Refection – Being Strong

strong woman

I have become a Strong Independent Person. Its something that others admire. I also admire in others… and in myself.
This knowledge assures me, and it feeds this part of me. We have become quite attached to each other, SIP and I.

As long as I embrace this persona, and default to it in times of difficulty, then I find it hard to be vulnerable and dependent on others.
The dependent part of me I still judge as “weak”. I am also too ready to judge others who appear dependent and “weak”.

We all have a shadow side, which can be masquerading as our “good side”.

The ego is like that. It creates a story about what we want to admire in ourselves, and therefore what we see in others.

Yet, when the ego is in charge, it blocks off the heart and our ability to empathize and be truly compassionate.

My heart tells me to not be so strong. To allow myself to open more to others and trust in them and their goodness. To let go of trying to control with strength and will. To open to the inevitable.

May we all find acceptance of the shadow and the light within us, and find inner harmony.

The Depths of our Relationships

masks in relationships

I read an interesting article some time ago by coach Michael Neill on how there are different levels in our relationships with others. I’m not talking about literal closeness, for example a brother is closer than a colleague at work, but more about our ability to truly connect in an authentic way with an other person.

Have you noticed that you can feel a deep connection almost immediately with a stranger? Or feel like a member of your family is hiding behind a mask and being superficial? … That’s what I am talking about.

“Surface Level – How we pretend to be 

On the surface, people present themselves to the world in whatever ways they would like to be seen. They may be clever or cynical, light and cheerful or intellectual and deep. This is our persona or the “mask” of our personality, often revealing our fears, judgments, and insecurities in the very attempt to hide them.

Whether we enjoy or dislike someone’s personality is fairly arbitrary – an accidental coming together of our own innocently acquired preferences and prejudices from a young age.

But like it or not, at some point the mask slips and we see through to…

One Level Deep – The selfish self

Underneath the masks of personality, we’re continually navigating the world through a swirl of thought. Because we feel that thinking is coming at us from the outside world, we tend to see our actions, as one of my clients once put it, as being ‘the only sane response to an insane world’.
This is how we justify our ambition and ruthlessness; our cruelty to ourselves and others. After all, if it wasn’t a dog eat dog world out there, who would ever want to eat a dog?

When we see through someone’s “nice person” or “tough guy” mask, we often see only as far as this level. And it’s difficult for most of us to feel warmly towards someone who is seemingly only out for their own self-aggrandizement or self-preservation.

Until, that is, we see through to…

Two Levels Deep – Doing the best we can as we’re all in this together

There is a quote often attributed to Philo of Alexandria that we should “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” This is not only true in the physical world, where our bodies begin to decay long before our thoughts are ready to let go, but also in our innate psychology.

Every human being I know wants to love and be loved; to be happy more and suffer less; and to feel like in some way their life had meaning and value. How they go about achieving these aims is a product of their level of understanding and experience of the world.

It’s easy to love people “two levels deep”, because we see ourselves reflected in them. We all have a natural compassion for the suffering of others and an abiding conscience which ensures that while we may at times act in ways that are harmful to ourselves and others, we do it in spite of and not because of who we are at core.

Loving people at this level doesn’t mean we have to live with them or let them get away with murder, literally or figuratively. It just means that we don’t get so upset by their humanness or carried away by our own delusions that we can escape the human condition.

While seeing through to people’s innate humanity makes for richer and more wholesome relationships, there is a level beyond even that which takes us past the illusion of separation which allows us to play judge and jury to our fellow humans…

interconnection

Three Levels Deep – Who we are before the fact of thought

Who are you before thought comes into the equation? Mystics throughout time have described our essential nature as being made of spirit – a name for the invisible life force that makes up the visible world of form.

It’s difficult to even talk about “loving someone” at this level because rather than two or seven or even seven billion separate people, there is simply the presence of Love with a capital “L” – and as we dissolve and surrender into that Love, we fulfill the age-old proverb that “we are that which we seek”.

We are one in shared consciousness and spirit.”

p.s. This makes me think about how that pesky neighbor, or annoying colleague and Donald Trump appear one level deep for many of us.

* Ego 101

People around me are starting to ask questions about ego, what it means and how it has an impact on our spiritual journey. I was inspired to go ahead and publish my own insights , following  Trini’s post this morning asking What is Ego?. Lets get the conversation going on this big and edgy topic.

EGO

Here goes:
The term “ego” can be confusing as it has come to have different meanings. In every day conversations it is often associated with people who have grandiose ideas. When we see someone “getting too big for his boots” we tend to think that this is what ego is about. Our ego is far more than this and is very complex.
Its no wonder it can be hard to “get” it.

First of all, we all have one. The ego is our thinking mind and beliefs, as well as our image of ourselves. Ego can sometimes be referred to as “self hood” or “persona”. If you find you have a negative reaction to the word “ego” itself, then choose an other one.

These musings are from an non expert perspective, and come from my personal experience and readings from psychology, yoga and spirituality.

I call it Ego 101 and not Ego Ph.D so please take in the spirit it is intended – to enlighten and uphold the journey that we are all on to awaken to and connect to something more than our individual self.

newborn baby

When we are born, we don’t have any knowledge or consciousness of our own self as an individual human being.  We are innocent and completely vulnerable in this world.

As babies we become aware of  ourselves as a reflection of our interactions with our mother and then others. Our ego identity is born. But this identity is a reflected one. It is not our real being. We do not yet know who we truly are; we know what others think about us.

baby in mirror

As we interact more in the world, we form our beliefs and thinking about ourselves, others and the world around us. We must have this to survive. At its core is an intelligence that responds to external circumstances. We learn what hurts and what feels good, and we adapt our behavior to fit in to the world around us.

As we grow up, the more interactions and reflections we experience, the more complex our ego becomes…. and the more we believe it to be the truth about who we are.

Our ego is an accumulated phenomenon, a by-product of living with others. As human beings we have to have an ego to survive in the world. Our ego is not our enemy, its keeps us alive.

Awakening

“Awakening” or “self realization” is when we wake up to a  sense that there is something more than our individual self. That we are all somehow connected and that we are part of an expanding consciousness, spirit or universal presence.

This is when many of us find ourselves drawn to spirituality and become seekers of the truth beyond our ego and separate self. We want to connect to the essence of who we are and embrace a new way of being in the world. This way is one of interconnectivity, compassion and loving kindness. 

I believe that we have to have a strong ego in order to get to know  the truth. We cannot know the higher Self without embracing this functional part of our mind or smaller self.

First we have to know that which is not true. We have to see the untrue nature of our ego. Some refer to it as our false self vs. our true self. At this stage we are likely to reject this ego part of ourselves and judge it as “bad”. However, it is our own thinking that is creating judgments. Our ego isn’t good or bad, it just IS.

woman looking sat self

When we are ready we begin to explore this ego part of ourselves. What do I believe is “me”?  What is “mine”? What are my needs? What image of myself do I cling to? What aspects of my self do I reject? “Who am I really”?

We can only grow beyond our ego when we accept it and love it for what it is, rather than reject it and try to overcome it and push it away. As Trini says, imagine your soul is the parent and the ego, its child.

The more we judge our ego and reject it, the more it is threatened … the more we persist in not recognizing it, the more it resists. And we create an inner battle of our own making. When we try to deny it, it will raise itself to be seen in a new way…. And it may take us a while to realize that what we thought was the Truth is actually an other image of ourselves and set of beliefs that our brilliant ego has created for our survival.

The journey is from one of “being separate” to one of “interconnectivity”.

From one of  “me” to one of “we”.

From one of “small self” to one of ” higher Self”.

From one of “judgment” to one of “acceptance”.

From one of “thinking” to one of “knowing”.

From one of “fear” to one of “love”.

I have more to share about ego and its part in our spiritual journey. Looking forward to having conversations here and over the blogosphere. 🙂

Namaste