Friday, March 15, 2013

Stalking the Elusive Ego in the Wild!

I believe that the ego is basically the same as our "rational" mind, or our "human" mind, whereas our intuition is the voice of our "higher self" or "God-self." Understanding our own true essence, that at our deepest core we are pure unconditional love, is death to the ego. The ego is all about "I", so when you finally understand that we are all LOVE, all ONE, that there is no "I", the ego ceases to exist or have function. So naturally, it is very invested in keeping us feeling fearful, guilty, ashamed and separate.

Over the course of the past week or so, I decided to make a study of my sneaky ego, stalking it in the wilds of my mind. It likes to lurk, unseen in the shadows watching for an opportunity to leap out and blind-side me.  Everything my ego does and says is designed to accomplish one thing; keeping me scared and thinking I am all alone in this world. By keeping me alienated and frightened it maintains control over me and my thoughts. I've uncovered a wide variety of strategies that it uses to derail me from my path of love, and I decided to document my not-so-scientific study. Here are some typical "sneak-attacks" used by my ego:

Finds fault and judges. By constantly finding fault and judging everyone else, my ego keeps me feeling superior, and separate. If that doesn't work, it starts finding fault and judging me, so I end up feeling terrible about myself, and unworthy of love.

Assigns blame and guilt. In many situations, usually of my own doing, my ego whispers that it's always "their" fault, that I am the innocent victim, creating a "me vs. the world" mentality and reinforces the idea of separateness. In other situations that are actually nothing to do with me, the ego assigns the guilt to me, making me feel like a horrible human being and not worthy of love, again creating a false sense of alone-ness.

Sabotages relationships. Our relationships are a huge threat to the ego, because if we truly allow ourselves to merge with another, our old wounds will be healed and we will understand the truth of our divine nature, seeing it reflected back in the eyes of another. So the ego sabotages our relationships by fault finding, judging, blaming and finding the "other" guilty and therefore "unlovable." This gives us a "legitimate" excuse to push them away and to avoid merging at all costs. This is especially true of our potential romantic partners. The ego goes into "overdrive" when we start to become involved with someone romantically, which is why many of us spend a lot of time alone and lonely. (Sometimes even while we're in a relationship!) Watch for words like "should" and "shouldn't", "always", and "never". These are red flags that your ego is in control and creating unrealistic expectations.

Focuses on the negative, in any situation. I am a pretty positive, upbeat person by nature, but my ego likes to try to bring me down. It points out the negative aspects, and reiterates all the scary, terrible things that "might" happen, trying to bring me from love to fear.

Takes everything personally.  The ego thinks "it's all about me". 99.9% of what other people do has nothing to do with you, but the ego will do it's best to convince you otherwise! It takes 99.9% of other people's actions personally, in order to create false shame and guilt, once again to keep you separate and alone.

Undermines my hopes and dreams. I recently attended a wonderful, very inspiring women's circle focused on putting our dreams and desires into the physical realm on vision boards. I left this event feeling so uplifted and excited for the future. However, the next morning as I looked over what I had created, the ego began to say things like "Who do you think you are, to be able to achieve these things??" and "Are you crazy? You don't deserve that, it will never come true!" This line of negative thinking was backed-up with lots of reasons such as "You're too old, too fat, too lazy, untalented" etc. I began to sink in to a miserable funk of fear that lasted 3 days until I realized that I had been ambushed by my ego!

Uses my old wounds to create new fears. I've noticed that my ego loves to remind me of old hurts and painful experiences. It pretends that it's only trying to protect me from being hurt again by dredging up these past memories, but in actuality it is creating fear where no fear need exist. This is not the past, and I am wiser now and better able to take care of myself. This is especially true when choosing to extend oneself in love to another, the ego loves to tell scary stories about a past time when I did this and was hurt. It is so determined to keep us from merging our heart with that of another!

Loves to kick me when I'm down. When I am tired, hungry, or hormonal the ego knows I am weak, so these are the times to be especially on guard against it's little schemes!

Denial. This is the sneakiest technique of all. Even as you are reading this post, it's likely your ego is telling you "these things don't apply to you, you're much smarter than that." HA! Don't fall for it. We all have ego, it's part of the human condition and unavoidable as long as you're on the earthly plane.

Strategies for dealing with the ego

"Fear is like a mist that obscures your heart's desire. If you have the courage and strength to walk bravely through, the mist will dissipate and disappear." I love this quote because it reminds me that like the mists of Avalon, fear is an illusion, a trick of the mind. But trying to struggle with and fight the ego only feeds it energy. So I have learned my own strategies for dealing with my sneaky ego, helping me to "walk through the mist":

Call it out. This is the hardest step, becoming aware of the false-fear voice and recognizing when these attacks are happening. The most important thing is to monitor your thoughts, and to notice when you have strayed from love into fear. When I notice my ego is up to it's tricks, I actually say out loud (assuming I'm alone!) "AHA!! I SEE YOU, SNEAKY EGO AND I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TRYING TO DO!!" This invariably makes me laugh, which leads to the next strategy.

Laugh at it! Some people come up with funny names for their ego, which is a wonderful tool. As I've blogged before, I picture my ego as the Wile E. Coyote in the roadrunner cartoons, always sneaking around, plotting and planning to take down my higher self. This also makes me laugh, which is the spiritual version of martial arts. When I am able to laugh at my ego, it is embarrassed to be caught in the act and turns it's tail and slithers off to it's cave to await another day.

Heal old wounds. "The purpose of adulthood is to finish the unfinished business of childhood." By going back and healing our old wounds, we take away the ability for the ego to use them to create weapons of fear with which to rule us. The ego really doesn't want you to do this though, and it will make up a million reasons for you to not do it, saying things like "It's too much work!" and "It's too hard/depressing/painful." These feelings are sure signs that this is something very important for you to do, if you want to truly move forward in your spiritual journey to love.

Pour love on it. I have discovered that the ego cannot stand the light, it shrinks and shrivels like the Wicked Witch of the West when Dorothy threw water on her. The ego is a bully whose ultimate goal is to make me feel badly about myself and others, in order to perpetuate the illusion of separateness. So when I start to have negative thoughts about myself, I stop and send love to me. I picture myself at age 5, and just as I would with any 5 year old being picked on by a bully, I tell her how much I love her, how wonderful she is, and I envision giving that precious child a hug. I take a look in the mirror and focus on all the good things I see there, and I tell my image "I love you!" I am finding that as I shine the light on all that is good in me, focusing on self-love, my ego shrinks and retreats. It can no longer use it's usual tricks of telling me how unworthy or unlovable I am, and loses it's power.

When I am feeling resistance towards someone else, and find myself wanting to distance myself or push them away, it is a sure sign that my ego has taken over. I've found it's actually a perfect moment to stop and look into the mirror that's being held up for me, and to learn something very valuable about myself that my ego doesn't want me to know! Any time you are not in a state of love, you have detoured into a state of fear. If I pay close attention when I am finding fault with someone else, I have an opportunity to learn something about ME. When someone "gets on your nerves", or "pushes your buttons" instead of focusing on them, focus on what is it in YOU that is so bothered by them? Usually it is something that I do myself, or that I really dislike about myself, or fear most about myself etc. The guilt I am seeing in them is actually my own, projected onto them. The ego is very invested in keeping you in a state of isolation, and aligned with fear, so it doesn't want you to see these things about yourself. So it makes it always about "them" and what "they" are doing. When it is someone else that the ego is criticizing or judging, I try to look at the person and focus on seeing the light-filled being within, choosing to accept them exactly as they are, and sending them love and blessings. Whether it's myself or others, by pouring love on the ego's target, I am taking away it's power!

When I am able to be awake and aware enough to notice my ego taking control, these strategies never fail to bring me back to being centered in the feelings of happiness, joy and compassion. Through acknowledging the ego's existence, and releasing my fears I am literally returned to my higher self, I am returned to our natural state of love.

Wishing you light, love and an ego-less state of mind!

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