Killing the Ego

Posted by on Jun 20, 2012 in Blog | 1 comment

Killing the Ego

I wrote this post back in December 2008 when I had spontaneously decided to do something that shook me to the core… I had signed up for a yoga teacher training program in Costa Rica.  I had a pretty inconsistent and underdeveloped practice, I was not thin or yoga-teacher looking, and I had a huge fear of heading out on my own (I had previously bailed out of a year long experience to school in Australia out of sheer terror of being alone and regretted it so deeply).

This is to anyone who doubts themselves.  We are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for.  Our potentials outreach our perceptions.  Dive.

*The image I’ve used here was shot in Costa Rica as I lifted into my very first arm balance.  I had actually cried while looking at the Yoga Journal book of poses before this training because I knew we’d be working on arm balances, and I knew I could never do them.  In 3 weeks, I learned to shift not only my body but my way of thinking.

Killing the Ego (Dec. 2008)

My ego has protected me for a long time.  It kicked in when I was teased as a chubby kid.  It kicked in when a particular crush was unrequited.  It kicked in when a very good friend and I parted ways.  It sheltered me and tried its very best to keep things copacetic.  But there has been a darker side to my ego that perhaps carries an even stronger influence.  This is the side that ‘protects’ me by trying to keep me where I am, wherever that ‘am’ may be.  It manifests counter arguments grounded in fear and the possibility of failure.  My anxiety flourished for years and years because something inside me was making me terrified of the thought of change.  It also fooled me into thinking “This is me!”  (that’s the trick of the ego).  Sticking with an unfulfilling job day after day was encouraged because to do something else would mean upsetting my status quo.

In the last few months, I’ve been working very hard at quieting the ego and working on immediacy.  I’m trying to care less about protecting myself and more about experiencing the opportunities that come into my life.  My 20s were all about indulgences and self-defeating behaviors masked below an illusion of perfection.  My 30s (though I’m early on) seem to be about working beyond my need for external validation and appreciation, and striving for a more happy, healthy and grounded self.  It is this work, this labor of the self, that led me to break away from that work environment that was slowly poisoning me from the inside out.  It led me to work on the perfectionism and body issues.  And it led me to fight through a fit of panic and push the “purchase now” button for a non-refundable flight to Costa Rica for a yoga teacher training program.  I seem, at least to myself, to be making huge strides.  I feel like I’m really getting somewhere.

But last night I had multiple dreams that were working very hard to keep me in place.  In one dream, my dog got sick again and I knew I couldn’t get away.  I was washed over with a feeling of relief that I didn’t have to leave and follow through with my plan.  My ego was hoping I would identify with this and allow that feeling of relief to convince me that I was making a mistake.  In another dream, I was at the yoga training and we were all trying to take a bus somewhere.  I was looking around the bus and all of the people on there looked like professional athletes.  The males had their tops off and had the physiques of Michael Phelps, while the women looked like members of the Canadian rowing team.  And there I stood, feeling weak and frail and helpless, ashamed and embarrassed.  I felt overwhelmed and kept thinking to myself, “what am I doing?  I can’t do this.  I’m not strong.  I’m just not strong…”.  And then I woke up.  And you know, for the first 10 minutes of being awake, I bought into it.  I walked down the stairs and put on the coffee thinking “what AM I doing?”  And I felt totally afraid that I’d made a mistake.  Then as I was sitting there drinking my coffee, looking out into the snow, I thought about the pattern of quitting I’ve committed to over the years.  Every time I don’t follow through with something, it is out of fear.  And then I mistake the relief I feel for happiness.  But relief doesn’t last long.  I realized that yet again this is my ego trying desperately to reach me where I’m most weak:  my love for my dog, and my deeply rooted body issues.  (She will die while you’re away!  You won’t have a body as strong and fit as theirs!)  But what the ego doesn’t realize is how much of my waking time is spent shutting it up.  In the light of day, I can see it for what it is.  The fear mongering doesn’t appear to be working.  I am okay with not being as strong.  I am going there to become stronger.  And the dog?  She’ll be fine.  There are lots of caring people taking care of her, and she’s got the meds on board.

I’m so tired of being terrified of my potential.  This morning has revealed to me that the little chips I’ve been making in the ice are giving way to a crevasse.  But more than this, I feel almost equipped enough to deal with falling in.

One Comment

  1. And this is when I met you, lucky me!! I think we all battled with ourselves and our egos about the teacher training. Some of us came back as better practitioners of yoga asanas, and some of us came back as better yogis. It’s so awesome to read about all the physical, mental and spiritual growth that started with a double click on the ‘buy now’ icon!

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