Yesterday I told myself I was nothing. A loser. Worthless. Doing nothing good in the world, or with my life. Doing nothing worthwhile. I’ve spent years being results oriented, and deriving identity from winning and achieving. So yesterday I asked myself, hatefully, what did I have to show for my efforts. WHAT efforts, worse yet!? My openhearted goodness shrunk and withered away. I felt disconnected from others and actively withdrew even further into myself.
Ego is a hell of a thing. Most people assume it tells you a good story. It pumps you up, right? It puffs you up, like a peacock. Usually people say, “that guy has a HUGE ego” and mean, he’s so full of himself. And if you google the word “ego”, there are a bunch of definitions. For instance, vocabulary.com defines ego as such: ‘Your ego is your conscious mind, the part of your identity that you consider your “self.”‘ Is this true? And if it is true, then why are we always getting in our own way? My ego takes on many forms. But perhaps the most devious and the cruelest is the one who showed up yesterday. I take full responsibility that it was my mind talking. But my heart was no where in sight. That should have been the first red flag. Was it really me, if the best part of me was hidden away? And boy, could I have used that heart yesterday. I desperately needed a little love and compassion. Instead I got this old voice, which plays like it’s looking after me, protecting me. That it’s for my own good. An academy award winning acting job. Like I said, ego is devious. And tricky. And it knows just which buttons to push to (WOOSH!) trapdoor drop you into a pit of deep, dark, lonely despair. My ego says things like “don’t try that. it will be too hard. you will fail. you will look stupid.” or “who do you think you are to live like this? What are you doing with your life? What are you doing of worth? You’re lazy. You’re selfish. Go get a ‘real’ job like the rest of the world. You’re being irresponsible. Grow up. You aren’t doing enough. People are judging you for your choices.” I call this my “not enough” story. (not fast enough, smart enough, nice enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, strong enough, popular enough…)
Because, at some point, I finally realize my mind is telling me a big giant story. And it now has a name, b/c I’ve told it so many goddamn time. But not before I’ve sliced myself to ribbons. That’s the nutty thing. Those thoughts aren’t serving me, but my ego cajoles and coaxes and massages and makes me feel as if it (I) is looking out for me. So I listen. And for several hours I believe these ugly words are true. And I feel shame. And I feel alone in that deep pit of dispair. All the while, the world above hasn’t changed a bit. The sky is still blue, I have family and friends who love and support me, and I’m still little old me. Kind hearted, smart, warm, joyful, silly me. And I ask myself if these hurtful things are true. Or just stories. And I think… Jesus, if we’re gonna tell ourselves a story, why not make it a good one?
But better yet, how about we just be. That’s all we have to do. That’s enough. So I give myself a hug, I meditate, and I get some awareness of what’s going on for me. And suddenly, it feels like a choice. Like it’s up to me to believe those painful thoughts. And I look at them again. The devious whispering in my ear takes on life. I see a 2-D black silouette of a trickster. Not all the way human, almost ghoulish and cartoonish in nature. That shadow. That darkness. It’s vile, and it’s in me. But it isn’t ME. I decide I’ve heard enough. The poisonous voice recedes, and all I hear are birds chirping, and church bells ringing, and some intermittent fireworks in the distance. I’m back home, in my heart.