each day?

How can we take charge of ourselves, stripping away the external influences, and will we find anything left of ourselves once we have done that? How scary to feel that without all the mimicry programs there might not be a “self left to stand on”? Never fear. You do have a real self under all that. Your dreams and visions and hunches tap into the roots of your individuality even though they may be tainted by external influences too. Which is why it is a good idea to pay attention to your deepest thoughts, feelings, images, memories, and to analyze and understand what the mean, what your non-conscious mind is trying to communicate to your conscious mind.

This is all about you and your life, what you want to do with the blank canvas, which by now has scribbling all over it.

Don’t trash the scribbling because it too has messages that will help you understand yourself. Everything you have done – even things you now regret – is of positive value to you as learning experiences, and you have probably not yet extracted all of the learning you can get out of each experience. Looking back over your life as we did in the previous post – especially the memories that still evoke emotion in you – is for the purpose of extracting the remaining lessons. Once you have fully assimilated an experience that has always made you feel guilty and ashamed, those feelings will no longer have any sting.

Metacognition – studying yourself – can actually unwind emotional blocks and take the sting out of “bad” memories. That is not the only benefit of metacognition, but it’s an important one.

How much have you gotten out of this series of posts so far? One way to look at that is to remember the “wants” that came into your mind when you read the post “What Do You Really Want?” which was posted on September 8, 2023. Hopefully you took notes either on paper or in a device and kept those notes, and if so, you can review them now. In any case, what you can do right now is to repeat the short exercise of writing down the things you want, and even if you have no notes, you can think about how the wants you write down now might have changed since September 8. Your inner processes are not all at the conscious level, so you could be surprised at noticing that certain things you said you wanted a couple of weeks ago now don’t seem as important to the you of now. And maybe other wants have risen higher recently.

Think about this for a moment: which wants do you want to have, and which wants would you rather not have?

There could be things that used to drive you, and caused you painful experiences – these may be wants you don’t want to have any more.

Also, I have found that it helps to throw off desires I have by plumbing the depths of where did I get that want in the first place? Once I discover how a want was planted in me, it makes it all the easier to cast off that want or to dial it down.

One of the most pernicious wants – especially if it becomes a need – is the desire for approval by others. Self-approval is of course a bedrock requirement. If we don’t like ourselves for any reason, we are going to be undermining ourselves, like a scorpion continuously addicted to constantly stinging itself. Why be that way? It’s an insult to the opportunity of life itself. You have to be on your own side. If something is preventing that, it’s a top priority to contemplate that first, and conquer it, no matter what else you might have to give up or dial down.

Whereas self-approval is a good thing, the need for approval from others is very undermining. Catch yourself justifying yourself to others, it is evidence that your need for the approval of others is causing you to act in a pathetic manner. Not everyone around you is sharp enough to see that consciously, but everyone can sense that you are needy without clarifying that into words in their own minds. Do you really want to appear needy to others? Is that really going to help you accomplish what you wish to accomplish in your life? Best to edit out those words that your impulsive default network sends to your tongue to enunciate.

What are you going to accomplish with the remainder of your life? What is your mission, your purpose, your goals? How are you going to deliver the gifts you have been given to the rest of the world. How are you going to leave something behind that will make you feel fulfilled when you breathe your last breath?

Love to all,

Keeping Score Is Mundane Thinking

Powerful Mind Part 26
Created September 1, 2023

Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.
Read Powerful Mind 25

We have been conditioned to rate how well we have performed for other people. Our parents told us we were “a good boy” or “a good girl” at times, and “bad boy” or “bad girl” at other times. Gradually we became more aware of which things would get us which rating, and played to that scorecard. Now, all these many years later, that same approval-seeking program still has independent existence in our minds.

It is what it is. Good and bad are just labels we paste on real things. This labeling has positive outcomes when it helps guide us toward benefitting living things and away from disadvantaging them. But the way we are constantly labeling ourselves moment to moment is a neurotic pattern that is mostly counterproductive.

We also carry around a certain amount of unforgiven guilt, probably as deeply repressed as we can make it. We regret some things we did in our past and some part of us refuses to ever forgive ourselves for it. Even if we act out such a forgiveness it tends not to take the first few times.

These related behaviors use up a certain amount of cognitive capacity that holds us back from Flow state. Our thinking remains petty because of these old wounds and ongoing concern with how well we are performing moment to moment. These are just more attachments we have, conditions we have counterproductively established that do not permit us to feel good about ourselves, nor enjoy the now, unless we can prove ourselves to ourselves every moment. As if we can never be good enough.

Self-rating is irrelevant. We need to relieve ourselves of the burden of constant self-judgment. This is really the ego, presenting the masks that we think people want to see from us. Just more other-directed conditioning, that is preventing us from exercising free will and being in Flow.

Observer state enables us to clear the slate of all mundanities arising within our robotic false selves, as they arise. Like shooting down a missile while it is just leaving the launching pad. We actually have enough attention to be able to pay close watch on what is going on both inside us and around us at the same time. But not if we are unable to control our own attention. If we are living in fear that fear can cause us to be distracted by sounds or movements in the periphery of our vision.

This is why for thousands of years empiricists in all world cultures have trained themselves and others to be able to concentrate, and to ignore distractions and stay single-pointed. Without the ability to concentrate, metacognition becomes much more difficult if not impossible, and Flow state is likely to never occur.

Among the exercises practiced in some cultures is the burning out of fear, by meditating next to a corpse or in a graveyard. My preferred method is to imagine the feared event happening, and working out what one will do if it happens. Once you see yourself having the guts to ride through the feared situation with your head held high, the fear abates.

Getting rid of fear is part of getting rid of distractions, attachments, and other common habits of people who do not know about the higher states of consciousness they are giving up to hang onto these primitive mental ways.

Instead of keeping score on yourself, just let those impulses float away downstream.

Those scorings will otherwise either pump up your ego, making it more capable of distracting and fooling you, or they will undermine your confidence. Either way they will detract from your future performance. In effect, when you give yourself a bad score at moment #1, you are increasing the odds of giving yourself an even worse score at moment #2.

It is more logical and practical for you to recognize the value of the mistake you just learned from, because it makes you much less likely to make the same kind of mistake again, so in effect you ought to be rewarding yourself for having gotten that mistake out of the way as soon as possible.

But the best path is the one that lets all the scoring disperse as quickly as it tries to grab your attention. With a little practice this is not so difficult. That’s why this is the shortest chapter in this serialized book Powerful Mind.

If something is happening, going with the flow of it is generally the best practice, unless you are certain it is not who you are to go along with that. If something is happening that is against your highest principles you should not go along with it. What you might do is ask a question without seeming to take sides. This gives you the most potential leverage to correct the situation, although others with similar principles might misunderstand your actions. Not being attached to what others might think of you temporarily or permanently frees you to do the most good by your own lights.


You are what you control. Your body and mind may not currently be entirely under your control. Deeply habituated ego conditioning may control your emotional reactions faster than you can stop them. This can feel frustrating and you might be tempted to blame yourself for it. However, if you do not currently control those things, it would be unfair to blame you. Leave aside the blame and simply persevere to take over your own castle knowing that in the end it cannot stop you from taking over.


Balance and moderation are two of the great virtues taught by classical Greek Philosophy, Taoism, and to some extent by all spiritual traditions as well as inner exploration psychologies. The ability to deal with every moment is maximized by not over reacting, taking everything in stride, not throwing people out of your heart based on something said or unsaid, not being so fervent about your high principles that you get sucked into attachment to them and passionate rejection of what seem like opposite principles. Everything is connected. Dichotomies exist in the mind but what is, is one connected whole.

Key #5

Self-rating is irrelevant.
This is radical new mental strategy #5,
the fifth simple key to the doorway
of the upper mind.

Love to all,