I had a late night call from a friend over the weekend. She was coming unraveled.
Telling me her story, I could hear how it made sense… and yet, she seemed wild, outraged, ready to lynch someone.
The level of her upset did not match the situation she was describing.
The ego had landed.
We all have an ego. Nobody is exempt. Except maybe Jesus or Buddha. Just kidding! They talked about the ego all the time. Beware of peeps who tell you they don’t have one. Learning to not listen to your ego is a very different thing from saying you don’t have one.
When I first begin to address ego with friends in session, there’s this goofy period where they think I’m accusing them of having done something bad or I am accusing them of acting all high and mighty. And so at first, it’s hard to find the common ground for us to discuss ego. I call this the boxing stage. Their ego wants to go ten rounds with my ego and be declared the champ. Deep breathing is always helpful for me in those moments. I’ve gotten better at this as the years have gone on, but there are plenty of times when I can feel myself climbing into that ring ready to give them the knock-out punch.
A healthy ego is a good thing.
It helps us express who we are in the world in a fun, funky, quirky, and cool way. In fact, I wrote a hot-fab-fantastic post on this very subject: Rock it like you mean it: owning your shizzle. Yes, see? I am SO the cat’s meow (meow! meow!).
I am not at all talking about denying your fabulousness and training yourself to play small.
But your inner Darth Birdie? Now that one is a problem…
Your ego is the saboteur of your journey. It’s the inner Darth Vader. It’s the puny-minded thinker who whispers bad news and tallies the grievances. It encourages you to numb out and eat another cookie, have some more wine, stay up late the night before a Big Deal Event and then when you can’t sleep, it begins the little ditty in your head of what a loser you are, churning up the anxieties.
Your ego is the one who assumes it is always under attack. Everyone is out to get you. People do things to you on purpose. Nobody likes you because there’s something wrong with you.
A good rule of thumb: when your thoughts aren’t loving, you’re usually hearing from ego.
It spins nightmare scenarios…
Ever wake up from a wild and bizarre dream and for a moment not realize you were just dreaming? Remember how relieved you felt? The other night I dreamt I was riding a horse while carrying a plate of chicken and there were gigantic ants trying to kill me. I was very glad to wake up from Bizarro Land but it took me a while to shake it.
Ego’s reality is like this for many people. They’re so totally lost in the ego’s deception and cannot wake from its reality. They believe it. And they continue to argue for its crazy-town nightmares because it all just feels so freaking real!
Over the years, I’ve talked with people from such diverse walks of life and situations that I can tell you without a doubt, no one was able to solve their problems from the level of their ego. No one.
Waking up from the ego’s nightmares
Remember your relief when you woke up from the nightmare? This is the only way to handle ego. You’ve got to wake up. You won’t be able to find your way out of your ego nightmares by solving the problems it gives you. Einstein said it best: No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.
True transformation means we get to know our ego self and learn to recognize its calling card. There are a small handful of ways you regularly get triggered. These are good issues to look at. If it’s helpful to you, here are some of mine:
Taking things personally.
Playing the victim of my life.
Identifying with my messier chaotic attributes, believing this is ALL of who I am.
When I’ve become overly self-involved and I think it’s all about me.
Once you start to pay attention to the way you feel when you’re caught in the grip of an ego story, you can train yourself to ditch before the crash. Remember, you’ll never solve the problem inside the consciousness that created it, but you can wake up from it. You can leave that nightmare by training yourself to recognize the feelings and then asking yourself to step out of the vehicle. Yes, it’s scary. Sometimes it’ll feel like you’re going to die if you don’t do something about that problem. But remember: this is only a dream.
You can’t kill off your ego.
Nope, it’s not about killing off your ego – there’s really no way to do that. It’s about loving yourself more fiercely – and that means loving your ego too. The same way you’d love a little child who insists he should eat nothing but Capn’ Crunch and permanently trash the nap schedule.
Gradually, you learn to identify the ego’s skwawking; you get good at letting it do its thing while you tune it out and, what happens over time is that you can’t really hear what the ego is broadcasting since you’re usually tuned to the love channel. Not every time, but most of the time. And that’s okay.
Back to my conversation with my friend this weekend.
She kept defending her position, kept arguing for her upset. It’s pretty obvious you’re talking to an ego at that point, it’s like you’re the priest at the bedside of the little girl in The Exorcist movie, and you’re just trying to keep from getting hit by the pea soup. There was no way I was going to make any sense to her saying silly things like, you’re the creator of your own reality, so I just said, I can’t talk to your ego about this.
And then I asked her if she wanted to invest her energy in this story. This is my one sure fire way of waking myself up when I am lost in my own ego crap. It almost never ever fails. I asked: do you want to invest your energy in this story? She did not. So I asked: then, why argue for a reality when you clearly do not enjoy the way it’s making you feel? And she woke up. Then, we had a pretty cool conversation.
Love and peace to you, sweet friend!