Monday, January 20, 2014

Jumping on the Boards – Why We Succumb to the Lure of Self-Sabotage

8 of Swords, self-restriction, self-limitation.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the ego.
RWCS, US Games version

At one time or another we’ve all snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.  We know not to go down to the basement of deserted old house all alone, or wander in an abandoned mine.  Then, there are days where, for whatever reason, we invite chaos into our lives either through random actions or by our mental outlook.  Usually we extend the invitation when things are running smoothly.  Here’s an interesting looking loose end, we think. I wonder what will happen if I pull this thread? Suddenly, by our own design, our whole picture starts to unravel.

What turns us into major league thread pullers who suddenly let anxiety freeze us into indecision? Three little letters, my friends –  E, G, and O.  Our ego stems from our mind, our ability to rationalize, to remember and to over-analyze.  Our ego is designed to be our first line of defense in a hostile environment.  It tells us whether or not we are safe and if we are operating within the boundaries of our personal normal.  What happens when we suddenly change our behaviors to accommodate new goals and ambitions?  Our ego, who defines our sense of self, goes into hyper-drive thinking up new ways to get us back to our habitual program – even a program that has proven detrimental to us in the past.  

We don’t fall victim to self-sabotage out of stupidity.  We fall
9 of Swords, RWCS by US Games
Anxiety, guilt, obsessive thoughts.
An ego in full control
for it because the ego knows that it works. The ego is thorough, relentless and infinitely patient in its mission. It is no friend to out-of-the-box thinking.  It will lie to us and play on our fears (Nine of Swords) to keep us operating in the familiar.  How do we halt the progression of an ego gone wild? One of the first things to do is to identify self-sabotaging thoughts or behaviors for what they are and to do so without judgement.  Judging yourself and others feeds your ego.  The bigger the judgement, the more power you’ve surrendered to your ego self.  

"OSHO's Zen Tarot"© by Deva Padma
shows the value of quieting the mind and
engaging inner stillness when the mind's
illusions seize control.
Two traits of self-actualized people are acceptance of their human frailties and acceptance of the frailties of others, as well.  Stop listening to your ego’s judgment when you think of your life choices.  Listen with your heart and come from a place of compassion instead of the place of self.  Does this mean you surrender your own best interests and stay in situations that cause you emotional, or even physical pain? Just the opposite. People don’t stay in bad relationships because they are placing other’s needs first. They stay because their ego is being fed in some way.  I am noble – look how I suffer.  I do this for my family even though I am unhappy.  Really?  No.  You do it because your ego likes a steady banquet of martyrdom.

9 of Wands, RWCS US Games
Battered, beleaguered, but determine
to persevere.  Battling yourself can
be exhausting, but so worth it!
Tarot’s Eight of Swords shows us a woman kept prisoner by her own ego.  (Swords being the suit of mental outlook, thoughts and communications.)  She stands loosely bound, blindfolded and semi-encircled by eight swords.  No one holds her there accept her own state of mind.  She can slip the bonds and walk away, but for whatever reason she choses her self-imposed prison rather than risk to her safety for the adventure and freedom outside the circle of swords.

One of my greatest teachers, Linda Becker, (author of “Living With Soul – The Great Spiritual Revolution”) taught me to give my ego a name and to envision locking it away in a box when it demanded I feed it with self-defeating thoughts or behaviors.  It's a simple method, but one that works – even when I have to pull my ego off me just like Spiderman pulling off that black, Venom costume.  Out of control egos are sticky things. Chakra meditations that are designed to open the heart also work wonders for controlling the ego.  

No one is immune to their ego running amok. As with everything in life – it’s not a question of whether or not you make a mistake, but of how well you recover from the mistakes you do make.



No comments:

Post a Comment