The primary cause of much, most, or all of our unhappiness is our demanding ego aspect. Once you understand what this means, you can do something about it, starting today.
Unhappiness may be as simple as this: If we’re angry, upset, discontent, bored, or frustrated, we’re allowing ego to run the show. Contradictions upset the ego aspect. What do I mean by contradictions? Ego wants life to be easy, but that isn’t always the case. Ego resists change it didn’t first approve of, but shift happens. Ego wants money to be easy and abundant, but it isn’t always like that. Ego wants perfect health and vitality, but that may not be the way it is. Ego wants fair weather so it can be comfortable, but it rains or snows or is hot and humid. Ego wants no problems, but challenges happen. It wants people to behave a certain way, but they don’t.
“The angry person is acutely sensitive to all they are owed by the world, and blind to all they have received,” said Jules Evans. This is what happens to the ego: It focuses on its demands and ignores, discounts, or forgets the blessings and gifts that have been received (in the moments when you’re appreciating blessings and gifts, you’re not doing ego). Ego leads to self-absorption (it’s all about me), which leads to regrets. I’ve got a few of those and still contend with this from time to time, but I’m getting better as I pay closer attention to this. Just know that the moment ego feels uncomfortable or insecure, it screams for what it wants, which means it’s likely screaming in our heads every or nearly every waking moment, unless we do something about this. I offer a few suggestions for your consideration further on.
Any contradiction to what ego wants will trigger negative emotions because the ego’s opinion is that nothing and no one should contradict what it wants. I know—unrealistic, isn’t it? And annoying. And we all experience this. What does this ultimately mean? It means that nearly all, if not all, of our emotional pain is self-inflicted. Ugh.
One thing that helps is to develop flexibility—become flexible about contradictions. I’ll give you an example from my life. This past weekend (Nov. 2013), my friend and I planned to do what we’ve been doing for several Saturdays: Visit my mother in the nursing home then have a leisurely lunch at one of our favorite places. Instead, we arrived to find my mother needed to go to the emergency room, her second trip to the E.R. in ten days. The ambulance took my mother to the hospital and we met her there. Fortunately, they easily found what the issue was and that it was simple to take care of, but we were there far longer than anticipated.
By 4:30, they said she could go home but the nursing home van couldn’t come for her; there were no available drivers—a first for all the E.R. and hospital stays we’ve had in less than a year. So they called the ambulance service to do the transport. We learned that even if an ambulance is almost to the hospital door, if they get an emergency call, that call becomes a priority (this happened twice as we waited). We waited from 4:30 until 8:30 that evening for a ride. My mother wasn’t happy. She was understandably exhausted; we all were. She was sorry she’d altered our plans for the day. I told her we have to be flexible in life or we’ll end up with two situations: the actual one and the one caused by our attitude about the situation.
There is a solution that can help you shift from being negatively affected by the often demanding, often inflexible ego aspect: Make your life a spiritual quest. In a spiritual quest, you practice flexibility on all levels; you practice passionate detachment so emotions stimulated by ego don’t run amok and steal your serenity, joy, and inner balance. You do this as often as you can re-mind yourself to do so. And you practice the two most important prayers you can ever say: 1) “Thank you;” and 2) “Please assist me to expand Perception.”
Heartfelt appreciation opens and expands your energy and inner power, and attracts resources you need and blessings you didn’t expect. Expanded Perception liberates you and raises your energy organically because you begin to struggle less and less with contradictions. Struggle is a result of ego running the show and running you ragged trying to appease it. The less you struggle with contradictions, the more the contradictions ease up in your life (you definitely ease up about them). And if they don’t ease up in quite the way you’d like, instead of resisting them, you consider them as part of your spiritual quest and look for why this might be. When contradictions happen, you’ll look for or feel for the most appropriate way to move yourself through them and beyond them, as well as what is and is not appropriate action for you to engage.
What if what happens in our lives, the contradictions large and small, are actually part of the quest we’re currently on, and not as random as they seem? What if they happen in order to nudge us to choose a spiritual quest instead of what we usually choose? The trick is that you have to want to shift this. You have to have a clear intention and commitment about turning your life into a spiritual quest rather than an ego-dominated tantrum or treasure hunt. The Universe awaits a clear sign from you that you’re serious about this. Once it gets that sign, you’ll begin to see it show up for you more and more, and in surprising ways. The Universe will not respond to your requests and needs until you get quiet and calm and trusting. Until then, you’re like a prickly cactus, and not even your Universal Helpers will approach you.
Pay attention to how society and media mislead you (your ego aspect) about what you should expect from life or what you have to have in order to feel about yourself and your life the way THEY say you should. You may have been convinced that fitting into the box they’ve said you must want to fit into or assigned you to fit into is the right way to go, but does it support your spiritual quest? If it doesn’t, agree to not fit. Stop some or most, or all, of the struggle the ego leads you into in order to fit into a mold designed for you by someone else. Forget the molds. The Universe doesn’t and never will have a mold with your name on it.
Create an expansive inner experience and you’ll find your outer experiences will start to catch up, but only in ways that are for your highest good and support your spiritual quest. For example: If a million dollars or more will actually support this, it’ll show up. If a million dollars or more will only cause your ego to get quiet for about five seconds before it starts yowling again, that’s not supportive of your quest. This goes for anything and everything your ego says it has to have. Or, you may get what your ego wants and still be miserable and ever-fearful of losing it. Forget what you’ve been told you must have or do. Forget what others have or are doing. Follow YOUR quest. Have your own adventure.
Happiness can be yours whenever you release ego’s demands on you that are based in fear and insecurity. Happiness can be yours when you become more flexible about inevitable contradictions. Happiness can be yours when you let go of resistance and embrace flow, which often requires you to be spontaneous and to trust the “How”—how what you desire will happen: You’ll know when you know. Happiness can be yours when you are able to stop using the labels “good” and “bad” about people and situations, as ego would have you do and say “It just is” and go from there, as your quest self would have you do. Happiness comes when you can really see what you’ve been doing and how you’ve been acting, when you can see how different this is from what you desire for yourself on your spiritual quest—and love yourself in spite of this, while you work on your energy and Perception. All of this can be an exit visa from the Assoholics Club that ego tends to create for members, a club we all visit or linger in at one time or another.
Another thing you can do to help you stop listening to the demands of ego to the same degree is to reserve using your logic for specific times, and tune into your feelings (not your emotions—that’s different), meaning your intuition, inner knowing, gut, head-and-heart alignment—whatever label works for you. Logic is ego’s playground more often than not. It’s what makes you turn cartwheels in place in life trying to make or force something to happen (to satisfy the ego) rather than sitting quietly for a while, asking for what you want, then waiting for the right answer or resource to connect with you, however it connects with you, whether that’s an insight, an overheard comment, a billboard, or any other creative means the Universe uses to reach or assist you.
Ego wants you to believe you’re an intellect in a body, but the quest will lead you to realize that you are Feeling expressing in physicality. No matter what you think, say, or do, it’s always, always about the feeling you have or desire to have. But please keep this in mind: ask for expanded Perception. Expanded Perception will get you through situations as you move forward on your spiritual quest. It’s the limited perception of ego that causes so much trouble in our lives and causes us to feel negative emotions so often.
Also know that the quest is not necessarily convenient; in fact, it often isn’t. This is why many start on their spiritual quest and either ditch it after a while or have lots of starts and stops. The quest asks you to deal with contradictions differently than you have, which pisses off the ego in a big way. It might even try to tell you that you (it) were happier before all this quest stuff. You weren’t, of course, or you never would have considered the quest to begin with, or you wouldn’t have read this far. Plus, if your ego tells you to feel special or holy for taking on the quest, you’ll go round and round the same ego mountain over and over.
Ego ants the quest to be easy. It can be, but at the inner level, once you start expanding your Perception and become more Flexible, and remember to say Thank You to the Universe for the gift of all your experiences. Yes, even the ones that make you uncomfortable. Everything and everyone can teach you something about yourself, and for the most part, you don’t have to pay for this “education”.
Your quest helps you build your spiritual muscles. If you continue to operate predominantly or solely from ego, your spiritual muscles continue to shrink, until life and you become lifeless and filled with irritations, and you feel there’s no way out but death, which ego usually isn’t so keen on either. But the more you trundle, flow, or stumble down the path of your quest, the more control you gain of your inner self. The more control you gain of your inner self, the less ego and others can control you. Paraphrasing one concentration camp prisoner’s comment: They can take everything from you but your attitude. Your attitude is part of your inner power. Your quest is your commitment to your inner power and self-governance, and reconnects or strengthens your connection to the Infinite you’re a part of. It’s the difference between happiness being a result of what happens to and for you that your ego likes or being able to choose happiness no matter what and whenever YOU choose it.
As you can see, a true spiritual quest requires dedication from you to evolve beyond the control of the demanding ego. So, even when life or a situation is challenging, choose to look for the sign that says “Spiritual Quest This Way” and head toward it. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer
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Joyce Shafer is a Life Empowerment Coach dedicated to helping people feel, be, and live their true inner power. She’s author of “I Don’t Want to be Your Guru, But I Have Something to Say” and other books/ebooks, and publishes a free weekly online newsletter that offers empowering articles and free downloads. See all that’s offered by Joyce and on her site at http://stateofappreciation.weebly.com