“My studio”…Noah and Fred sleeping in the middle of it all!**
I am going to be a grandmother any day now. So basically, I have been thinking about my son, daughter-in-law, and the baby, 24/7. When I go out, I take my phone and I don’t turn it off…just in case “the call” comes. This time has been a great teacher for me, because while Tom and Lindsay are “front and center” in my mind, I am just barely “on the stage” in theirs.
Even though I believe that this is the way life should be, my ego has been taking a major hit. There is no need for them to call me every day….even though I think about them all the time and want to talk…even though I really have nothing new to say. When I do talk to my son, he says, “No news yet, we’ll let you know.” They are always loving and sweet and yet, a part of me wants more, and a part of me feels left out.
I feel very grateful that I can recognize this little part of me that always thinks it should be center stage, gets its feelings hurt on a regular basis, and wants to be important. Thank god I finally know that it isn’t really the larger part of me and yet, sometimes, when I forget this, I believe the sad, pitiful, story it tells me, and I feel bad.
For many years, I believed every story that my egoic mind told me. I didn’t think that there was any difference between that mind and me. Life was very difficult when I lived this way. Every time I was upset, I thought it was important and something that needed to be talked out (usually with the person that I was upset with or I feared was upset with me). I thought that my feelings and my thoughts about situations were very important and “the truth”, so I looked for resolution on the outside.
A huge difference came for me when I began to address these “issues” by recognizing that the unhappy stories were not that important, were certainly not coming from the larger part of me, and very often were not the truth at all. Sometimes, right in the middle of one, I would be able to say to myself, “Isn’t this interesting. I am feeling left out or insulted or…” Once I could do this, I was never completely lost in this egoic mind again (or at least not for long).
There are plenty of people who will listen to a story like mine and think things like, “You shouldn’t feel that way, how selfish, I didn’t think that you were that petty, or you should be further along the spiritual path than this”…but to all of those people (and of course “those people” are only the thoughts in my own mind) I can say, “And those are just unhappy stories too.”
We all have this little mind, no matter how far along the path we are. But knowing that it isn’t speaking The Truth is a huge step. Sometimes, when I find myself in the middle of one of these stories, I will say, “This is happening for me” and I will instantly feel relief, like I have just remembered that I made up this story, am now reacting to it, and also have the abiltiy to stop. Then, I usually laugh.
“The ego is always on guard against any kind of perceived diminishment. Automatic ego-repair mechanisms come into effect to restore the mental form of ‘me’. When someone blames or criticizes me, that to the ego is a diminishment of self, and it will immediately attempt to repair its diminished sense of self through self-justification, defense, or blaming. Whether the other person is right or wrong is irrelevant to the ego. It is much more interested in self-preservation than the truth. This is the preservation of the psychological form of ‘me’. Even such a normal thing as shouting back when another driver calls you ‘idiot’ is an automatic and unconscious ego-repair mechanism.
One of them most common ego-repair mechanisms is anger, which causes a temporary but huge ego inflation. All repair mechanisms make perfect sense to the ego but are actually dysfunctional. A powerful spiritual practice is consciously to allow the diminishment of ego when it happens, without attempting to restore it. I recommend that you experiment with this from time to time. For example, when someone criticises you, blames you, or calls you names, instead of immediately retaliating or defending yourself, do nothing. Allow the self-image to remain diminished and become alert to what that feels like deep inside you. For a few seconds, it may feel uncomfortable, as if you had shrunk in size. Then you may sense an inner spaciousness that feels intensely alive.
You haven’t been diminished at all. You have been expanded.”
pp 214-215 (from the chapter, Finding Who You Truly Are, A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle.
** I am putting some new paintings up on “My Artwork” page this morning.