Laughing at myself

"My studio"...Noah and Fred sleeping in the middle of it all!

“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.

22 thoughts on “Laughing at myself

  1. It’s no secret that when you want to change something , you need to substitute a positive for the negative. I love the message “I am not diminished, I am expanding” . That ego wants me stuck! Thank you! Best wishes on your upcoming grandchild. You and Jack will be loving additions to this child’s life.

  2. Another post that has so much texture to it. There are many threads to weave together to come to wholeness. Wonderful food for thought for the day. I’m sure this post will be one that will resonate with many of us as we have become grandparents and have experienced the same thoughts you so generously shared with us. Then the thoughts/image must be borne and not disputed. Eckhart’s quote to “Allow the self-image to remain diminished and become alert to what that feels like deep inside you” and to get to “an inner spaciousness that feels intensely alive.”

  3. Mary, a dry spell has produced such creative and profound writing this morning. I will be rereading this and thinking that I will look for Eckhart Tolle’s book. An incident happened in our family three weeks ago with the 18 yr. old son of my son’s partner of eight years, for whom anger is an ever present danger and constant issue (along with drugs). This anger has been directed towards my adult son. Counselling my adult son not to not respond to this young man’s anger has resulted in the taunting of “why can’t you fight like a man” on the younger boys part and has escalated to the point where the family will no longer be a family, as a third physical attack has occurred with police involvement. The heartbreak is great for us as a family. Yet the ego controls everything it seems. In anger, the ego takes over and causes such destruction in people’s lives and it’s hard to step back and look at how the ego manages to control our lives and minds. Only when my mind is at peace am I able to do this with more mindful thinking. Thank you for this gift this morning, Mary, a very great one for me personally today and Mary Solomon, your thoughts only add to the message in such a positive way.
    SandyP in Canada

  4. Recently on OWN – Oprah’s TV Network – there were repeat episodes of Oprah’s web class with Eckhart Tolle on the book “A New Earth.” I had watched originally and have DVR’d the recent replays and have been “meaning” to watch them. I certainly got motivated today by Mary’s post to, in fact, re-watch these episodes. I also discovered that you can watch them online – here is a link – for the first episode. ALSO!!!! one thing that I LOVED the first time around were the after show discussions with Elizabeth Lesser. Well, those are all available for free on ITunes as Podcasts – search for “a new earth after show” at ITunes store. I remember being so impressed by her comments and discussion.

    I know I am in “a different place” now since the original reading and airing of these shows. Looking forward to getting back in touch with this. I think it was when Sandy P. said that she was going to look for the book that added the final “push.”

    • Well, my book is to arrive on Wed., according to But why is it that I can’t absorb things as easily when my mind is troubled with other things. Somehow I either have to feel peaceful to take in what I’m reading of that nature or it does me no good…I can’t shut out the other bothersome side of my mind. I’ll swear that one side of my mind is god-like and spiritual and the other is nothing but the devil bedeviling me.

  5. You are the second ‘mom’ who has voiced adult children issues with me in recent days. Another friend has a son who is relocating across the country and she isn’t too keen on the idea. One thing that continues to strike me is that when we were the young adults, didn’t we move away from our parents (I know this woman I mentioned did), did we call our parent every day with updates on what was going on in our lives? Well, we daughters might have but certainly not a son. I am constantly reminded to remember what I did way back then… A funny story, when our son was in college and my husband told him he would make breakfast in a Saturday morning and he should come over. Didn’t my husband have a bit of a hissy fit when our 23 year old son didn’t arrive at the aforementioned time. I started laughing at my husband and said “and at 23 you would have rushed over on a Saturday morning to have breakfast with your dad, I think not!” It’s so easy to forget how we were, since we have aged and evolved into our present selves.
    I feel your pain Mary, I also want to be important in my children’s lives and while I believe I am, sometimes it’s not enough. Sending love to you and yours and to your about-to-be grandchild (I’m a bit jealous as all my grandchildren have four legs 😊)

  6. My daughter and husband had a baby in March, my first grandchild, and fortunately, they live only
    40 minutes away. My daughter’s best friend was able to stay with them for nearly a month and at first I was so hurt and jealous. Wasn’t that supposed to be my role as grandmother? I was embarrassed that I felt that way. But as the days passed I realized how wonderful it was for my daughter, husband and granddaughter to have someone there all the time, helping with the baby, doing laundry, cooking meals, running errands. I couldn’t have been there that much and, even though I knew that, I still felt left out. Time is what healed the wounds in this case. I kept my feelings to myself (one of the 10 Commandments of grandmotherhood!) and watched things play out and eventually realized that everything was as it should be. I’m sure that many of your future postings relating to your grandchild and all of the issues involved will ring true for me as well. Maybe we can help each other!

  7. Dear Mary, thank you for your wise and uplifting perspectives. I am currently listening to Eckhart Tolle’s “Resist Nothing” CD series and loving it! He has a wonderful, refreshing and soothingly piercing way of showing the truth about awakening. I am finding his teachings enlightening and very powerful. The ego mind is such an interesting character….it can be friend/foe all at the same time. I am finding that loving- kindness awareness towards myself is a healing way of understanding the busy ego mind.

  8. Mary – loved this post, as I can see myself in it! I am re-reading “The Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer. He writes about this “other” mind that we have, that makes up stories so that we can feel safe, secure and anchored. This book altered me, forever, just as Eckhart’s “The Power of Now.” When the student is ready, the teachers appear! Thank you!!

  9. Mary, this last post speaks so clearly to my situation with our 24 yr old son, who I felt so bonded with when he lived at home, and then he graduated and moved out and has had only a very distant relationship with us since. My expectations, my needs, my desires, my ego….they have all taken a beating. He recently did tell us he is moving in with his girlfriend, who we adore, and the ego and desires rise once again, wanting to help them set up their home, trying so hard for her to like me. *SIGH* Sometimes it feels like it never stops. My weekly meditation class, where we study Buddhist principles, helps so much, and so do your columns. (If my son and DIL were expecting, I would be half our of my mind!)

  10. Mary, as a frustrated artist who hasn’t entered her studio in five years (lots of reasons, most of them surmountable), seeing your new creations is very inspiring. May I ask, are the images on these pieces collage, or are they original images by you? Do you put primer or gesso on the wood first? Thank you!

    • Thank you so much, Betsy! The paintings are all originals. I will, at times, sit with a piece of wood and sort of ask it what it wants to have painted on it. Sometimes, I will just begin with an egg or a crown and then the rest is revealed. I prime the wood first (with a basic wood primer) and then paint the background with an acrylic (artist quality) paint. I appreciate your questions.

  11. Love this post! Eckhart Tolle, here I come! I really appreciated all of the thoughtful comments this morning. As I read the references to our spiritual journey, how we often feel we should be farther “ahead” on our path, – a book I have on my coffee table caught my eye – pages and pages of beautiful mandalas. Maybe our journey in this life is more like a mandala. Instead of trying to measure how “far” along we are, as if there is some magical destination point to arrive at, – perhaps envisioning a mandala, moving at a slow andleisurely pace where there are infinite paths to take, some intersecting, some bringing you back to a place you were before, no one better than the other, but all full of lessons and beauty. As a new grandmother myself, it is so beautiful to witness the intense love of a mother for her newborn and the tiny baby for his mother. It brings back the most beautiful memories of having walked that path myself – this time around, it is ‘her’ turn, and I am blessed to be a part of this circle of life. Blessings to all for a beautiful weekend!

  12. My first grand child is now 8 months old and I have the privilege of two days of child care with her. Just the two of us with a lunchtime nursing visit from my daughter. It is so sweet and I know how lucky I am. Grand child #2 is in the works, 1200 miles away….I ache to rub the belly, to do helpful things, but the text photos will have to suffice. There is always another spiritual challenge around the bend and it usually involves surrender , in my case. Blessings to you all.

  13. “You haven’t been diminished at all; you have been expanded.”
    All puffed up like a balloon, waiting for the next pin prick from ego to deflate us once again; round and round we go. We silly mortals must look mighty comical from a detached perspective. And laughing at myself has become easier, lighter and so much more gratifying than getting my panties all bunched up! I only have to see a photo or hear a recording of the Dalai Lama, giggling like a child, to remind myself of the ‘path’. It leads us right here to the Farm and our common bonds, cackling and smiling our way home.
    Happy baby-waiting, Mary. That will be one lucky child!

  14. I did the same thing awaiting my first Grandchild! Congrats on soon to become a Gramma! You will love it. At first I worried it’d make me feel old.(it’s all about me) But it made me feel so happy and proud! I think the bride’s family somehow always comes first. So it’s tough to be the Mom of the groom regardless. I saw your lovely art work last w/e in Jack’s shop. I also saw the soon to be “Mary’s Room”. Love to you as you begin this new life chapter. 🙂

  15. This was an absolutely wonderful, revealing post . Thank you so much bringing a clearer understanding towards handling that egoic mind . It does seem like my ego has fought so long and hard to preserve itself , thinking: but I have a right to think this way because it’s true, it’s really what I feel! But making a practice of calming myself and letting those feelings pass ( diminish) when those kinds of defensive thoughts overtake me would surely make life easier…. So with renewed awareness and the helpful links to Eckhart Tolle’s work , I’ll be more prepared to let go of my sometimes distressed state and really understand what is going on.
    On a lighter note ( which your pictures always convey) seeing the kitties happily resting amidst your work- my small, sweet cat Ziggy will often rest on my piano bench under my elbow , as I practice .

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