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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Sawubona South Africa!

Another Christmas has come and gone so quickly.  It was a pleasant day spent with my family enjoying old traditions and creating new ones.  This year, we are breaking with the usual tradition of spending the week of Christmas at my mother’s house in Florida.  After a lot of coaxing I was able to convince my mother that we should travel to South Africa for the holidays.

So today, my mother (who I often refer to as my Ace) and I will be boarding a 16-hour flight to Cape Town. The next few blog post will document our adventures together in the “motherland”. Making memories with her is important to me however, she and I vacation very differently. We have done mom and daughter trips in the past.  Her idea of a vacation is hitting every shopping mall and buying the most expensive and extravagant items that the country’s high-end boutique stores have to offer (she may also try to find a tribesman and organize an arranged marriage for me).  My idea of a great vacation is laying on the beach with a good book listening to the waves crash against the sand.   Needless to say planning this trip has been its own  adventure. For example, when I gave Ace a draft of our itinerary, her first question was why can’t we use public transportation? She can’t be serious. Her next question was if we were going to take a tour of wine country, why did we have to go to more than 2 wine estates? Breathe.  After explaining that we were not “real Africans” and would stick out like a sore thumb on a local minibus and would be charged an arm and a leg the moment we asked a cab driver to take us somewhere, she conceded to allow me to rent a car. It’s a manual and they drive on the left side of the street so she also made it clear that I am the sole designated driver.  As for the wine estates, she’ll appreciate it once we get there.

SuitcasesSo today begins the adventures of Ace and I in Africa.  She is traveling with THREE full suitcases for a 2 1/2 week trip.  I’m traveling with 2 (one is pretty empty and solely for the purpose of bringing gifts back).  Wheels up!!

….Stay tuned.

Change

“Have no fear of change.  Losing something good could be making room for something great!”

Change used to be one of the most crippling actions for me.  The only things  I didn’t mind changing often were my underwear and my hair.  For most children, consistency is key.  Some adults become bored with a monotonous life, but for a long time, I woke up everyday embracing the monotony.  I took comfort in knowing that my day would be the same as the one that came before it.  And with each day, a fear of change grew deeper.

One day Over the course of time, I embraced the notion that losing something good enabled me to make room for something great.  Lack of change was holding me back.  Not wanting to let go of friends who had almost redefined the definition of friend to foe, holding on to relationships that I knew were heading nowhere out of fear of embracing a better one.  The fear that delving into something new may not bring the outcome that I desire.

Today I feel 100 times lighter and  1000 times happier–I embrace the outcome of what change brings!  The seasons change so why shouldn’t you?  Our attitude toward change determines the effect it will have on our lives.  Looking back at who I used to be and who I am today, I’m grateful for all the good and bad changes I have experienced.  

Things I Learned By 30

Happy Birthday to me!!!  A week ago, I turned the big 3-0.  I woke up on the day of my birthday and checked to see whether any gray hairs began sprouting—thankfully I saw none.  I got out of the bed and did a couple stretches—nothing cracked or broke.  Then, for good measure, I put on a pair of jeans I purchased six years ago, and I had to suck my tummy in they still fit like a glove—check!  Realized this turning 30 thing might  be a great thing not that bad after all.  I am not sure why 30 has become such a milestone.  It seems like the only age one looks forward to (or dreads) after turning 21.  What happened to the nine years in between, do they go by unnoticed?

One might say that those nine years are times of tremendous growth (or lack thereof).  Someone told me that my 30’s would be the best years of my life.  I think that’s also what I was told when I turned 20.  Nevertheless, as I sat down thinking about the culmination of embarking on a new decade, I came up with the following list:

 10 Things I Know at 30:

  1. Better to have a few friends and many acquaintances.
  2. There’s so much that I don’t know and will continue to learn.
  3. I’m not perfect, and will never be—and that’s okay.
  4. You won’t be liked by all, and that’s okay too.
  5. It’s not what you know or who you know, it’s how you use (network) what you know and who you know.
  6. Sleep does a body good (and so does regular exercise).
  7. Don’t burn bridges, because you may need to cross one someday.
  8. Your reputation is your most valuable asset.
  9. Failure (and heartbreak) will occur (more than once) and with the right attitude, you’ll bounce back.
  10. We all make mistakes, the lesson is in learning to make things right.

For all of you who are official members of the 30+ club, feel free to add to the list.

Here’s to turning 30!  Hoping it will be a fabulous decade!!

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