Awareness of Self: The Death of My Ego

mind-sticky-notesMost of the time my brain feels like it’s a room covered in thousands of post-it notes filled with my thoughts. I’ve started to increase my awareness of the words written on those sticky notes and how they negatively impact my daily thoughts.

Okay, that sounded very philosophical. Let me break it down for you….

How It Started:

So there was this guy (yeah matters of the heart can always enlighten you) who I dated briefly. Having a keen sense of the type of guy that fits my personality and vision of life, I realized fairly quickly that he wasn’t my type. Nevertheless, I carried on ignoring the voice in my head that told me he wasn’t the one. The voice in my head told me that he checked all of my boxes and I was simply being my typical selective self. Despite the rational side of me trying to convince myself that he was a perfectly suitable guy, I just couldn’t feel the chemistry. Needless to say, my interactions with said guy unraveled and I was left feeling somewhat saddened, while my friends looked at me in complete confusion knowing what I failed to acknowledge until that point—I never liked the guy in the first place. but, how was I unable to see in myself what my friends were easily able to recognize? If you ask some of my friends, I just need to start smoking weed and be more chill.  Since that isn’t happening I searched for a more lasting solution, which I’ll expound on in a second. But first, let me explain further how my mind works.

The rational and academic side of my brain recognizes how blessed I am and how “accomplished” I appear to be by most standards. Yet, oftentimes I silently struggle with knowing what I think I need to feel happy, worthwhile and fulfilled. Sometimes, I think it’s having a successful career that feeds my passion, and other times I think it’s acquiring more wealth. Then there are moments when the need manifests itself in believing that my happiness and fulfillment will be achieved once I am married with children—until I speak to my friends who are married with kids. Although logically, I know that these desires will likely not cause me to reach the apex of happiness, it doesn’t stop the needs from creeping into my mind and lodging itself onto a permanent sticky note. This misperception was what precluded me from accepting that this guy was simply neither what I needed nor wanted.

So I decided to dig a little deeper. What was causing my unsettling feelings of dissatisfaction and uncertainty? I took the time to go into my head and consciously observe my daily thoughts. I focused on the sentences that replay in my mind while feeding my consciousness about who I am, what I want and how I approach the world. These were the subliminal reflections that penetrated my mind but were oftentimes not verbalized. I quickly realized that these thoughts were distinct from who I outwardly believed myself to be.

I perceive myself as a confident, self-assured woman; a person who not only knows what she wants out of life, but is well on her way to accomplishing it. I am smart, talented and sociable…I am blessed. So what is the problem? Why were my subconscious thoughts not always reflecting the Superwoman I felt I projected to the world? How could I rewire my mind to align itself with my outward beliefs?

The Realization:

I was determined to find the root of the problem. And after some reflection, I landed on three distinct letters that summed it up: E-G-O.

Our ego doesn’t only cause us to have an inflated sense of self. It can also cause us to create positive and negative mental distortions. Our emotions such as sadness, fear, anger, anxiety impatience and frustrations stem from our egos (I’m not that brilliant, this fact came from an Eckhart Tolle book I read).  I started to notice that my Ego (it’s capitalize because it has a life of its own) manifested itself in almost all of my thoughts. For example, sometimes I think exclusively about my shortcomings and overlook my positive qualities; this is a negative distortion caused by my Ego. Other times I disregard positive facts when they don’t align with my negative thought. For instance, when someone pays me a compliment—while I thank the person, I think to myself that he is only saying it to spit game. Or when I blame myself for something going wrong and ruminate on what I could have done better, while never fully recognizing that the real shortcoming was in the other person–like the guy I mentioned above.

So I finally recognize what needed to be done. It was time to rewrite some of those sticky notes in my head! But first I had to learn to separate my Ego from my true self.

Goodbye Ego:

I’m not going to profess that I have overcome the challenge of clearing the negative sticky notes from my mind, but at the very least, I am learning the importance of standing in my truth. I am becoming more cognizant of my feelings because most of them stem from my Ego, which is the driving force behind most of my perceptions.  It’s still a work in progress, and I haven’t conquered it, but I know that I am in complete control of my thoughts. Therefore, I am now able to decipher when my Ego is playing a role in how I am feeling at any given moment. 

So the feeling of sadness for said guy lasted very briefly when I thought about why I was sad.  It wasn’t because I actually liked him; my sadness was really driven by a deeper fear of being alone.  When I acknowledged that truth, I was able to rewire that distorted sticky note in my head and momentarily kill the Ego.  I am not alone. I have an amazing support system of special people in my life.  Therefore, the notion of loneliness was merely a negative distortion and not my reality. 

My Ego also tried to emerge one day while teaching a law school class. During the beginning of my lecture, the 30 blank faces staring at me caused my mind to start racing.  It was as if I was speaking to them in Arabic or some other foreign language they didn’t understand.  My (Ego’s) immediate thought was, this is my fault, I made this lecture too complicated for them.  I quickly retracted the distorted thought, took a deep breath and asked, “why am I seeing blank faces?”  A student quickly responded that the syllabus had stated that I was covering a different topic that day.  Crisis averted and Ego eliminated—my lecture wasn’t the problem! 

Lesson:

What I’ve learned from killing my Ego is your thoughts are way more powerful than what we verbalize.  They are like post-it notes permanently stuck to your mind.  When we allow our ego to manipulate and distort our thoughts, we give life to things unnecessarily.  Saying farewell to my Ego has been difficult–it was such an integral part of who I was.  It initially left me wondering how to fill its void.  But as I’ve cleared some of the distorted post-it notes from my mind, I’ve  acquired a sense of peace and comfort in learning who I really am and I’ve learned to stop taking myself and life so seriously. 

 

 

 

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The Misadventures of Dating in Your 30s Part 2

As some of you noted to me in your e-mails, comments and Facebook posts, dating in your 30s (40s and even 70s) can be rough.  Part I of this series stirred up great dialogue about lessons learned, the importance of communication and questions about who should pick up the tab on a date?

My intent in writing these dating chronicles isn’t to dissect who is right and where things went wrong.  The goal is to find the humor in a situation that wasn’t so funny at the time.  But I always welcome your comments and opinions on these scenarios.  For those of you who are curious as to which of these were my experiences—technically they all were.  Because as my friends recanted the stories, I felt as if I was experiencing it alongside them.

Recreational Activities

I’m taking her out on our third date.  If I calculate all the money I’ve spent on this woman since our last two dates, she’s close to $250 (not that I’m keeping count). I order the chicken; she orders the steak—go figure. We make more small talk. Our food comes out and she uses her fork to penetrate the steak.  She asks the waiter to send it back–oh no not again! She now wants the fish instead. She has returned a portion of her meal during every date so far. Red flag? The waiter politely obliges. I’m not going to let it bother me this time because I’m focused on the big picture–my steadfast rule: if I’ve been spending money on you, I’m getting some by date number 3!  We enjoy the meal and have a fairly decent conversation. I like her smile, she’s pretty and she’s smart.  Despite her restaurant etiquette I’m starting to dig this woman.  We share a few laughs throughout our meal and I help her with her coat as we depart the restaurant.

We arrive at the front door of her place around 11:30PM.  I’m gazing into her eyes to see if she’s giving me a signal to park and come upstairs.  Before I could make a determination she asks, “do you want to come up for a little bit?”  I don’t hesitate and quickly demonstrate my superb parallel parking skills.  She lives in a five-story walk up—no wonder she stays in shape.  Out of breath I step inside and am greeted by a high-pitched howl—damn she has a dog!  I have a seat on her couch and she brings two glasses of patron and cranberry juice and asks, “do you smoke?” I reply, “nah, I don’t fool with cigarettes, you?”  She responds, “I mean weed silly!”  Feeling a bit goofy, I respond, “oh I tried it a couple times in college.”  Before I could say anything else she was back on her feet.  She returns with a contraption (I later find out it’s called a vaporizer) and two grams of weed.  She lights it up and passes it to me to take a hit.  I hesitate at first, but I tell her I’m good and decide to pass.

It’s 1:00AM and I’ve managed to position my hand on her leg.  She’s high and snuggled into my chest.  With one arm wrapped around my waist and the other hand holding tightly to the vaporizer, in a whisper, she asks, “have you ever tried coke?”  Okay I was just talking myself into getting used to the fact that she blazes on a regular basis.  But she does coke too? Weedhead is one thing, but cokehead?! Is it an occasional thing? Am I overthinking? Should I give it a try?

Little White Lie

I am ready to call it a night after being out at a club.  Since my car keys are in my friend’s car, I can’t leave until she gets in her last round of bootie shaking.  As I impatiently stand against the wall, out of nowhere he approaches.  We exchange pleasantries and he asks me whether (1) I have a boyfriend, (2) I’m single, or (3) in an undefined situation. I’ve never been asked the third option but I like his thoroughness.  The club is dim so I can’t get a good look at his face, but I can tell his body is attractive by his silhouette.  He tells me that he wanted to come over and say hello despite the very serious/mean look on my face.  I’m flattered. Mental note: stop mean mugging. Before he leaves, he asks for my number.  Should I give him my Google number or the real thing?  I will give him the real one since he seems polite, pleasant and pleasing on the eye.

He sends me a text message the next morning.  Damn, what happened to the 3-day rule? After a few exchanges, he calls.  In this new world of text messaging and tweeting, I appreciate a man who still picks up the phone to have a conversation.  We speak for hours on a variety of topics.  His peppering of questions demonstrates his keen interest in getting to know me.  The questions continue and I’m happy to answer honestly to give him insight into who I am.  I’ve already surmised by the many questions that he must have be a lawyer because I am feeling a bit interrogated—in a nice way.  We talk about his short term and long term personal and career goals.  He hopes to get married within the next five years and wants to land a job in the White House.  For a woman in her mid-thirties, his marriage trajectory is music to my ears!  I also like that he is ambitious.

As we’re talking on the phone I decide to search for him on Facebook to see whether we have mutual friends—DC is small, he may have dated someone I know.  He doesn’t come up in my search.  As I am logging into LinkedIn, he asks, “are you a big social media user?”  I tell him I use them sporadically, and ask him whether he uses social media.  Then I notice he has searched for me on LinkedIn. I’m not surprised, the internet makes it so easy for us to be nosey.  “No I’m not really much of a Facebook and Twitter user” he responds.  I ask, “so you’re not one of those who runs a Google search on people you meet?” He replies, “nope.”  I follow up by asking, “would you search someone on LinkedIn?”  He also responds “no”.  “Then why does my LinkedIn account say that you searched my profile a couple of hours ago?”  Damn damn damn! Did I just say that out loud?! Awkward silence.  He calmly says, “I didn’t search for you on LinkedIn.” Side eye. Did he just lie?! I said, “really? That’s’ not what LinkedIn indicates.” More awkward silence.  I switch the subject.   There goes my idea of him being amazing. Was I wrong for asking? If he can lie about this, what else will he lie about?

Inverse Relationship

I leave my favorite Thursday night happy hour spot feeling optimistic about the women I met tonight.  My swag was on 100, resulting in six phone numbers from some very attractive ladies.  The next morning I send them all the same text message: “good mrng. hope u had a good night. great meeting you.” Four out of the six respond. One of them follows up with a text message asking, “when will I see u again?”  After a few more text message exchanges, I focus my attention on her and she becomes my favorite of the six.

Our first date a week later was to see John Legend in concert.  She purchased our tickets and also treated me to dinner. Damn, I could get used to this! We sleep with each other on the first date.  Now that is what you call a new-age woman! Sex was aight but it didn’t last as long as I would have liked. A week later, a card with a gift certificate to my favorite men’s store is delivered to my office.  The card has no name attached.  Nah, this can’t be from her.  It is from her! We spend more and more time together. Within a month, I find myself calling her “baby.”  She’s not too clingy and she doesn’t ask me questions about trying to commit.  I’m feeling her style.  She laughs at my corny jokes, and constantly finds ways to do nice things for me.  She could write a book for all these chicks who are waiting on a man to spend a ton of money on them before they give the man some attention.

Six months pass and she still has the same ride-or-die personality.  But, I’m not sure I want to ride for her the same way.  Why am I hesitating? I’m ready to settle down.  I still frequent my Thursday happy hour spot and I am still talking to women and taking their numbers.  Some of them are slightly more attractive than her and they pique my interest.  I sleep with some of them. I should probably tell her that I don’t know if I can give her what she wants.  But she isn’t asking for anything–yet. I’m ready to settle down, I’m ready to find that woman I want to spend the rest of my life with.  She seems like the right person for me.  She caters to me.  She loves me.  Sometimes I can see myself with her long-term, and other times, I would be indifferent if she stopped speaking to me. She’s not it. How am I going to tell her? She likes me too much. I’ll just ride it out and not say anything.

Brokenhearted Or Heartbreaker?

I was talking with a male friend (yeah I talk a lot) the other day and he mentioned to me that he had never broken up with a woman.  At first I felt very sorry for him.  He’s tall and handsome and a seemingly good catch, so why was it that he was getting such a raw deal?  I mean NEVER breaking up with a woman?  Always the one getting his heartbroken.  My heart went out to him—for a moment.  But then the inquisitive side of me told me to prod a bit further (never take a statement at face value).

So he said that he had never broken up with a female.  Lazy logic would lead one to draw the conclusion that this guy had women dropping him like a bad habit.  But then I asked him a few more questions.  You always wanted to remain in a relationship with these women, yet still they dumped you?  And his response was, “not exactly.”  So now we were getting down to the heart of the matter.  My next question was whether he ever had a relationship that he no longer wanted to be in.  After he replied affirmatively, I followed up by asking him how he ended those relationships.  His response was, “I didn’t.”  Huh?  Wait a minute did I miss something?  Let me get this straight: he’s in a relationship with a woman, he decides it’s not going to work, but she breaks up with him.  That led to my next question, what leads her to want to break up with him?  Ding ding ding…I finally got to the million dollar question!   His response was, “she just knows.”

So Mr. Brokenhearted was actually Mr. Heartbreaker with no balls.  Rather than simply coming out and breaking up with the woman he is with, he resorted to making his actions speak for themselves.  I challenged him on his method, and he simply said he didn’t want to hurt her feelings (news flash: whether you say it or make your actions say it, you’re hurting her feelings).  In case there were some other men out there with a similar mindset, I thought I would provide this recommendation to ALL men out there: You are not helping your cause or sparing a woman’s feelings when you don’t come right out and tell her that you want to break up with her.  Quite frankly, you hurt her more because you allow your ill-treatment of her to cause her to want to break up with you.  And remember to BE HONEST.  If not, then she’s going to draw her own conclusions, which generally aren’t favorable to you.  Don’t come up with a lame excuse that that you have too much on your plate to be in a relationship anymore…we see right through it.  Women are tougher than you think.  There might be a few tears shed (and maybe a few windows smashed) but all-in-all she’ll respect you for saying it.  So man-up and accept the role as heartbreaker because not breaking up with women does not classify you as brokenhearted.

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