Shedding of the Ego
Updated: Feb 3, 2019
Have you ever wondered where inner conflict comes from?
This is my recurring story of inner conflict. I believe our Ego is a key element to discovering and healing inner conflict.
The Ego represents the part of our minds that is unconscious and often a result of conditioning we have received growing up. It represents our feelings of identity, memories and thIngs we have been taught growing up.
I'll give you an example of my Ego coming out.
I used to love being the centre of attention. Loved to be seen, for my charisma and for the way I showed up as the life of the party. Making people happy, laughing, connecting and having fun was always a big stroke for my Ego.
And I’ve always loved connecting with people individually, learning about their struggles and challenges and helping them see a new respective. Helping them see a new way through.
Making other people happy and serving them has been my life-long mission.
This is in part why I chose to be a life coach. Or as I now like to say, why life coaching chose me.
If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t see anything wrong in that picture. And, for the most part, there isn’t anything wrong.
However, what I have sometimes experienced is the other side of the coin. What happened when I wasn't seen as the life of the party? When people didn't connect with my charisma or someone else stole the spotlight? When I clearly saw someone struggling, but when I tried to help I got shut down? When I was told “I don’t need help” or when my advice didn't land in the right way?
I ended up feeling depleted. Like I have offered my soul and energy, and I got no appreciation or gratitude for my effort.
This used to create a lot of conflict within myself, and I would often feel unappreciated. This made me crave appreciation and validation even more, so I would often go out of my way to help others or overextend myself in the hope that people will see and value me.
What I’ve discovered along the way is that people are often too busy looking after themselves, what they need and what’s right in front of them, that they don’t have the time or the availability to look after your needs.
I really like that the word "needs" has come up in my thoughts. Our needs are key to understanding inner conflict. If you have a need, you will seek to fulfil it.
Sometimes you might go about it in a subtle way, like offering something without actively *expecting* that you'll get anything in return, but then secretly *hoping* you will be appreciated and validated.
Have you ever heard yourself or others say “after all I’ve done for this person, this is how they treat me”? That's what happens when we offer something apparently without expectation, when in fact the expectation is there, just hidden under an apparent act of selflessness. If we're honest with ourselves, we recognise that the expectation was there.
This creates an imbalance within yourself, because the more you try to get external validation, the more “off” you will appear to those around you - you might end up being too "in-your-face" with your offers to help and might appear as overbearing.
This scenario creates the perfect environment for us to enter the “Victim Loop” where we might feel under appreciated, undervalued or even worthless.
And as you enter the victim loop, you shift your energy towards those negative feelings, becoming more receptive to situations that confirm your negative thoughts towards yourself or others. By this point, it doesn’t even matter how many positive things happen, because you will only remember the negative ones.
This is how our Ego contributes to our own self sabotage.
Sometimes, in subtle and insidious ways.
Don’t get me wrong, the Ego is very valuable in our lives, and just for the purpose of this article I will only refer to one of its key purposes: to make us aware of our needs.
Having needs is not a bad thing. On the contrary. We should be aware of, and look after our needs.
But our instinct is to seek to fulfil them externally. And when you make your own needs dependent on other people or external factors that we can’t control, we can't know what the outcome will be, and the likelihood of disappointment increases.
How often have you felt disappointed in your life?
Disappointment would not exist without expectations.
When you don’t expect anything, then everything that happens in your life is neither good nor bad. It just is.
What would it look like, if we let go of the desire to control what we can’t, and instead we were observers and receivers of what is?
In the same way we can’t force a tree to blossom when it’s not its time, we can’t force people to do what we want them to do.
What we can do, is create the right environment for our relationships to blossom - just like a tree - by nurturing relationships and offering care and warm light, thus creating the opportunity for them to blossom. That's all you can do: offer an invitation.
How people react to your invitation is something you can’t control, but only observe. When you open your eyes to observe, instead of trying to influence, that is when you will be able to see the truth.
Seeing the truth without trying to control it will allow you to make decisions in your life about those relationships that support yourself growth, and those that no longer serve you.
By letting go of expectations and shedding this layer of your Ego, you will not just reduce the risk of disappointment, but this shift will also open you to receive the abundance of your relationships, your work and the universe as a whole.
Allow yourself to receive everything that comes your way with gratitude, and let go of the conditioning you were taught as a child. Let go of assigning a meaning of good or bad to the things that happen in your life.
Everything that comes our way is exactly what we need at that time, to help us move forward with our lives. Accepted with gratitude, and even if you don’t understand why it’s happening, have faith that is there to help you, protect you and guide you forward.
A dear friend recently said something that profoundly resonated for me:
Know that whatever happens in your life, happens for you, and not to you.
And when you feel stress, anxiety, fear, let go of the instinctual desire to push it down and force it out, because it will find a way back to the surface anyway. Resistance is futile.
All that emotions are trying to do, is to protect and help us. Even if you don’t understand how right now. So instead of pushing them away, accept them. Acknowledge them. See them.
Tell your emotions and thoughts: “Thank you for showing up, I understand and accept you are here to protect me, even if I don’t understand how right now, I know you are here to help lead me forward. I accept you with compassion and I love you. I am whole and I am love. Thank you. Thank you.
Be aware of the shift within you as you acknowledge these thoughts and feelings and let them be.
As soon as you allow yourself to be with a negative emotion, the emotion has done its job, and we can allow it to be free, and let it go. It's so much easier to let go of emotions when we work with them, rather than against them.
How can you switch your mind from looking on the outside to fulfil needs of love, care and validation, and instead, turning it within yourself?
How can we invite others to appreciate and love us, if we don't love ourselves? It's like telling ourselves we are not worthy, but expecting the exact opposite externally. As if people can't feel our inner vibration and can't notice in our behaviour that something is off.
Self love doesn't start with you hating yourself and expecting the world to convince you otherwise.
It doesn't even matter how much love and validation you get from people, it will never be enough to change your opinion of yourself.
Self love starts within you. Once you are able to accept and love yourself, you will truly open yourself to the love that the whole universe has to offer.
And how do you create self love? How do you start this shift within you?
By accepting everything we feel. As an observer of our own feelings, rather than a controller. Self love starts with self awareness, and just letting everything exist within you as it is, not as you think it "should be". Because the key in self love and self acceptance is letting go of things you were taught - those things that don't serve you but you never stopped to question.
Feel your emotions and thoughts as they are, without assigning a story to them. Don't tell yourself "I am angry because X and Y", tell yourself "I am angry". Honour the feeling, not the story.
Let go of stories. Let go of "should", "musts, "can't" and replace them with "could". With possibility and potential.
"I can't" is a self limiting belief that says "Don't even bother trying". What if instead of "I can't" we say to ourself something more grounded in reality, such as "I haven't yet"?
I hope that by using this insight, you will be able to start recognising within yourself those insidious "I'm not expecting anything in return for my help". Of those "shoulds" and "can'ts" because our mind may be conditioned to function in a certain way, but that doesn't mean we can't change it.
Our minds react almost automatically because this helps save us a lot of time. Imagine if every day when you woke up, you had to learn how to walk all over again. How much of your energy would be used towards that?
But when a conditioned thought or emotion doesn't serve us anymore, the inner conflict in itself can deplete us of energy faster than learning to walk. By spending a bit of that energy to just be aware of the words we use or the things we tell ourselves, we can enable ourselves to ask "is this thought or belief helping me"? If yes, leave it there. If not, what is a healthier and better thought you can replace it with?
A lot of the things we learn as children are very useful means of coping with the world and its rules. Imagine if you didn't have anyone in your life telling you the difference between good and bad? We would spend a lot of energy discovering the consequences of our actions.
But just because something served us when we were 5, it doesn't mean they have to always be that way. You're not 5 anymore. You might be 25, or 35, or 65, and what you have is a wealth of wisdom and life experience that can help you change those patterns for new ones that are more closely aligned with who you are, your values, and your authentic self.
If you're experiencing inner conflict and would like to work together on letting go of the old patterns, shedding your own Ego and learning a new, authentic way of living, get in touch for a free consultation.