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Hope Through Authenticity

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The Ego vs The Soul: Only One Can Prevail

What is the Job of the Ego?

The ego has a primary job – to make you feel self-important.  The ego accomplishes this by showing you where you are “better” than others and beating you to death with how you are “less” than others.  Your inner critic is the voice of the ego.  That part of you that thinks “well, at least my kids don’t do that” or “at least I’m not that fat” or “my car/house/clothes are better than hers” is also the ego. 

The ego learns someone is CEO of XYZ and tells you that 1) they are better than you and 2) they know they are better than you.  If the ego spends time judging others, it assumes everyone else’s ego is judging you!  And, guess what, it’s true.  For ten seconds!  I’ll admit I make a judgment about people and then ten seconds later I’m worried about my crap again. 

All these people we are worried are judging us spend ten lousy seconds thinking about you/me.  How much time do you spend worrying about it? 

The Ego is STRONG, LOUD, OBNOXIOUS and WRONG!  The ego goes to great lengths to prove its importance and veracity. 

What is the Job of the Soul?

The soul tells you what matters to you – what really matters!   It does NOT tell you what society thinks is important.  It does NOT tell you to obey the “shoulds” in this life.  Your soul tells you WHO YOU ARE and WHAT YOU ARE MEANT TO BE DOING.  Your soul is the home of your values.  The soul knows your VALUE … a value you have just because you exist.  Your value – according to your soul – is inherent to your beating heart. 

The soul tells you that YOU MATTER – that’s it.  YOU MATTER.

The Ego/Soul Tug-of-War

If you are valuable simply because you exist, then it stands to reason that what you do/own/accomplish is irrelevant.  Do you see the tug-of-war?  Your body/mind/soul are in constant battle.

Sadly, not only is the ego much louder than the soul, the ego gets a lot of support.  Our society values exactly the same things the ego values.  Maybe one day that will change.  In the meantime, we have to learn to lower the ego’s volume and increase the soul’s. 

In tug-of-war there is an anchor.  Remember playing that – the anchor was always the big kid, the strong guy.   The ego is strong – it’s the 200-pound gorilla.  If we aren’t intentional in creating an equally strong anchor for our soul, we will end up in the mud time and time again. 

What is the Mud?

What is the mud I mention above?  Debt is one.  Unhealthy relationship is another.  Addictions (food, spending, exercise, alcohol, drugs, etc.)  The constant obsession about what other’s think.  Paralyzing fear.  Analysis paralysis.  That job you hate but gives you a decent paycheck.  The kids being so busy they can’t breathe much less bond.  Reading other people’s minds.  Arguments over stupid stuff.  That car you just can’t afford.  Saying you are ‘fine’ when your world is going to shit!  Disassociation.  Living with hate.

Giving the Soul an Anchor

I could spend a few minutes justifying why we should listen to the soul more than the ego.  But, seriously, don’t we all understand that?  The mud is a hard place to live.  We all recognize that society’s values and the ego’s messages are not as important as honoring who we are at our core.  Instead, let’s discuss how to hear the soul and follow her guidance.

What we need to do is find a strong anchor for the soul.  What could that be?  I think the choice of anchor is individual.  But I do KNOW we must be INTENTIONAL in choosing and using an anchor(s).

Maybe it’s your faith.  Maybe it’s a dedicated time to listen to yourself (through journaling, yoga, meditation).  Maybe it’s taking care of your body through healthy eating and exercise.  Maybe it’s a good therapist or a true friend.  Maybe it’s art or nature or music.  Maybe it’s being alone.  Maybe it’s classes or books that make you think more deeply.  All of these are great IF IF IF you are committed to using them and using them intentionally to LISTEN TO YOUR SOUL. 

I’m an avid exerciser.  It is NOT an anchor for my soul.  That’s because when I exercise I’m actually feeding my ego – telling myself how good I am to exercise, how much better I look, how much better I am than the heavy-breathing guy next to me. 

One of my anchors is this blog.  This blog is forcing my soul to the forefront.  In order to create this post, I have to listen to what my soul is thinking.  Another anchor is my therapist and a passion/purpose group.  When I write this blog, go to my therapist or participate in my group, I INTENTIONALLY open myself up and listen deeper.  I allow people to tell me what my ego is speaking.  I give advice that reminds me to make changes too. 

How do you anchor your soul?  Do you lean on this anchor enough?  Do you need to develop new anchors? 

If you want to live an authentic, passionate, satisfying life then you must shove the ego aside and let the soul dominate.  This will only happen with honesty (that deep, dark, hard honesty), intentional time with self, boundaries, and continuous diligence to guard against that sneaky ego. 

What Now?

Recently, I was tasked with creating a pie chart of how I spend my day, my week, my month.  This activity forced me to see that I do not build in enough time to feed my soul.  It showed me that I let “society rules” guide how I spend my time, my money, my energy.  There was not enough balance.  The ego still had the 200-pound gorilla and my soul’s anchor was a skinny little wimp. 

Now, I build in a way to anchor my soul every day!  I don’t have hours upon hours to spend loving myself but here are some of the ways I’m being more intentional:

  • I like to listen to books when I’m driving – I’ve been intentional in choosing books that make me think more about how I live my life (example:  anything by Brene Brown).
  • I have turned down lunch with people who cause my ego’s volume to rise.  Or, if I must be with those people, I enter that time with intention to honor myself.
  • I have signs/notes all over the place to remind me of my values.
  • I stay away from things that make my ego rattle (i.e., Facebook).
  • I write this blog and do the activities I recommend to you.
  • I stay in therapy and involved in groups that support my self-honoring goals.
  • I am honest with myself about how I feel and I refuse to feel guilty for any feelings I have – this requires focused effort!

Go build a set of anchors – put them in place – find the life that VALUES you for being YOU.

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    In April 2012 I had a mental breakdown. The real thing. I have about 36 hours that I don’t remember....

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