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Entries in ego (4)


The Best Thing in Life is Not Free

Whoever said, “the best things in life are free” was dead wrong. One of those best things, LOVE, actually comes at an enormous price. No, we are not talking about diamonds and pearls, but something even more precious to us--our ego. The ego is in the business of keeping us separate from others rather than feeling connected, and it won’t allow us to have true empathy for another. It is concerned with reward (what’s in it for me?) and image (how will that look to others?) and protection (don’t be open or vulnerable) and will do everything it can to keep us from seeing the connection we share. The more the ego is running the show, the less capacity we have to genuinely love. But to tame that ego is one of the greatest challenges we face as human beings.

I was reminded of this recently when I felt hurt in my relationship by something relatively minor, but my ego wanted to make it a big deal. It kicked and screamed loudly, throwing a tantrum in my mind like a 3 year old. That is one of the ego’s specialties you know, making something very important/dramatic out of something so small. I allowed it to take me down a path of negativity, judgment, and projection for quite a while before turning it around. Ironically, I coach couples every day on the importance of repairing hurt as quickly as possible, and in this instance I failed to follow one of my own principles. To my ego I say, "You may have won that battle but you will definitely not win the war!"

I know LOVE will be victorious as long as I am willing to pay the price of that oh so precious ego.



Practicing the Fundamentals

In many endeavors, there are fundamentals skills that must be learned if we want to be successful. To be a point guard in basketball, we must learn the skill of dribbling. In martial arts, there are fundamental elements to kicking or striking that must be learned and practiced. To play the piano, certain hand motions and keystrokes must be perfected. Any coach or teacher will tell us that we won’t get very far in our pursuit if we have not learned the fundamentals. The same is true if we want to be a great partner. We must practice the skill of feeling and expressing APPRECIATION in our relationships if we truly want to be extraordinary partners!

When an investment appreciates, its value grows. In the same way, appreciation of our partner means that we perceive them in such a way that their value increases to us. The truth is that they are already infinitely valuable in the eyes of Creation, but when we appreciate them their value increases from our perspective. We notice an aspect of them that we see as valuable, feel it, and then express it to them. Paradoxically, this is a very self-serving act because we are the ones who directly benefit from feeling the appreciation. We are uplifted to a higher state of being.

Many of us are not very skilled at this fundamental ability, particularly if we did not grow up in a household where it was practiced regularly. This means that we must retrain ourselves to make it a habit, and the only way to do this is practice, practice, practice. The ego will try its best to get us to focus on our partner’s faults and limitations, because it mistakenly believes this is the way to fulfillment. I have had to put a great deal of energy into becoming more proficient at appreciation and I still have a long way to go, but I have noticed remarkable results when I practice it-—and so will you!  



Only 50 Million Steps to Enlightenment

Our minds tend to want linear steps that direct us how to achieve something. Many articles and books written today have a title such as “The 5 Steps to This” or “7 Keys to Achieving That.” We want the logical, linear steps that will help us get to our destination. Not long ago I went to a book-writing seminar and was told that the title must be something along the lines of “6 Steps to a Healthy Relationship” or no one would even pick it up. So I am now following their advice and thought I would share with you the steps required to attain Enlightenment.

The title is a bit misleading because there is actually only one step, but you must do it 50 million times. And what is that one step? Surrender. Then surrender. Then surrender again, and over and over and over again. In every moment we are either allowing or resisting our true selves and the natural flow of life. When you notice you are resisting, and you will know because it won’t feel very good, just surrender. I estimate we have about 2000 opportunities each day to surrender, so in about 70 years you will be Enlightened. And you thought Enlightenment was out of your reach! 



Listen to the Call of the Heart

In January of 1982, a plane carrying 74 passengers crashed into the icy waters of the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. Several of the passengers survived the crash but were stranded on wreckage and blocks of ice floating in the middle of the river. After nearly 20 minutes rescue workers finally arrived by helicopter and began to airlift the survivors out. A lifeline was lowered to one of the survivors, Arland Williams, Jr., but instead of holding on and saving himself he passed the rope to one of his fellow passengers. He did this several times, allowing for the others to be pulled to safety while he clung to the ice in freezing waters. By the time the helicopter returned for the final rescue, Arland was gone. He couldn’t hold on any longer and slipped away into the frigid water. I will never forget the profound impact this event had on my twelve-year-old mind. The idea that a man (or woman) could give up their life for the sake of another filled me with awe. For most people, this was a demonstration of courage and bravery to the highest degree. And it certainly was that, but it was also an act of pure love that touched something deep within my heart. It was the same way I felt when I thought about other heroic figures who personified love, such as Jesus or Mother Theresa. What could possess someone to make a decision to do such a thing?

I understand now that Arland was able to transcend the grip of his ego, which is based on fear and survival, and listen to the call of the heart. I don’t know exactly what transpired in his mind but my guess is that he surrendered to his Spirit, and let love lead the way. He was likely “possessed” by the Spirit of Love, which is indestructible, limitless, fearless, and knows we are all connected. And today, while his body may no longer contain life, that Spirit lives on and continues to inspire others, including me.

Most of us are not called to give up our life for the sake of another, but if we listen carefully we are called to set aside our ego for the sake of love every single day. The ego, in the way I am defining it, is designed to keep us separate and ward off any threats to the individual personality. The idea of genuine love threatens the ego because love recognizes oneness, togetherness, connectedness, openness, etc. Individuality can still exist in love but the ego doesn’t understand that. It tries to protect and defend itself, neither of which are characteristics of love. The heroes who can listen to the call of the heart, such as Arland, Jesus, and others like them, symbolize the willingness to transcend the ego for love of another. And it is in answering this call where we can all truly find our Selves.

This does not require some fantastic or life-threatening event, and we don’t have to go very far to search it out. We can do this every day and with the people that are right next to us. Our partners or spouses offer wonderful opportunities that challenge our ego’s stronghold on a daily basis. We tend to complain about these challenges, not realizing these are the very gifts that can lead us to our freedom. So listen carefully today, because your heart is calling.