Big Ego

The other day, a big sign popped up on my inner mental screen: Ego Alert. When I saw this signal, I knew to stop. I relaxed, became thoughtful and asked myself, Am I able to release my ego from this situation?” Ninety-nine percent of the time, the answer I’ve heard in my mind was, Yes. However, knowing exactly how to extricate myself from entangled emotional strife could be hard.

Just before the Ego Alert sign appeared, I’d become upset because I’d been excluded from holiday festivities with a group of beloved friends. I felt heart broken. These rather extreme emotions made me suspect that I’d reacted with one-sided grandiosity. My emotions ran so high, I sent a prayer, asking for divine guidance in releasing me from the nasty feelings of rejection. 

In the past, I’d learned that, if I could detach from self-centeredness, I would gain clarity and stability. Within a day of my prayer, I read wise words and heard insights from Al Anon meetings I attended (a twelve-step program for the friends and families of alcoholics) and from a counselor. Recording all this in my journal, I took the input seriously.

I realized that reasons other than personal rejection may have caused this social group to neglect sending me a holiday invite. Several members had suffered illness and other disruptions in the last year. I lived far away from them and they might have assumed I wouldn’t be likely to travel. When I became honest, I knew that I’d distanced myself from some of the people because their past inebriation had put me off. My closeness with them had lessened over the years.

I reflected about and question myself: What did I really want for the holidays? A resounding internal answer arose, Peace and quiet with time to meditate. At my core, I truly didn’t desire a hectic, loud get-together. In the face of this truth, my unrealistic assumptions deflated and I no longer experienced the drama of a broken heart. What a relief.

I’m happy that, over the years, inspiring teachers taught me to spot my errant self-indulgent emotions when they overstepped sane boundaries. Almost always, when I felt aggrieved, I’ve learned to ask myself, Am I able to release my ego from this situation? I usually gained helpful knowledge from this process, as I unwound from emotional turmoil. I felt deeper connection with my interior self and gained priceless peace. I’m grateful I lived long enough to learn this healing process and that, most days, I remembered to use it.

Cate Burns is the author of Libido Tsunami: Awash with the Droll in Life, in which she unearths the ludicrous in the emotional live traps surrounding us — in families, friends and disastrous romances. Get it on Amazon today.