A Few Thoughts on Ego, Self-Sabotage and Our Fragile Existence

I’m going to make a bet that when your ego reads the title of this post, you’ll instantly close the window or pop over to something more comfortable. 

Self-sabotage? Who, me?

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When you lift the veil from the trickster, then it becomes easier to address and work through. More often than not, you are unconsciously avoiding issues that you aren’t ready to work on. I do it all the time, so don’t worry.. you aren’t alone by any means. If you are reading this, then it sounds like you are coming to terms with your ego, your inner self that works daily to keep you safe and protected. It keeps us from anything it deems scary and uncomfortable, so that we can rest easy knowing there is no danger around. But we are humans, evolved to live in houses that protect us from imminent danger like predators and other sorts of things. So why does our ego feel the need to go out of its way to protect us when there isn’t any danger?

Our ego helps us to perceive the world around us, but unfortunately, it isn’t always accurate.  It thinks literally anything is a threat to our safety, our wholeness. It’s working with many years of conditioning, so there are lots of misperceptions happening. If someone calls you ugly or dumb, we tend to immediately feel threatened and hurt even though they were just words being spoken. They can’t hurt us physically. But they do hurt our hearts. They are a direct threat to our identity, what we unconsciously or consciously construct to create an idea of who we are. It hurts to feel less than we are, and usually, we jump to the conclusion of rejection. Which gets mistaken for a threat of danger.. death.

This topic is actually super complex, but I’ll try to break it down in easy-to-understand language. I’m still trying to understand and integrate myself.

So when were born, we came out as a separate form. Whatever we were prior to being a tiny baby, whether it be energy, a soul, nothingness, etc, we were whole. We were complete and infinite. There were no physical boundaries to limit our existence. Now, we are humans, separate, with systems and organs to perceive our surroundings and make sense of it all. Still following?

As humans, we don’t even have the brain capacity to understand or fathom our prior wholeness, and it’s easy to forget our true nature. I mean, look at us, we are literally separate from the couch we are sitting on, the computer we scroll on, the trees around us, our friends and family, I could go on. Because this is what we feel and see, it is what we perceive to be true and we just roll with it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s bad that we perceive life in physical form. I just think we are a bit misguided in a way. Which, again, isn’t a bad thing. It’s just part of being a human.

Instead of having to go out and scavenge and hunt, we have evolved to lead complex lives, with 9-5 jobs, family problems, fast food restaurants, and social media. The leap from animalistic behavior to human behavior included new brain structures. Instead of fight-or-flight ruling our lives, we grew parts of the brain to help us think logically, weigh the pros and cons of our decisions, and experience emotions like joy and sadness. Granted, we are still prone to trust the primitive parts of our being, but we grew to be smarter and use our judgment to assess dangers. But it’s interesting, because somewhere along the way, we have almost lost touch with our ability to implement our higher order thinking skills. 

The more I think about it, the more I realize how out of touch with death we have become. Without the threat of danger always present, we have forgotten how fragile life is. How easy it is to be here one day and gone the next. We cover our eyes with Netflix, our careers, literally anything to distract us from the huge existential questions that still persist, even when you don’t think about them. 

Okay, that was a bit of a tangent, but I think it’s still relevant. So everyone is fairly familiar with identity. It’s this construct of what idea we have of ourselves. What we create for others to call to mind when they think about us. For example, I have lived most of my life thinking I was a shy, smart, funny girl. If anyone were to say anything like, “your jokes aren’t funny” or “I bet you only wear glasses to look smart” (which someone has actually said to me), I would immediately tense up. Maybe not to the point of feeling it, but my defenses would be triggered. Someone is denying this idea I have of myself. What if they are right? What if I am wrong and I’m not actually smart or funny? What would that mean for me? Well, it would crush my identity. Who am I behind this identity I’ve created? And no, it’s not “nothing”. But we think it’s nothing. We are in this human body and we have nothing to show for it other than the life we create or the image we project. 

BUT THIS ISN’T TRUE! 

We are innately whole. We are from a larger source, God’s children, smaller pieces of the big puzzle of life, what have you. We all have different ways of saying the same thing, but either way you call it, we are still whole. We have never lost our wholeness. We will never lose it. 

That’s why we have to be careful about falling back onto our identity, our ego. It’s not really who we are. Yes, it’s nice to differentiate ourselves from others and help us feel unique and special, but don’t forget your true, special, and holy nature. The “whole” doesn’t call itself “I”. Because it isn’t an “I”. We call ourselves “I” to make sense of our existence and to separate ourselves from everything else. You can be an “I” if you want, there’s no problem with it. But don’t get lost in the idea of being this person that you have to keep up with and never make mistakes.

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So let me try to get back on topic, I got a little carried away again. So remember the ego? In an attempt to keep us safe, secure, and free from danger aka death, it always chooses safety and comfort. Which is great. Being comfortable is always a good idea. I wouldn’t want to live the rest of my life sitting in a position that was painful and really hurt my leg. But when it comes to living our dreams, becoming who we were meant to be in this life, you have to be honest with yourself and your ego, and willingly choose to be uncomfortable. You don’t HAVE to, but I just want you to know that it is you yourself holding you back. No one else. 

But it’s so tricky. Because the ego is doing its job. It’s not like it’s bad or evil because it opts for comfort and no risks. It’s just something to be mindful of. Take this example. You are kind of shy. You have the opportunity to go out, but you’d be by yourself, and that in and of itself is a scary idea. But you could meet some really cool people. You could have some fun. You could also embarrass yourself or get made fun of. It could go either way. But no matter what happens, it’s not like you are going to die, right? If you are operating without awareness of your ego, then you’ll probably opt to stay inside. Which is fine. But what if you missed out on meeting your new best friend? Finding someone super interesting that you want to get to know more? Hear a really awesome band in your hometown? Our ego perceives this threat of hurting our pride and identity as danger, so if it thinks it’s a really big danger, it will allow you to think it’s fine to stay home.

But do you want to live the rest of your life that way? If you do, sure, it’s fine, seriously. You do you. I just know that I got to a point where I was tired of holding myself back from all the possibilities. Yeah, taking risks is scary and I get really uncomfortable and anxious all the time. But I have gained so much from mustering the courage to talk to strangers, to go out by myself, to try new things. My relationship with myself is better, my relationship with what I perceive God to be is growing stronger, I’m accomplishing things I’ve never dreamed of. I just want everyone to know what is possible, because for a long time, I didn’t believe it. 

I guess the whole point of this post was about self-sabotage, but it seems like I needed to explore some of those existential things first. So I mentioned my relationship with myself is getting better. Through this development I have become mega aware of my ego and all the work it is doing silently to sabotage me when I’m not looking. And we all fall victim to this. Going out to eat when we have a fridge full of groceries, choosing ice cream instead of the gym even though we really want to get better at taking care of our bodies, retreating back into our shell even though we met someone really kind and funny because they aren’t the usual emotionally unavailable conquest. There’s plenty of ways it happens. And I realized that my life is filled with self-sabotage.

And it sucks. It truly breaks my heart to know there is a part of me working against myself and all my hard work. But that just inspires me to work harder. To figure this out. I know that our shadow is just trying to keep us safe. It doesn’t want us to take risks or try new things because that introduces the possibility of failure, of pain, of rejection. Even though it’s not a life or death situation, we think that this denial and rejection means that we are not worthy or deserving of wholeness. Which is a weird and messed up perception that our ego has concocted over the years. But it’s okay. It just is. We aren’t perfect as humans and this is just part of our natural tendency to make errors, mistakes, and misjudgments. 

So now that I’ve made this known in my world, that I am this walking talking dichotomy, it’s a lot easier to sit with. I call it like I see it, and my ego knows, too. It knows that its defense mechanisms are losing power. I still have some parts in my life that fall victim to sabotage, but it’s becoming easier. I have to constantly remind myself of my true nature, that I’m just a human dealing with human shit, that I am more than deserving of anything I want, that being uncomfortable means you are growing, that life is about learning and loving and most importantly, living. The way out of the trap is through love, most importantly, self-love, and acceptance, as I’m learning is the case with most things in this life. I have to remember to be grateful for the part of me that is looking out for my safety, but I have to remind myself that I am strong and capable and that it’s okay if I fail. I am just dreaming of the day when I can be best friends with my shadow, and then we’ll be unstoppable.

I can feel it coming very soon, and I’m getting so excited to truly embrace my wholeness.

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