The ego is a monster.
We know this. I know this. So why do I feed it? Why do I still invite it into my intimate space? Why do I sit down to coffee with it and ask it what it thinks about? Why do I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck when it spews its opinions of my outfit, my ex’s new girlfriend, my body, the awkward joke that fell flat to a room full of people weeks ago?
Why does this monster get a seat at the dinner table? Why does it get to ride shotgun? Why do I sometimes give it not only the better seat on the couch, but the best of my energy too?
The ego is a monster. It’s like the shadow that, even when we can’t see it, is there. It’s part of us. We can’t destroy it, but we can fortify it with so much goodness that it becomes a mute, angelic aura, a gauzy memory, floating silently in the background of our consciousness. I don’t know this from experience, but a girl can dream.
It’d be great to pull a Peter Pan on the ego and just bust out Wendy’s sewing kit and unthread the shadow from our heels. Laugh as it flits aimlessly around the room, darting up the walls, with no feet to chase. But we’re sewn onto our egos for a reason, they serve a purpose. My ego is here to teach me a great lesson and broaden my capacity of awareness, if I proceed mindfully.
I believe, with our practice, we can erect a forcefield of love, acceptance and non-attachment that silences the monstrous ego into submission. Love, acceptance and non-attachment so powerful, so all-consuming that the ego’s opinions cease to matter, cease to even be heard, that its seat at the dinner table and shotgun seat are made available for someone better, someone worthy, someone with words worth listening to. I believe this to my very core. I see it. I believe that attaining this is a key pillar of why I practice yoga.
Unguarded negative self-talk, masochistic memory lane, purposefully thinking thoughts and doing things that inevitably make us feel badly about ourselves or the situation’s circumstances…sound familiar? It’s unconscious sometimes. It’s really satisfying in a sick way, as I’ve written about before. It’s so satisfying to play sad songs and get all melancholy when really, in truth, you’ve been over your break-up for over six months. It’s so tempting to look at yourself in the mirror as you’re getting into the shower after eating a big meal and think look at my stomach, I look so fat. It’s alluring to obsess over the person who rejected you, didn’t like you, didn’t think your joke was funny, didn’t invite you, didn’t whatever.
We are hardwired, if you will, to entertain these thoughts. We’re conditioned to feed the ego. It takes practice to undo these behaviors. We must rewire our minds in order to stop feeding the ego! It’s really an honor, if you think about it, to make yourself the only one welcome in your mind’s conversation. Imagine shutting off the sound of the ego, of people who don’t like you, the people who are jealous or hateful or cruel or who just don’t understand you.
It can be beneficial to hear these opinions sometimes, yes, we don’t want to be in denial of the truths about us that we sometimes need to hear from loved ones. But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the opinions and outside influences that are a detriment to our growth and our existence. The stuff that we let into our minds, that we let gunk up our intuitive reactions to live, our feelings about ourselves. The stuff that has no place in our minds, the most intimate and sacred space in which we live our lives!
One never ought to bite the hand that feeds them, but the ego bites us all the time! We let it bite us! So, what to do? The ego won’t stop biting, it’s a monster, biting is its business. The answer, then, must be to stop feeding it.
Stop feeding the ego.
Sounds so simple, right? Well, like any garden that we want to see bloom, it takes tending. So let’s tend, shall we? Let’s practice. Let’s be diligent. Let’s stop feeding our egos and start living a life of mental freedom. Don’t put it off, I know I’m not going to. There’s so much beauty to be mulled over, so many beneficial thoughts to have, so many better people to have riding shotgun and sitting across from us at coffee. There are so many better, beautiful things to feed…
Let’s start today.