The Ego Monster
We cannot really make a definition for what the ego is, but we can say what it is not. […] The ego’s opposite in every way,–in origin, effect and consequence–we call a miracle.
Ego is often on my mind. I think that as a society, we’re kind of addicted to our egos and our tension. I wanted to distill it down for myself and for you into a more manageable, bite-sized chunk – a confusing ego definition is just a product of more ego. And around and around we go on the crazy merry-go-round…
A Course in Miracles discusses the ego in terms of everything that is not love. This definition resonates with me because I find it helpful to compartmentalize.
The ego comes at us in a couple of different ways. The first is perhaps the most obvious but the manifestations really do relate to one another in a beautiful, hideous dance.
The ego is always so pleased to join with us and obsess, blame/victimize, pout, envy, etc.
The obvious places I’ve given to my ego at various points in my life
-My relationship with food
-My relationship with my body
-My relationships with men
-My unending quest for perfection
Essentially, any time you find yourself waiting for the phone call of a guy who won’t be seen with you in public, crying in the bathroom of a nightclub, bingeing on cookie dough and then hating yourself for it, working out twice a day while on the Special K diet and consuming less than 1000 calories per day – that’s your ego. (ahem…mine).
But the ego is a really sneaky little bugga. Clever too. It’s completely happy to take over any areas of your life that you’re neglecting. Bonus ego points if you’re neglecting one area of your life in favour of obsessing over another.
Sneaky ways my ego has donkey-kicked me
– my physical health
-my emotional health
-my creative side
Here’s how this one looks – you’re up all night fighting with your boyfriend over his porn addiction (or his obsession with his ex-wife or his unwillingness to have dinner with your parents). You’re too stressed out to eat breakfast or lunch. You drink eight cups of coffee to compensate for your lack of sleep and then eat a pound of jalapeno popper dip at nine o’clock that night while obsessing with your best friend about what an asshole your boyfriend is. Before you know it, you have mono. Or pneumonia. Or you’re in the throes of a nervous breakdown. (ahem…me again).
Tricky bugga, that ego.
Even when you think you’ve got your sh*t together, that ego will still creep up on you if you’re not super careful.
Times my ego sneaks up on me if I’m not careful
– When I’m tired
-When I’m hungry
-When I’m too busy/overextended/saying yes to too many things at once
All the yoga in the world is perfectly great, but if I’m not eating well or listening to my intuition, my ego loves to poke at me to me react in my old ways to the same old triggers.
This is bleak.
It’s a never-ending battle.
Constant vigilance is the only to keep that b*tch at bay. The chances of ever being completely free of ego are very, very slim. Unless you are the Dalai Lama, in which case…hey, Dalai Lama…thanks for reading my blog…
How I keep the b*tch at bay
-Don’t get too tired or too hungry
-Don’t say yes when I actually mean no.
-Eat nice. This means neither bingeing on cheesy garlic toast and Twizzlers, nor restricting myself to Special K and Skim milk. Balance.
***This next one is key. If you’re not really paying attention to anything else, this would be a good one to pay attention to***
-Introduce your ego to someone
This was so key for me.
Start by introducing yourself to your ego in a really frank (but kind) way. Get to know your flaws and your triggers. Don’t wallow. Just become acquainted. Egos love to hide, love to make you their co-conspirator. Shine a little light. Be careful you don’t let this introduction of your flaws become a really good excuse for your ego to flog you. That doesn’t help anything. That’s another ego move. (What do you mean I overreact to the things my significant other says to me when I’m tired?? I’m such a failure/loser/waste of life.).
Then, find someone kind that you can trust. A therapist or a friend or a patient barista. Tell him or her your story, your issues. Bonus points if you can do this with the people you live with – that’s some advanced sh*t. It will be vulnerable and you will be really scared, but this is crucial.
Why is this crucial?
Because then, when you start obsessing or criticizing or otherwise making life more difficult for yourself than it needs to be, you have someone who can point it out to you. Even better, it means that when you’re tired or hungry, there’s someone to say, “Have a glass of juice and go to bed, Erin”…or whatever your thing is. It’s so important in preventing sneak attacks.
When your anam cara (soul friend) or the person you’re paying $120/hour to chat with you (or a $5 coffee, depending) calls you on your sh*t, you’ll probably be a little pissed at them at first. It takes a lot of suck-it-up to hear someone when they’re speaking to you on this level. If you’ve chosen well, the voice will speak with love and concern and not judgement (if you’ve chosen a judger – choose again – your ego was in charge of the choosing).
My ego and I still tussle. I don’t foresee a time when that won’t happen. It’s part of the human experience, after all. It’s how we learn our most valuable lessons. I do feel myself gradually building an arsenal of love and insight to use when I tumble ass-over-teakettle from this path I’m on.
Which is kinda worth the price of admission, non?