Excerpt from The Missing Element: Inspiring Compassion for Human Condition
The Observer—the witness, our soul, our higher self — helps us to see things objectively, as they really are. It’s a stance of both wisdom and compassion. It allows us to step off the worrisome ego stage of our lives and look back and review things from afar. From this more distant viewpoint, our dramas and stories are less compelling and distracting, and even endearing and sweet. “Aww, look what that silly ego is doing again,” says the Observer. “How sweet!”
The Observer is one of the “Missing Elements”—the part of yourself that enables you to understand your quirky personality beyond judgment, as though you were an angel looking back at your human nature. Your Observer, the witness, the wise, quiet, soulful voice has the ability to teach, tame, and support your ruthless ego. When invited in, it says, “Hey, you’re doing that thing again. You’re lost in the drama. It’s okay. Slow down. Take a breath. You’re doing the best you can.”
Can you feel the compassion here? No judgment, just gentle noticing.
The Observer cultivates humility and a soft approach to life. It helps you become good at saying things that your ego will cringe at such as, “I am sorry, I need help, I made a mistake and I was wrong.” The Observer allows us to come out from behind the mask of the protective ego and become transparent and real. All healers or good teachers spend lots of time in the land of the observer.
Imagine a huge, horseshoe-shaped, glass-bottomed observation deck anchored in a limestone cliff of the Grand Canyon—4,000 feet above the chasm below. Look up, the turquoise sky appears endless and you can literally see for miles in all directions. Look down and the Colorado River appears as a slim, pea-green ribbon, and the burro-riding tourists below look smaller than fleas. It’s a wonderful view, because with so much perspective you can’t focus on the little things. All you see is the majesty of the view, held under a magnificent sky. This is the Observation deck where the Observer lives.
Once on deck, be prepared for the emergence of kindness, because this is what happens when you step back from trying to micromanage your every move so you’ll look good. The Observer is compelled to heal, to care, to love you—unfortunately it’s constantly sabotaged by the ego. My job as a therapist and an astrologer is to assist you in falling in love with exactly who you are—your quirky, egoic personality—and also to introduce you to the partner of your dreams—your compassionate Observer who will laugh and shrug and sweetly say, “Hey, you’re doing fine—try again.” The fact is, you can’t change who you are. Your emotional reactions and sensitivities are not going to be plucked out like an ingrown hair. We are a manufacturing agency of human nature stories. So just notice and adjust your behavior from a place of love.
You can read all the spiritual books you like, you can sit on cushions, eat brown bread, and drink protein powder, but when your ego is triggered and or violated it will, without a doubt, react, throw a fit, cry, scream, hide, or ramble on depending on your personality type. Every ego on this planet has some pretty immature qualities, nothing that the Observer can’t poke fun at, learn from and possibly even adjust over time.
One teacher with whom I studied said that once you develop your Observer nothing can hurt you—the ego will be quieted and calmed. Even if arrows of trauma and pain were shot in your direction and hit you, once aware, the pain would just land at your feet. She said, “No one can ever make you angry when you are in your Observer.” That’s not true for me.
My teacher was very spiritual, and in fact, in almost every spiritual circle and psychological model, the ego gets a bad rap. We’re told to step over it, listen with our souls and to identify with our higher selves. Trying to be “good” is a great hobby—however I have a new job for you: accept the fact that you, just like everyone else, are a flawed humbled human. We all feel and we all fail. Don’t fool yourself—no one is made of Teflon. I can assure you, having worked as a therapist with so many people, much of your faulty childhood sticks to you whether you know it or not. It’s what shaped you and made you.
We all grow up wounded in some way; we weren’t seen, we felt ashamed because of the way we looked, the things we said. We were punished for upsetting our parents when all we wanted was to be loved. We live in reaction to some version of an old story year after year. We think it’s real, that we really are unlovable and somehow different, so the punishment continues inside our minds.
When the relationship ends, when you are cheated on, when you lose your job or find out the sky is falling, you will react. Human nature is a reactive machine, impulsive and emotional. And funnily enough, I love this about being human. I have been shocked and amazed by human nature—when those I thought to be my best friends have suddenly become my worst enemies. I have cried an ocean from my confusion over how I could have loved so deeply and then have been forced by life to let go. Our experience here on Earth demands that we learn to let go of our lovers, partners, best friends, parents, children, and our pets. It is painful and sad.
The Guru was found crying for days over the death of his son. His followers found him and pleaded, “Stop crying, teacher. There is no need to be sad.
Let go.” And he said, “Leave. I will cry for as long as I need to. It is my gift as a human.” Such simple wisdom. The shortest verse in the Bible: “Jesus wept.” No amount of spirituality can take away the stinger of sadness, or despair—it is a beautiful truth: we all are human and vulnerable. This is what makes us loveable.
While the ego can make things worse, turning our experiences into high drama, the Observer plays fair, and is your ticket to the land of non-judgment where you take nothing personally, especially yourself. The art is to fall in love with who you are, ego and all, and to meet ourselves and others with an open heart.
This was excerpted with permission from The Missing Element: Inspiring Compassion for Human Condition by Debra Silverman.