A friend and I were just discussing who we want to be when we grow up. This is hilarious because I am nearly 50 and in my younger perspective, I would be ancient and already ‘grown’, right? Interestingly, most of the work I do with others and myself is identity work, meaning we work on who we think we are, who we believe we are, who we wish we were, and who we behave like - so it’s a ton of self-awareness and getting up close and personal with ourselves, especially our egos.
However, when my friend said she was discovering and deciding “who I’m going to be for the rest of my life.” alarm bells rang all throughout me.
This was the wrong path. A flaw in perception. An error in identity.
SHE wasn’t wrong. I was. And not wrong as in ‘bad’ or ‘less-than’ but my understanding of identity was too small. It was immature, spiritually.
When I first learned about the Law of Attraction (15+ yrs ago) I began studying it voraciously because there was an ultimate truth in it that I felt in my bones. Unfortunately, it’s one of those incredibly simple concepts that our minds can’t understand and I’ve circled around and around it for years!
This morning, though, I got hit on the head with a whole new understanding of it, along with the concept of identity. Clanging alarm bells, remember?
Turns out, the identity work I’ve done for myself and with my clients is missing the mark.
Not to devalue identity work which consists of understanding your values, confronting your beliefs, and choosing how you want to BE in the world. This is incredibly, incredibly valuable inner work that is essential to maturing our inner world.
AND, it’s only one move on a much longer game.
You’ve been hearing about my relationship with my own ego for days now - I am never without her and her desire to be in charge. There is no life without ego - there is no way to remove it from our being.
Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D., discovered four distinct characters in the brain which she describes in detail in her book, My Stroke of Insight. As she suffered a stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain, she managed to stay aware and lucid as her left brain deteriorated and noted that what we think of as the Ego - our memories, experiences, time, and our identity, even our names and closest relationships, is housed in the left hemisphere of our brain and when it’s gone, we cannot function outside of ourselves.
So, the ego is important.
Even so, most of us live in perpetual battle with our egos. Whether it’s knock-down, drag-out, and bloody, or the slightly more mature bickering and negotiation, it’s war.
As soon as we awaken to the fact that WE are NOT the voice, but the observer of the voice, we live at odds with our ego.
But here is the MOST messed up part of this - the ‘we’ that is at odds with our egos, IS OUR EGO! Sneaky, right?!
The ego is extremely clever and an expert chameleon. It does not care what is TRUE, only that it gets to be be front and center.
I blame Descartes, really. It was he who declared that our THINKING was what validated our existence with his “I think, therefore I am” in 1637. And with that, the EGO (the entire humans’ collective) ascended to the level of God.
The point is, we IDENTIFY with our brains. Whether we have high IQ’s or not does not reduce the identification or the ego’s power here. The ego is just as happy to identify with being unsmart as smart, creative or analytical, male, female, gender fluid, or any race or culture.
The ego rules THINKING.
Now, I tend to stay away from the Macro level of things because I, personally, do not want to address the masses –I’m happy with just the few who are ready to transform themsleves and make meaningful change in their lives. However, at the Macro level, the ego has created massive amounts of disconnection and destruction as society has come to resemble the ego – defensive, overly analytical, afraid, separate from others, constantly threatened, and always seeking ways to protect itself from perceived threats.
All this leads me to where the clanging alarms are still ringing in my ears – my focus on identity work is merely a STEP on the path to ‘enlightenment’ (self-mastery). Where I want to go is embodying, living from my heart and soul, not my mind. So drumming up ideas about who I want to be actually seems a bit counter-productive, doesn’t it?
Were you hoping for a grand answer, here? That I wold reveal some beautiful truth that I have discovered and can impart? Me too. Sorry to disappoint.
What I can say is that I HAVE experienced many moments where I am NOT thinking, I am just being. In my breath, or my feet on the floor. When I look deeply into my loved ones eyes or share breath with a horse. My favorite? When I’m holding space and being fully present for another while they express meaningful things to themselves.
I believe the answer to who do I want to be when I grow up has become ‘Nobody.’ Ram Dass introduced that concept to me in his book Becoming Nobody, and many spiritual teachers point to this same state of being.
Non-attachment, present moment, identifying with nothing… BEING.
I have yet to thread the needle on how to live this way while still within society - but I’m working on it. I have no desire to remove myself or live like a monk, but I definitely desire to live from my soul rather than my ego, so I am relentless in my work - hahahaha!
As this is just the beginning of this adventure in sharing my thoughts, I imagine there will be much more to come – I haven’t had one day without addressing the relationship with Eggo,
My husband often says he thinks it’s exhausting to be me.
I definitely am looking for less ego, less doing, and more being – hopefully that is far less exhausting. If I do come upon anything that feels like the answer, I will absolutely share it.
For now, please forgive the giant gaps in the explanation of the ego. I have told myself that I will not overly edit this work while in the 30-day window and cannot spend the hours it would take to produce something more concise – though it will be addressed daily, so hopefully I’ll piece together a decent narrative, overall?
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