Category Archives: Observer State

Bringing On the Observer State

Volume 2, Issue 19

As we wrote in the last post, the best strategy for getting into the Zone is to start by slipping into the far more easily achieved Observer state.

Doing anything to master oneself cognitively and/or emotionally involves mental trickery of the culturally-induced false self we call the ego. I prefer the term “robot” because this power center is built out of neuronal software, so the word “robot” helps to remind ourselves that we are dealing with a stubborn biocomputer system not unlike the overly helpful systems installed on most of our personal computers. We cooperated in setting up these well-intentioned programs, which today have taken over the castle so completely that we identify with these systems as if they are the true us.

There is actually a gap we estimate to be less than a tenth of a second in which a suggestion/command from the robot is not yet identified as being our own intention. When in the Zone state we can instantly detect it as an ego command that we can choose to ignore. A lot like playing Simon Says.

In the Observer state the modus operandi is to set oneself up to not act immediately on inner impulses. This way, one has time to realize a moment after the fact that the impulse seemed intelligent for a second but in retrospect — having not yet acted upon it — we see the impulse as just another clever ego-driven strategy masquerading as our own true self.

This is the Observer state — so named because one is observing oneself as well as everything else. Before accepting the mantle of an emotion that raised its hand as one’s own, or taking physical action, or accepting a point of view offered by a thought, one waits for good sense to settle in.

In the hurly-burly of Acceleritis, the ubiquitous condition of our culture, taking this contemplative mental/emotive state requires us to be motivated to exercise our true will and understand as a prime directive that we cannot achieve our goals in the real world unless we are centered within our own highest true self, not being manipulated by our fear-impelled robot. Motivation combined with understanding are the only foundation that will allow us to overcome the chemically-supported (hormones, adrenalin, cortisol, norepinephrine, etc.) domination of our moment-to-moment emotions. It is mighty tempting to accept anger and self-righteousness whenever these feelings arise in response to valid cases of unfairness and injustice, which no doubt abound. Yet taking on these emotions makes us virtually helpless to right the wrongs since our negativity only fans the flames. Remembering this is the way one stays in the Observer state.

It’s also helpful to remember that the true hero acts in freedom, nobly and objectively with compassion, and is not the puppet of the emotional mind control instituted by habituated stimulus-response trigger cascades.

In mastering one’s mechanical behaviors, one is always negotiating the landscape of a devilishly challenging inner videogame, using one’s own tricks learned from mistakes made along the way, peeling away layer after layer and rising higher and higher in the game.

This is our intuitive and scientific (i.e. subject to verifiability) decoding of the advice given by the ancient psychologies of the East and West, Raja and Jnana Yogas, Zen, Kabbalah, Early Christianity, Hermetism/Gnosticism/Alchemy, the true Great Jihad, known by innumerable other names in other cultures. All detected the same inner battle and described it metaphorically, having no information-processing framework in which to describe it transparently.

Now we have such a framework. Each individual reading this has access to his or her own mind and emotions and therefore can test and verify our statements. Doing so will not only benefit the individual but will tend to bring more of us into higher states of functional effectiveness, where we will all serve each other more effectively than before.

Best to all,


The Importance of Observer State in Relation to the Zone

Volume 2, Issue 17

We all love to see people performing in the Zone. The Olympics is only one of the more obvious proofs of this. Actors, musicians, singers, athletes — these people are the focus of a large proportion of our time spent in conversation, especially athletes. We tacitly assume it’s just because we’re interested in the sport, or want to dream about having the kind of life they have, and there’s truth to all that — but some unsuspected portion of our interest has to do with an unconscious desire to be in the Zone, the Flow state, ourselves.

The superheroes in cartoons and movies are another manifestation of our ancient dream. Deep down inside we know we have secret powers that come out when we least expect them and are gone in a flash. Or they surface when we face the severest challenges of our lives. Old women are suddenly briefly able to carry people to safety. Within the Flow state are levels that provably increase “psychic powers” as measured by the Rhine card method. Because the Flow state is so dramatic and amazing, we have focused on heuristics to attain and maintain Flow as the prelude to a serious discussion of the Observer state. Now it’s time to turn our attention for a while to the Observer state. Why? Observer state is the precondition for Flow. It’s also a thousand times easier to get into Observer state, which brings with it a highly significant increase in creative effectiveness and a sharp reduction in emotional suffering.

The purpose of our book Freeing Creative Effectiveness is to provide ways of thinking and openness to perceptual information, hunches, and feelings that make it easy and effortless to thereafter slip into Observer state. Our premise is that more Flow state experiences will be created this way than by trying to help people get directly into the Flow state.

Here’s how you will know when you are in the Observer state:

  • You’ll detect an internal mental toughness that makes you demand proof from yourself about the thoughts you are having, and you find yourself being honest with yourself.
  • You’ve engaged your fatalism and whatever you would normally be afraid of losing you are now prepared to deal with, regardless of what happens.
  • Your attention is highly focused and you are too calm to be distractible.

You might find it interesting and useful to keep notes of times you catch yourself in this state, and times when you are brought down from this state (“triggered” as my great new friend Dr. Phillip Romero would say) into what I call Emergency Oversimplification Procedure (EOP), where you are joylessly trying to keep up with tasks in an atmosphere subconsciously charged with dread of failure.

As longtime readers have detected, most of my posts are about how to move from EOP to Observer and Flow states (“the Zone”). Indeed, this is the aim of my life and the purpose of the Human Effectiveness Institute.

Hope you are all keeping cool in the current weather wherever you are.

Best to all,