February 19, 2021

The “Survival Mind”—& How to Handle our Ego with Grace.


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How do we handle our ego with grace?

Oh, the wildness, wonder, turbulence, joy, and challenge of human life. 

Why does it feel so hard to handle with ease and grace?

Well, it’s partly because our magical and heroic human existence is a unique blend of soul, energy, and matter—scientifically unquantifiable in its divinity.

Understanding and accepting this great complexity—that we are a spiritual being having a human experience, not a human being having a spiritual experience—is the journey of life. And it is one we can gradually master…if we so choose.

What do I mean when I say, “We get to choose?”

Our liberation, our evolution, and our inner freedom are always self-initiated and self-directed. In every moment of our existence, we always have a choice. We always get to choose how we perceive life and ourselves.

We are sovereign beings born with that divine power and right. Many of us have just forgotten. It took me a long time to realise and accept this as truth.

The mindset encouraged by our modern world and teachings—our family, society, and culture—does not always encourage self-mastery and self-accountability.

It is more often centered around fear, judgment, blame, and scarcity, galvanising disconnection and distrust of the world (and our inner world) through the signals of our own body.

So often, our mindset and “story” is a lifelong collection of memories, experiences, sensations, beliefs, and impressions telling us:

>> Where we came from.

>> Who we are.

>> What we’ve been.

>> What we know or don’t know.

>> What we’re good and bad at.

>> How much we have or don’t have. 

But this is our ego—the created image that gives us a sense of identity. Our ego takes shape from all the things we tell ourselves, the things other people say about us, and what the world reflects back at us—what we accept as truth.

The ancient Greeks used the word “ego” to describe a small separate self. It is a perfect summation of our “survival mind” that lives purely from past experiences and holds onto a great fear of being separated from its identity constructed of our name, personality, and story or history.

This fear allows the ego to believe that it constantly needs to be the leading voice and controlling presence in our reality—to keep us “safe” and alive in the tribe.

Listen, the ego is not responsible for thriving, surrendering, trusting pure potential, possibility, or reality creation.

Our ego loves safety; it is attempting to control outcomes.

It is a reaction to our previously learned behaviours and actions—especially unconscious childhood ones.

The survival ego is all about boundaries and safe, predictive behaviour patterns.

It wants to “protect” us from putting ourselves out there, from being authentically expressed, from trying and learning new things, from being a new person, and from creating our reality as the truth of who we are.

It does this because it fears the unknown. If (at any time in our lives) the ego learned that expressions of our true self led to feelings of pain, shame, fear, or separation, it projects other—more controlled—parts of ourselves.

Although we all struggle with the illusion of control, we truly can’t know the outcome of anything. The very fabric and construct of our human lives and planetary events are actually forever uncertain.

Think about it:

What do we actually know to be totally certain?

We are taught to fight uncertainty and constantly seek to influence others and our surroundings, yet this struggle creates and maintains anxiety.

Our ego is constantly planning for multitudes of potential outcomes. It is searching for anything that gives the perception of a reduced threat and uncertainty, even if it results in overriding our heart and soul’s callings and ignoring the biofeedback sensations in our bodies. 

This is what creates the ongoing separateness between the parts of our whole.

I often check in with myself and notice where I am clinging to needing to know what will happen next or worrying about future events (those things that most likely never even come to fruition).

I remind myself that my realm of influence is not just finite; it is actually quite crazily small. All I can truly control in life is my response to it.

When I need to control people, places, situations, things, and emotions, I forgo my flexibility, spontaneity, innovation, and creativity and place a much-lower-than-necessary ceiling on my capacity for engaging in, creating, and enjoying life.

How do we not allow our past—our unconscious, ego “protector”—to overlay and superimpose perceived control on our present awareness while still appreciating it for helping us become more aware of what limiting belief is sitting deep inside us?

This takes a lot of conscious awareness—a lot of practice.

And a lot of acknowledgement and somatic integration with the underlying traumas dictating our response to life.

This timeless question helps me enormously: “How present can I be in the present moment?” 

When a trigger arises, and we feel that familiar flush of emotions (or body biofeedback signalling) that may present as heat, or heart palpitations, or clenched teeth, ask:

What is here to be examined and witnessed within me, through the lens of compassion? 

What are the expectations and attachments that can be released?

What memories are surfacing that require to be fully honoured and noticed in the present moment, not in the past? 

The sensations arising from our resistant ego-mind are actually the most powerful roadmap. They signal where we need to head to heal our disconnection from the soul and remember more of our innate wholeness.

Running toward somatic sensations when we feel safe enough to do so, instead of constantly turning away, gives us power. When we choose to “feel it to heal it,” we are led toward authenticity, courageous vulnerability, and leadership.

Honouring each feeling and sensation can be a challenge, but if we choose not to bypass the feeling in our body—not allow our ego-mind to create an attachment to a story holding fear, blame, shame, judgement—we can follow it, track the emotion physically in our body, until it is fully experienced and can change, shift, and integrate.

Sit in the discomfort.

Ask, “What is it that I need to know? Please, show me.” 

Listen to the answers that arise.

When we first draw near to that great void—that moment before we see a glimpse of our full soul essence, our whole self—we may experience unbearable anxiety, discomfort, and fear. (It seems too risky to the ego!) 

Self-awareness is a journey through a hall of mirrors.

It takes an enormous amount of courage and vulnerability to choose to heal—to sit with our ego and perceived imperfections. To own and surrender to the painfully uncomfortable experience—to meet and accept ourselves.

Curious, consistent, and compassionate self-inquiry leaves no place for the false sense of self to hide, take root, or grow. When exposed to the divine, loving light of our conscious awareness, the ego-separated “I” dissolves into wholeness: You. The ego is no longer required to be in control.

The power of a sovereign life comes when we say: 

“Yes! I choose all of me. I choose to leave no parts of me unheard, unacknowledged, unexpressed, or unappreciated.

I am bringing all of who I am and how I feel into my body.

I am a beautiful, dynamic, ever-unfolding love story.

I dance with my ego and my heart.”

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