When was the last time your ego reared it’s critical head? Last week? Yesterday? A minute ago?
It happened very recently for me. I just joined a gym.
It has been great exercise…especially in ego management.
In my first weight-lifting class, I had to ask the teacher which equipment I needed. As class began, she nodded at me and said to the group, “We have one new person today.”
I felt a flash of embarrassment, followed quickly by an internal soothing, “They don’t know that you’ve lifted plenty of weights.”
It didn’t matter what the teacher had actually said. My ego heard, “You’re not as good as everyone else here.”
In my first yoga class, the teacher asked if anyone was new to yoga.
This time, it was a flash of self-satisfaction, followed by an internal cheering, “Not you! You’ve done lots of yoga.”
My ego’s response was, “You’re as good as anyone else here.”
Isn’t the ego amusing? It is so quick to evaluate situations as threat or affirmation.
We even use affirmations intentionally as a response to threats, as a way to care for our damaged egos. When they’ve been under siege for too long, it is a common healing practice to counter years of self-judgment by creating “affirmations” to replace those old beliefs.
“I’m ugly” with “I’m beautiful”
“I’m mean” with “I’m kind”
“I’m stupid” with “I’m smart”
But in every case, aren’t we just replacing a negative evaluation with a positive evaluation? While that feels SO MUCH better, it still leaves us in the evaluation phase. And as long as we are in the evaluation phase, there will always be good AND BAD to be found.
What if it doesn’t matter if we are ugly OR beautiful, mean OR kind, stupid OR smart?
What if we just ARE?
Even though I was pretty quickly able to see the humor in my ego flexes at the gym, I still wondered if a day would come where my ego wouldn’t even weigh in, where being a beginner or not a beginner wouldn’t be bad OR good. And then, guess what? It did! My ego responded with, “Geez, how long IS it going to take for your ego to quiet down?! You’ve been at this work for a while, Stacy.”
And so, just like exercise, I return to my practice…
Step 1: Recognize when my ego has been triggered. “Well, hello Ego.”
Step 2: Replace the Ego’s message with a judgment-free one.
“It doesn’t matter if it takes a long time. It doesn’t matter if it takes a short time. It will take as long as it takes.”