Look, It’s ego.

“If you think you’re evolved, go spend a week with your family.” -ram dass

I’d like to expand this idea to say, “If you think you’re evolved, go interact with your family via facebook.’

I believe that I have grown in significant ways over the past 10+ years.  I’ve gone to therapy, read self-help books, learned to meditate, and I surround myself with positive energy on a daily basis.  I’ve become increasingly aware and make it a practice to be present in the moment.  I often counsel my children to observe their breath and be aware of how situations affect them.  “Let it go,” I say.  “Just breathe.  You are okay.”

And yet, this past week has been a huge screaming reminder to me that I am only one controversial issue away from losing my cool and getting sucked up into an email argument with a sibling.  After two days of back and forth correspondence, last night I found myself frantically typing away another letter in an attempt to be heard.  My heart rate was off the chart and my stomach hurt.  The keys were a blur as tears flowed.  My feelings were hurt.  I felt misunderstood and attacked.  When I could no longer see what I was writing, I stopped.  In a moment of clarity, I heard, “What are you doing?  Just breathe.  You are okay.”

I took a deep breath, wiped my eyes, and put my finger on the delete key.  I held it down until all of the desperation was erased from my computer screen.  I laid the computer on the floor, closed my eyes, and cleared my mind.  For the first time in days, I felt a little sliver of peace begin to work its way into my soul.  I sat with that feeling for a while and then went to bed.

Today I feel a bit silly.  Silly for spending so much of my week upset over someone else’s opinion of me.  Silly for letting my guard down so that my ego could wiggle its way out and take a front position in my life.  Silly for thinking that I had evolved to a point that this would never happen to me again.  But the reality is that ego is a part of us and for the majority, it never goes away completely.  Being aware of ego and how it feels when ego is in control is a huge step.  I recognize ego when I begin to feel the need to be “right”, that feeling that if I just keep expressing my view, the other person will hear me and will be convinced to agree, that feeling of not being able to just  let it go but having to argue a point over and over.

Ego sits waiting for a moment of weakness, for someone to ‘push our buttons’ or ‘trigger’ an emotion from our past.  Members of our family are often the most likely people in our lives to do this.  They know our triggers better than anyone.  Our history is entwined and their ego uses our ego to gain strength.  It is when both egos are in charge that things get out of hand, relationships are damaged, and everyone gets hurt.

The lesson is to recognize the feeling that ego causes and to move through it.  By bringing awareness to the ego, it begins to shrink back into the shadow.  Ego can’t function in the light of awareness.  The second our Self recognizes ego, it loses all power.  The practice is then to recognize ego faster and faster each time it tries to take center stage in our lives.  Last night, in a moment of exhaustion my Self was able to whisper to me, “Look, it’s ego.  He got you again.”

My first thought this morning was that I had wasted three days of my life engaged in negative dialogue, three days I won’t get back that I could have been focused on creating the life I deserve.  I realize in this moment that no time was wasted.  I was having exactly the experience that my Self needed in order to grow again.  I had reached one level of enlightenment and had grown comfortable but there is a higher level yet to be obtained.

The Universe places before us exactly what we need in every moment.  The past few days were a reminder and a lesson.  For that, I am grateful.