December 31, 2011

How to Stop Cuddling With Your Ego.


“You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk






 Well, you are beautiful and unique, but…

Ever have one of those days where things keep knocking you down, and you end up feeling a little squashed and unimportant. And then you decide the best course of action is to greet all of your friends with choruses of “Validate me! Validate me! Tell me you love me! Tell me I’m wonderful!”

I had that day recently. My little fluffy ego bunny was feeling small and in need of cuddling. We all get that way sometimes.

But it’s a quick trip from an ego that’s like this:

(Photo: Captain Subtle)

To one that looks like this:

(Photo: teletoon)

And which ever state it’s in do you really want some silly rabbit running the show? Sometimes when I look in my ego mirror, I see:

“F*ck yeah, you’re awesome! You are talented and gorgeous and you smell nice and everyone loves you and if they don’t than they can go suck it. Morons!”

And other times it’s more like:

“You suck. You are an opinionated, no-talent hack who will never amount to anything. Your hair is a mess, your life is a mess, and no one likes you so shut up already!”

The thing is, neither one is true. Neither one is healthy. Neither one matters if I really want a mindful life.

So how to stop seeking fluffy bunny ego cuddles all the time?

1. Go outside. Go for a run. In the rain. In December. Get to the highest point you can and look around in amazement of how vast it all is and what a tiny speck you are. Or even look at the stars. Or the ocean. Anything in nature that reminds you how wonderful the world is and that while you are a part of its magnificence–you are a miniscule part.

2. Shut up. For real. When you listen to other people, shut off the part of you that is waiting for your turn to talk, to explain how it makes you feel or why it relates to you. Give that part a rest and listen to someone else for awhile. You might learn something.

3. Stop seeking ego food. You know, fishing for compliments, seeking validation, looking for approval. And instead…

4. Breathe. Doesn’t have to be fancy, or on a cushion, official mediation time (though that’s a great ego leveller too.) When you feel the sad ego bunny syndrome coming on, instead of trying to find someone to stroke it, stop. Take a few deep breaths. Shake it off. Do something that actually nourishes your soul instead of just revving up your ego. One great way to do this would be…

5. Remember how to be happy. “If you want be happy think first of others, if you want to be unhappy think only of yourself.” It’s true. I love telling other people how much I appreciate them, how they amaze me. Not to feed their egos, not so they’ll reciprocate, but because it’s true. The more time I spend focused on how I can be of benefit to others, the less that stupid bunny begs to be cuddled.

My ego is in check enough at the moment that I can fully admit, Pema Chödrön sums it up much better than I have:

“Ego is like a room of your own, a room with a view with the temperature and the smells and the music that you like. You want it your own way. You’d just like to have a little peace, you’d like to have a little happiness, you know, just gimme a break. But the more you think that way, the more you try to get life to come out so that it will always suit you, the more your fear of other people and what’s outside your room grows. Rather than becoming more relaxed, you start pulling down the shades and locking the door. When you do go out, you find the experience more and more unsettling and disagreeable. You become touchier, more fearful, more irritable than ever. The more you try to get it your way, the less you feel at home.”

Unlock that door. Stop sitting in there snuggling with your ego or asking others to stroke it for you. Come on out where it’s cold,  wild, wet and unpredictable and you might get a little bruised sometimes. It’s worth it.

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