Be An Observer

Looking Down at Yourself

After doing meditation for years, reading about self-control/willpower stuffs, and receiving professional pilot training, I gradually notice an interesting status -- being an observer. This is in contrast with the status of being a star in your own stage, diving in the surroundings and reacting relying on the first reactions. Being an observer is more like you're watching "someone", which happens to be yourself, living and doing things, from above. It sounds a bit vague, and I'll try to describe such a status in the post... But it's a real feeling actually benefiting my life, not about getting high or an imaginary status.

Haha, Why Was That Guy Angry?!

I first experienced such feeling during meditation. Sometimes when feeling stressed or emotional, I listen to some meditation app. Not surprisingly, within minutes, I get back to "inner peace" again. During the meditation, a thought appears more and more often, why was I so angry/stressed/anxious just now? When looking at the situation as a third observer, it's often obvious that the stuffs troubling us is nothing more than a small wave in life. We were just so into "it", the desire, the peer pressure, the tendency to rush, too many tasks thrown at you... But actually in most cases, even if "it" gets totally screwed up, the life still won't change too much, not to mention such concentrating-on-the-too-near-future improves efficiency very little, if not in the opposite direction. What we need to do, which looks counter-intuitive for us in that specific moment, is to intentionally slow down, breath slowly, and relax. And this looks natural for any observer, including us after the emotional moment, or us looking at ourselves as an audience.

When It Comes to Time Management

Such an observer perspective is especially useful when managing time. From my experience, there look to be two different kinds of "focus". One is to focus one single affair, doing it for hours. And the other is to focus on whatever is at our hand, more like a stack -- whenever there is a new task ringing, you push the old one into a (possibly very shallow) stack. It makes one look like a hero multiprocessing a lot of jobs at the same time, but at the review time -- if one ever has the habit to review his/her performance -- the outcome generally looks shabby. Some important stuffs which you determined to invest most time on got the least attention, although it was started first. But something that can/should be handled by others received improperly much time. Possible solution? Jumping out of yourself, looking at you from an inch above, and laughing at that stupid poor guy aimlessly busy.

What would you do if you're the boss watching him/her?

"Oh that's easy. When being called, or requested to do something, s/he should first ask, is the new-coming task urgent?"

See? You look so calm and professional when commenting or teaching others. Let's continue, if not extremely urgent, simply throw it into a drawer and come back to it later. This is the inbox of GTD style time management. But, it's too easy to dive in the most recently received tasks and be a multitask hero, because that only requires you to follow the first reaction, just like eating a cheesecake or drinking a soda, with possibly only one difference that it makes you have a fake achieving feeling instead of making you feel guilty. Solution? Treating yourself not like self, but another person. Be an observer, and you can get the lost 100 points IQ back.

It's also interesting to be an observer instead of (in addition to) being a participant in social interaction. After observing rather than only naturally reacting to the conversation, I also see more about what others want in their talking and how they try to achieve it, especially how my mood was manipulated by their tricks.


Being an observer to myself is more to observe than to change, although I did change to a better me. We naturally treat others more critically than to ourselves, and subconsciously overlook our bad aspects (which are called bad habits). And observing yourself as if it was someone else brings such critical attitude back. Furthermore, being an observer also makes us feel patient, relaxed, anticipate and endure more difficulties. Learning to reach such a status is similar to learning anything else, practice. Try to observe yourself. If the "dive" begins, that doesn't matter. Just bring the attention back to the big picture. Meditate more, read more, try to practice and feel being an audience instead of a star in our stage. And say, good luck to you, $YourName.