Diffidence & Death of the Ego

Being a woman is a pendulum between loving and despising self. We are taught to do both. Over the course of my life I can think of times I’ve felt beautiful, felt smart, felt worthy, felt wonderful. Other times I’ve used my self-perception as a means to punish myself for existing.

When things are good I try to remember what’s working: reading, writing, exercising, drinking tea, being with friends… so that when the inevitable low times emerge I can apply these things more generously. Lately, I’ve been stuck in a pattern of Diffidence. I avoid mirrors and stop writing. Not being in the mood for mascara is one thing but avoiding my own voice is a symptom of a spiritual lacking for me and I begin to question the value of my own words.

If I step into the role of an observer of my experiences, it wouldn’t be hard to chock it up to a symptom of this year of 2020. I know this pendulum will eventually swing another way. And in true 2020 fashion my usual list of fixes just don’t do it for me any more.

The most important thing to understand is that patterns of self-hate originate in the Ego, the conscious mediator between self-perception and reality. All in all. I am fine. I am safe. I am loved. I am well. It’s only the perception offered by my Ego that suggests that I have become something unworthy of the love that I am offered and my tendency to deny myself that. Here, my Ego becomes unhealthy and harmful. Most people are familiar with Egos being harmful when someone is conceited of self-absorbed. This double edged sword is not always glorious. We spend quite a lot of time subconsciously building our Ego, in either direction, and sometimes it needs to be torn down, leaving us bare and exposed, but also free to grow and rebuild in a new way

Today I read the following passage about Ego Death that absolutely stunned me:

Ego death feels very painful – disarming and uncomfortable. A lot of external change vernally accompanies an ego death. Our nervous system, our mind, our identities do not want to engage with it. Often, we ignore it, and keep carrying on in the same old ways. Some folks do this for years, Some folks do this for generations.

Underneath the stirrings of our impulse to dissolve the harmful aspects of our ego is truth. Underneath, is an unlimited way to be: freedom. This freedom grants us more intimacy with ourselves, a wider perspective, and virtually no attachment to that which does not serve us. This is very terrifying to so many, so they shame, or punish the ones trying to get freer. This makes it harder to do this work: to choose peace and expansion and not knowing over the opposite of all of these. So often, it takes another type of pain, pain from the outside, to shake us into action, to get us into therapy, to get us moving into a more fueling way of living.

Many Moons, 2020, Sarah Gottesdiener

I love the idea that my perceived failures are simply points of transformation. What I interpret as negative, might just be change. It’s thrilling to think that maybe those parts of me that I dislike simply don’t serve me and can die off, leaving fertile ground for tomorrow. When I am no longer fulfilled by the same things maybe it because I am not the same being. I like the idea that on the other side of being willing to release expectations and fear is a freedom to better understand myself. I like the idea of letting things fall away where they may, whether those are people or personal patterns. I’m willing to let a lot go.

But while it’s thrilling to think that the parts of me I dislike will die off and leave fertile ground for tomorrow, setting up great expectations for hope and enlightenment is also the Ego at play. We leave room for falling short, we miss the boat of simplicity while wait for something grand. We become boxed in by the romanticized notions of rebirth, the same reason why I can’t stand the New Year, New Me trend we’ll see in a couple of months.

I think it would be more my desire to live simply and accepting of myself than to come out with some big butterfly moment. But, I know living simply and being accepting takes work, and if this is an opportunity to rebuild and live better, that is work I am willing to take on.

So, R.I.P. Ego.

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