Friday, September 7, 2018

Egonomics


There is a part of our minds that functions to limit us. Some call it ego; others refer to it as egoic mind. This idea does not refer to Freud’s concept of ego; in his model the ego is the mediator between our instincts and our social self. The term ego has undergone multiple transformations since it first appeared in Freud's psychoanalytic theory. Eric Berne brought the ego into cultural narrative with his theory on ego states. Berne divided the emotional states, or ego states, into the parent, the adult, and the child. Berne and others further subdivided these ego states until there are too many aspects of mind to keep up with without being trampled by the intellect! All respect to Berne. I think he was a genius.

People refer to someone who has an exaggerated self-image by saying she's all ego or that that's his ego talking. We say, “He has a big ego.” We use the term egotistical as a pejorative. People have even turned the word ego into an acronym. Easing God Out or Easing Good Out. Some people define the ego as a useful part of the mind; they prefer to befriend it. Others think the ego should be annihilated, and some realize that the ego must be carefully watched and tamed, lest it become the gatekeeper of our mental prisons. A Course in Miracles invites us to “Watch your mind for the temptations of the ego, and do not be deceived by it. It offers you nothing. When you have given up this voluntary dis-spiriting, you will see how your mind can focus and rise above fatigue and heal. Yet you are not sufficiently vigilant against the demands of the ego to disengage yourself. This need not be.

While many people dispute the circuitous route ACIM takes on the way to peace, the course nails the destructive element of the mind and refers to it as ego. Just as one uses the word love in different ways, people use the term ego to refer to different things. Regardless of whether we use the word ego to refer to someone’s grandiosity or use it to describe a part of our mind that takes part in the organization of the personality, it is helpful to have a word that describes a part of our mind that limits us. Egonomics provides that clarity and defines the ego as a part of the mind that limits us at every turn and thwarts our best efforts at healing unhealthy and ineffective beliefs, emotions, and behaviors.

Using the concept of the ego as a limiting device, here are some characteristics and thoughts about the ego and its function.
  • The ego’s foundation is fear. This is emotional and psychological fear. This is not the same fear one has when a bear runs toward them.
  • The ego bases its operation on protecting one from this fear.
  • The ego’s fears are illusory.
  • The ego fears its own destruction. The ego takes on a life of its own and uses the personality to fulfill its needs and pass on its legacy. This legacy is spirit poor and rich in control and divisiveness.
  • The ego feeds the mind endless stories of travail in order to cement its position in the psyche.
  • The ego’s motto is, “Seek, but do not find.”
  • The ego feeds on special relationships to get what it thinks it needs to stay alive and be in charge. This is “loving to get.” Naturally, this faux love has a self-serving agenda.
  • When we are afraid and upset and there's no bear around or other life-threatening circumstances, we are operating under the influence of the ego. When the ego rules, we live in a drunken state of fear.
  • It takes an ego to point out an ego.
  • The ego gets all its material from the past and then diverts the mind away from the present.
The above information seems daunting, but it can be liberating to expose erroneous mental constructs. It is revelatory when we understand that part of the mind is out to get us. We can refer to the ego’s plan as the ultimate plot for self-sabotage. Knowing that all its thoughts and feelings are not helpful, we can choose another way.

Operating under the influence of the ego is like having a road map that only goes to New York City. We load up the family to go to Florida, take out the New York City road map, and head out. We never get where we want to go using the New York City map. We use the same map on all trips, so whether we're headed to Hong Kong or Hilton Head, we always end up in the same place, New York City. That's what the ego wants. It wants us to end up in the same place with every mind trip we take. The ego wants us under its spell and it’s not a magic spell. It’s the spell from hell.
What is the way out? How can we sober up from the ego drunkenness? We sober up in one of two ways. We can go directly to wholeness or we can use stepping stones to wholeness. Either way leads us away from the ego and into the promised land.

The Direct Approach - Love. Love, accessed in the moment, dissolves the ego’s effect. Love is always present, and the direct approach is the fastest, easiest, and most accessible option.

The Stepping Stone Approach - Forgiveness. When blinded by ego’s effect, forgiveness walks us away from the ego. It heads us into our essence, which is love. We forgive others for not acting the way we want them to act because we want peace. Forgiveness means letting go of the upset that surrounds the situation, and, while it is difficult to let go of certain situations, it is never impossible. Why? Because we always have help.

“If you knew who walked beside you on the way that you have chosen, fear would be impossible.” (ACIM) When we believe life is hopeless, we are ego drunk. When we believe nothing works for us, we are under the influence. When we think situations or people hold the key to our happiness, we are under the influence. When we think the world is evil, we are under ego’s influence. When we stop and turn toward ever-present love, we stop the ego in its tracks. All doubt, all pain, and all hopelessness disappear. And that’s the good news. “Delay does not matter in eternity, but it is tragic in time.” (ACIM) The way out of pain is here. Jerry Jampolsky wisely proclaims, “Love is letting go of fear.” This path stands waiting, loaded with love, for a decision to abandon the map to New York City and to choose the path of love, and when we do, life is always EZier and EZier.

Anne

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Body Talk

I used to be prejudiced toward older people. Maybe I still am. I didn’t realize the prejudice existed. I thought I was cool and that I calculated people's value equally.

As I aged, the bias turned itself against me. I loved my flaming curly red hair, but at age 52, I felt the call of the wild: “Go natural.” I cut my hair into a boy-like cut and waited for the salt and pepper. It wasn’t there. My daily mirror checks exposed a crop of white hair. I called myself Quetip. I was one white-topped woman. One day a child pointed at me and asked his mom, “What is that grand mama doing?” I hold nothing against being a grand mom—really, I love it—but something snapped. That day I stepped out of my youth and became an older adult. I entered the youth of my old age.

I remember climbing the steps of the pyramids outside of Mexico City. I was greeted by an elder who said, “Welcome to the end of your youth.” I was 40 and wasn’t ready to give it up! I thought, “What does he know?” Twelve years later, I gave in. I was maturing.

I began to notice subtle changes in the way people looked at me. Maybe it was a projection, but people looked through me or past me as they hurried through their lives. As a younger woman, one who was often center stage, I was used to being noticed, but now, I receded to the sidelines of life.

My sister had a heart attack and I raced to LA to assist her recovery. When she returned home, she carried an assisted living package – a walker.  All of the sudden walkers were cool. I checked out the older passersby as I strolled through the streets of LA. I stopped and talked with people about their walkers. Behind these walkers were interesting people, not old folks. Again, my prejudices made themselves known. I previously looked down on people using canes and walkers, but now my contemporaries were using walking aids, wheel chairs, and scooters. As I awakened from a silent fog, I wondered, “How many filters and preconceived notions lurk in the dark corners of my mind? What thoughts do I look through that determine how I view others?” There’s not an answer; it was a moment of recognition: the mind has its secrets.

I’ve settled into my older years and continue to uncover and heal my prejudices. People don’t look at me the way they used to, but I’ve discovered that the transition from younger to older is not only about who I think I am; it’s about letting go of an image that I believed gave me some kind of advantage in life. No longer do I hold the success images of youth. I have less money; my wrinkled face watches the jiggles as I walk. Things hang off my body that previously stood at attention, but there’s a softness replacing the vigor of youth. There’s a knowing that I never was those things. I was never a body. I was never young or old. I was never my thoughts or beliefs. They were just an operating system. I was more, always more, and knowing that certainly makes my life EZier and EZier.

Anne

Friday, July 13, 2018

I'm a Chewer

I come from a long line of chewers. My mom was an avid gum chewer. My paternal grandmother chewed tobacco. I live in the south, and everywhere I look, there are gum chewers. Some chewers are discreet, while others noisily chomp, smack, and spray. I think of myself as a closet chewer, at least in public. I hold the gum in the side of my mouth, and when no one's looking, I bite into my crack. Yes, gum is crack to me.

Gum was my partner when my fiancé left me. It took me through divorce, a baby, remarriage, the purchase of a new home, the loss of my mom and dad, the death of my pets, and a stock market fiasco.
I write best while I'm chewing. I even think it exercises my face. It keeps me awake when I'm driving and gives my mouth something to do when I want to eat. Chewing keeps my mouth moist, takes away bad tastes, and makes me kissable.

I quit chewing gum sweetened with artificial sweeteners years ago; I figured real sugar was better for me than those mind-altering, waist-expanding substitutes. One day I decided to look at the ingredients in the sugary based gum I used. What in the heck was in my mouth? It was not a pretty picture. It was an OMG moment. I had been chewing – are you ready for this? RUBBER! I was chewing tires, or at least pre-tire material. My relationship with gum might be my longest, most secure relationship, but now my relationship was threatened.

I went for days without gum. Memories of bygone times pierced my waking moments. I missed the jaw action and that first chomp into a fresh piece of heaven. I longed for the sensuous feel in my mouth when I rolled my gum from side to side. This would never do; I went on a gum quest. Where do the real gum gods reside? I must find them; I must satisfy the deep soul call of my gum destiny. I needed a new gum mate.

I found some gum, some cool, wonderful gum, but cost made it prohibitive. I mean I would not spend 3 or 4 dollars on a pack of gum, and I found that all natural gum was not equal. But I did find one gum that stood out: Glee Gum. Glee Gum is all natural chewing gum made with sustainably harvested rain forest chicle. It is touted as the #1 healthy alternative to synthetic chewing gum and bubble gum! It contains no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or artificial sweeteners (no aspartame). I recommend the lemon lime sugarless gum. Glee Gum uses Xylitol as a sweetener. Xylitol is found naturally in the fibers of fruits and veggies like corn, raspberries, and plums. It can help benefit dental health, fight cavities, reduce plaque, and even clear nasal passages. It's a safe choice for people on restricted diets. It comes in bulk, is reasonably priced, and their staff is most personable.

So now I chew with Glee. My gum is with me as I sit and peck out a few words. I press it to the front of my mouth and take tiny bits. Bit, bit, bit - it's a game we play. I slide it to the side of my mouth and hunker down in a fleeting moment of gum ecstasy. I have found my gum-mate and it's a terrific relationship. Happy chewing to you, and if you are not a chewer, by now you may think I am loco. Chew well, eat well, and prosper. Da Gum, I'm Having Fun. Yum, Yum. Great gum.
 
Join the Muppets in asking that existential question, "Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost over night?"

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Interconnectedness of Everything

Each week I write a Healthy Living column. I talk about food, toxic substances, mind and the place it holds in healing, or provide healthy recipes. All these things contribute to healthy living. Everything is connected. Our health is not measured just by whether our bodies work or not. Optimum health includes how we deal with others, how we take care of our bodies, our cars, our home, and our finances. Everything we think, say, and do is vibrational. Everything is connected. How do we take care of the earth? Do we contribute to the suffering of others? Do we treat ourselves and others with kindness? No act stands alone.

Everything is sacred, and when we only consider the effect everything has on us, rather than the effect we have on everything, we get sick. We get heart sick. We feel like something's missing, and what's missing is this connection to everything. All is sacred. There is nothing that can stand outside the interrelatedness of everything.

I saw a video that said that crows can remember someone who was mean to them, and when they migrate, they fly out of their way to avoid the place where this human was. The act of buying things we don't need, the act of letting good food go to waste, the act of poisoning insects and other species - all these are acts of blasphemy. And the blasphemy is against ourselves, because we are a part of everything, and when one thing or any system suffers, we suffer. We share the joy and suffering of everything, including microscopic life forms.

Some people want to build a wall on the Mexican border. Those that do, do not understand the wildlife that will be threatened because of this act. If the wall is built, it could mean extinction of the big cats and trouble for thousands of other animals. It will cut their food supply, their ability to migrate, and threaten their habitats. The fact that we can even think about building a wall shows how disconnected and wounded we are.

All disconnection comes from unhealed emotional wounds. Every politician should have to go through intense therapy and take a "Raising Your Self-Esteem" course before s/he takes office. We will continue to annihilate ourselves and our earth family until we dive into the world of self-healing.

While this is more of an Op Ed piece than healthy living; it is relevant. Sunday, April 22nd, was Earth Day. We need a People Day, an Animal Day, a Fish Day, a Fungi Day – we need a Recognition of the Importance and Interconnectedness of All Life Day. We need a Self-Forgiveness Day. We need a Day of Innocence. We Need a Cease Fire Day, where every country in the world sets down their arms for one day. We need a Kindness Day.

Many people feel they have nothing to contribute to the world, but if you look at all the possibilities spawned from the problems above, you might find something that is yours to do. Good God, hold a Flower Day in your neighborhood to show off flowers. Unless we connect, we are going to continue down the path of separation. Get in there and connect. Your health depends on it. And when you do, you will find that everything can be EZier and EZier. #earthday #weareone

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Identifying and Owning Our Dust



There's an old saying in 12 step programs: "You are as sick as your secrets." While keeping a secret about an affair or clandestine meetings is difficult, it is equally as difficult to keep emotional secrets. We try to act big when we feel small or act cool when we are shaking in our boots. Our secrets can be so stealthy that we forget we have them.

I once had an opportunity to meet with a celebrity. There was talk of us doing a TV pilot. Some friends watched a show I produced and thought I should be on TV. The show was to be centered around me, but since I was an unknown, we needed someone with a name for the show. The big meeting was in a restaurant. We met: the real big shot and I. I felt less than, being the nobody I thought I was. We made small talk. I was full of myself, but underneath, I was afraid. Someone who did not take on new talent had offered to be my agent. Of course, I slung that fact around. I came off like a braggart. No, I actually was a braggart. Later, I asked my friend how the star liked me. She replied, "He didn't." She went on to say, "You were boastful. You were bragging. What was going on with you? We want you to stay, but we'll have to find something else for you to do. Maybe you can find the guests to be on the show." She was right. The meeting had been important to me. It could have been my big break, and I acted like a stuck-up jerk. I drug shame about the incidence around for years. Every time I thought back on the event, I could feel may face turning red. I wasn't broken up because I didn't get to be a star; I was embarrassed, to the core, that I had been so full of bravado. I didn't want people to know how low I sank. I wanted everyone to love me, and if they knew, they would think I was a charlatan. "Some spiritual person she is." As a full-time minister, the whole event gnawed on my self-image, which, I admit, was quite overblown.

I kept a deep secret from myself. I was not aware of how afraid I was, and because I swept those feelings under the rug, I blew it. If I had been in touch with my feelings and been vulnerable, the meeting might have gone differently.

I've grown since then. I frequently reveal my weaknesses without identifying with them. Who I am is clean and pure, but my body, my past, my hang-ups, my emotions, and my behavior – not so much. I remember someone saying to me, "You are like me. You put yourself down a lot." I just smiled. It wasn't easy to explain that when I remain vulnerable and don't hide my faults and fears under some pseudo self-confidence, I disarm my ego. I don't talk about my weaknesses to put myself down. I often think my weaknesses are funny or somewhat universal; therefore, understandable. I talk about my foibles to fertilize my compassion, not to denigrate myself.

When I am around people who brag, it is tempting to one-up them. Rivalry is alluring, but whenever I try to show off my knowledge, I feel crummy. It's my ego. It has to show off, but I find it better to stay quiet, even when I'm hooked into a baseless competition. Not that I can always do it.


There is a fine line between putting ourselves down and owning up to our character flaws. I may cross that line at times, but since I am not omniscient 100% of the time, it's okay to flail. I can be wise and still not be in touch with my entire psychological portfolio. We demand too much from ourselves. Our human part is but one piece of the large tapestry of being. In this tapestry there are large swaths of sky and specks of dust. We are the sky and the dust. When we are in our dust moments, we can't pretend we are the sky, but when we are in our sky moments, we can fly. And when we do, life can be EZier and EZier.

Anne