Letters with My Son, Part Four...
Your question of the day: “What kind of tricks has your mind played on you to pay your ego?”
Well this would be a very long list.
But really, it is just one trick, over and over and over, taking different shapes and forms, believing that I am better or worse than anyone else. That is the only trick the ego really has to play.
The mind can create all kinds of scenarios...I mean all kinds. Every minute of every day the mind is trying to make sense out of all the information it is getting. So it makes up stories:
“That person just dissed me because they hate me”
“That person just paid me a compliment because they want something from me.”
“That person doesn’t like me because they are jealous of me”
It goes on and on. But behind each of these scenarios, is the same issue: the ego needing to believe that it is better (or worse) as the case may be, and the mind cooperating fully in providing ideas disguised as fact to help the story unfurl.
Here is what I know for sure: My ego is an endless spiral of need, want and desire. It is endless. There will never be enough attention, love, money, beauty, self confidence, lust, joy or recognition to ever satisfy my ego. This is why my mind is enlisted to assist so often. The ego needs the minds cooperation to assist in making sure that the stories of the ego get told. The mind's job is to grab other facts, often completely unrelated, and add them into the mix so that the egoic story can be worse or better as the situation requires.
I have broken hearts and friendships because my ego and mind have paired up to “trick” me into believing something that was wholly wrong. And it still happens today, this is not a thing of the past. This is a fact of life that will be with me so long as I am breathing in and out.
But what helps me most is to recognize that all of the stories, all of the stuff worked up by my mind to pay my ego, all come from the same place...this idea that there are actually people who are better or worse than me in this world. And so long as I believe that, I am always going to be susceptible to whatever junk my mind comes up with to soothe my delicate ego.
So far, the only defense I have ever found is to recognize that I am just a person, and so are they (whomever they might be). We all want the same things in life: truth, kindness, love, joy, peace. And every being has a fundamental right to those things and so the only real question for me ever is “Am I helping others get those things? Truth, kindness, love, joy or peace?” And if the answer is no, then it is likely because my ego is running the show. And if the answer is yes, then I need to stop right there and not take it any further because my ego will then use this good thing as a further weapon against me, and then all of a sudden, I am the best!
Humility used to only come in the form of great humiliation. But today I feel that humility is something that exists in the middle, a life fulcrum in the teeter tottering of life. The more I move to the extremes of good or bad, the quicker I plummet to the ground. And as it turns out, I am not a big fan of a mad rush to the floor, or ground, or whatever. I, instead, really prefer to be present, hovering in the pleasant middle where you are good, I am good and everything is stable and safe.
My ego has always driven me to extremes. Hard ones at that. Today I know that my ego works best when it co-ops my mind and its story weaving abilities make it grandiose, self centered and selfish. I have to watch for these three things because they are the harbingers of ego related consequences every single time.
Do good deeds because you can.
Own the bad deeds you do because you are human and fallible.
You are not the best and you are also not the worst.
In truth, we are all just walking each other home. And showing up in your authentic skin, working on your shit, owning what is yours and letting others do the same, seems like the best way to march through this life. Remembering always that my head lies to me constantly but I believe it like it always tells the truth. So, today, I have developed a healthy amount of skepticism about what my mind conjures and remain ever watchful of all storylines that cast me as a central character. I am not. I am just here, trying to live this life, one moment at at time doing my best. And some days my best will be amazing and other days, my best will not.
That is what I know honey. At my core, without a lot of spiritual work, I am an addict who cares nothing about others and only for herself. This much I know is true. So I have to remain vigilant to watch for how this bubbles up into my life even though I am not active in my addiction. I do that by working a program, praying, meditating and service every minute of every day of my life. And the payoff, because I mean there has to be a payoff for me to be willing to do all of that, the payoff is, that when I do the above, my ego is beaten into a state of reasonableness which allows me to live happy, joyous and free, not hurting myself or anyone else. And that, my sweet, kind son, is how I defeat the tricks and stories the mind tells me to pay my ego, one day at a time.