Buddha said, “Your worst enemy cannot harm you, as much as your own thought…unguarded.”
Given my current understanding of the power of the mind, I could not agree more with this phrase. What I am going to do is to expand upon this concept and relate it to an “ego attack.” The “infamous ego” that we speak of today does not refer solely to pride or conceit. Nor is it used in the Freudian sense, as the “psychological mechanism that mediates between our id and our superego.”
The ego is the voice of your inner critic—it is the inner narrator whose primary goal is self-sabotage. I, too, consider it to be your worst enemy.
Your ego has the ability to hijack your mind and brain on a daily basis. It controls and manipulates, judges and labels, criticizes and belittles—playing with your emotions and belief systems—yanking you around like a cruel puppeteer.
It shoves negative scripts down your throat like “I’m not smart/good enough,” and plays horrible movies in your mind, like the unfolding of a tragic accident scene when your child is just a half an hour late. It increases your life drama by feeding into your “thinking traps” and creating endless negative mind loops.
We all know our triggers, and we certainly all know how easily they can get triggered. We all know our “thinking traps” as well, and they do vary. Some fall into worst-case-scenario thinking and fearful forecasting, while others fall into should thinking and perfectionistic thinking—never feeling good enough.
Your ego recognizes your own personal weaknesses and vulnerabilities and feeds into them—pushing your customized buttons to trigger your reactivity.
The ever-annoying voice of your ego attempts to govern and dictate your world in such a way that will keep you small and limited—living within the confines of your “comfort zone,” feeling forever imprisoned and trapped.
The worst feature by far, is that your ego attacks you the hardest when you are feeling most vulnerable. At that time, when you are most in need of self-compassion, your ego attacks you with the biggest dose of the last thing you need: self-sabotage. What a pill!
But here’s the biggest problem: The ego is never satisfied—it never feels complete and therefore continues to hijack your mind. It’s constantly comparing itself to others. It has us measuring ourselves against the looks, wealth, and social status of everyone else.
And being that it is obsessed with the past and the future, it pulls you out of the present moment—preventing you from being mindful of the “Now.”
Although most of the ego chatter is false, what is most heartbreaking is that we believe it to be true. I’m currently questioning this fine line between truth and untruth.
This past year, and especially these past few months, the physical pains throughout my body have amplified. My chronic pain has intensified, as have my irritable bowel and restless leg syndromes. I don’t sleep restfully at night. My senses are also on high alert. My body is always cold and my hearing is very sensitive. My bladder doesn’t rest much either. Independently, these come across as minor inconveniences. Put together, however, my lifestyle is greatly affected. Although I never stop feeling grateful, I have had some other rather negative feelings creep up as well. Here’s when ego thrives and ups the ante.
What I sometimes wonder is, “How much of the pain is real, meaning what is my baseline, and how much does my ego dial it up upon attack?” I’m certainly not questioning whether my pain is real—doctors, unfortunately, have already done this for me during my adolescent years. My physical ailments are true enough, but my negative thoughts about them—my worries and fears regarding my future are definitely leaving me vulnerable to more frequent and more intense ego attacks.
Similarly, I wonder, “Given that the mind and the body are inseparable, when is body leading and mind following, and when is mind leading and body following?”
I know I have a future as an author, speaker, and coach—a bigger life that I am currently pursuing. After much careful consideration I have come to the conclusion that as much as my physical limitations are holding me back, it is my ego that needs to be seriously tamed and disarmed.
Taming the ego is an art. You have to practice mindfulness and meditation. You have to find and listen to that other voice inside your head, the voice of your true or higher self, also known as the voice of your soul or the voice of courage. That’s the voice you need to amplify in order to kill the negative ego chatter and disarm it.
Mindfulness is the ability to recognize what is happening in your mind right now—anger, jealousy, and sadness, or whatever it is, without getting carried away by it.
According to the Buddha, we have three habitual responses to everything we experience. We want it, reject it, or we zone out.
Mindfulness, he says, is a fourth option, a way to view the contents of your mind with non-judgment. What is most important is being able to note what you’re thinking and feeling and investigate where it affects you in your body. The key for you is not to inhabit the thought—so it does not own or define you.
As far as my body is concerned, I’m currently creating the best possible support system and team for myself. I am working within medicine and alternative medicine, and am grateful for both.
As far as my mind is concerned, I am proud to say that I’m doing the daily work of taming this ugly beast called ego. I accept its presence and understand its devious behavior. With awareness and acceptance I am better able to do the daily work, and make no mistake, it is daily.
It’s the only road to real change and happiness.
PS- To go into more depth and achieve a greater understanding of these concepts and many others, I invite you to sign up for my upcoming six-week interactive workshop entitled: The New Science of Happiness. Each week we will help to bring many of these concepts to life using personal examples and real life experiences.
To get more information and to register call Louise at 416-635-5340. Space is limited to 15 participants.