Who am I? Who are you?
I think I have a clear idea but, do I really know it? Do you? Am I who I think I am or just someone who looks like me?
These questions seem to go into a non return spiral of transcendental doubts but actually they are simply a call for awareness.
I am the colour of my hair & eyes, my hips’ shape, the slight curvature of my spine, my name, mi ID, the family that gives me roots, the partner that walks along with me, the friends I’ve chosen, the music that makes me quiver, the books & the films that move me, the sound of my laugh, the work I do, the things that keep me going, the ones that I reject, those that I look forward to and even the ones that I am not aware of yet. I am all that and even more because I am made of others’ bits & pieces and all these found a place within my mold. But also, between all these that make me who I am there is also a part of me which is only a part, even when it feels much more than that sometimes. Let me introduce you to my ego.
Its definition & etymology, Freud’s or Jung’s approaches to the concept and the points of view of religions & philosophical or spiritual schools of thought are all available on the internet, in every library. But, what is ego for me? What’s my ego? When & how shows up? Is it pushing me forward or dragging me down? Am I in charge or do I let it guide me? This might not answer to Freud’s or Jung’s perspectives but it is my very own & personal view, the one I’ve came to through my experience and so far it serves me well because it brings in meaning to me.
So ego is that part of me that yells at me “please, stop yourself!” when I feel like crying in public, and it is also the voice that whispers “that friend of yours is hopeless and if he keeps being like that he will always be”. My ego is like that tedious neighbour who always seem to be lying in wait behind the door, expectant to find a slip or mishap to point it out at me.
- Who left that box in the hall and when are they going to collect it? It really annoys me to see it there and it has been more than a week already!
- That poor animal does not stop barking because is feeling lonely and neglected, and oon top of that it is making me feel much stressed.
- Some people do not know what responsibility is and they show no consideration at all to others.
- I cannot believe it! What a filthy guy! Leaving rubbish on the beach! Somebody should tell him something!
- Look at this one! Putting other people’s lives in danger because of his rash way of driving!
- This constant rain makes me feel so sad… I cannot concentrate feeling like this. It is so cold! I really don’t feel like leaving home today. What a crap day!
- I am not good at that. Completely hopeless actually! Unable.
- There he is again with his unfortunate comments & tasteless jokes! I cannot stand him!
- His problem is that he is always looking to be the centre and he does not realise that he is a pain for everyone else.
- Who is going to read all this crap of mine! It makes me feel ashamed! I am truly a waste of time!
- This client is very weird. It is impossible to understand him.
- I have to do this on my own. I cannot be bothering others with my issues. Nobody can help me really.
- He is wasting his time & also mine because he is not really committed. He doesn’t even know what he wants!
- This one is leaving because he is not brave enough to face the truth.
- This other one doesn’t continue because I haven’t done well enough. I’ve failed big time.
- I am always holding these doubts & fears… What if I am not good enough for this? What if I am lying to myself and wasting my time?...
There you have a few of ‘my gems’, even when I am taking the risk of showing a not very nice image of myself. Because, how much love & respect to myself and to others am I showing through those gems above?
All those thoughts are real because they exist or existed at some point. They are all mine. They were born in my mind and I offered them a room to stay. However, those thoughts are not me but only a part of me. I am much more than that.
What happens when I strive to stay in those thoughts? It hurts, I suffer, I poison myself and I get angry with the world and also with me for being so mean and unkind, especially when that is right the opposite of what I want to achieve in my life. If I wish to be happy by loving & respecting, why do I give space to these destructive ideas that run me on the other direction? What’s the point on doing that?
Behind those thoughts is my ‘little me’, my ego. It is that part of me which is mainly mental, rational. It always wants more prominence than what it really deserves. It works hard to find an explanation to everything, a logical reason that can answer to my perfectly organised script, one that any reasonable person (according to my own perception, of course) would be able to understand. And this is actually the positive intention of my ego: to understand, to follow a standard procedure, to be normal, to fit, to meet expectations. It does not realise that ,while it is busy doing all that, tangled in its inner talk full of questions & answers, Life goes on out there. And it is so beautiful!
True happiness comes from freeing ourselves of those thoughts, from letting go the mental creations. We just have to BE, paying attention to that other inner voice. Mine makes me cry in public when something truly moves me; it makes me feel insecure sometimes because I fear; it drives me to look at others with kindness & understanding; it guides me to accept what I don’t like with deep compassion & respect.
If my ‘little me’ speaks through my mind and its reasoning, my 'essential me’ does it by sensations & emotions that I can feel within my body. A shiver, a smile, a tear, a blushed cheek, a pinch in my stomach, a pressure on my chest, a rough throat, an intuition that keeps repeating constantly… Where do they come from and what do they try to tell me? Because again, they exist, they are real, I can feel them! It is my essential me talking. Do I listen? Do I understand what it means? The more attention I pay to it, the closer I will get to the place where I want to be and to the person I came here to become into.
I know that life is not only about pleasure & well-being. Life is pain & worrying quite often too. And, if that’s the case, my job is to go through it as it comes, learning from it and then letting it go to keep moving forward. If I deny it, if I refuse to see it, if I hide it or alter it, if I give it other names and I dress it with high-sounding labels, then I’ll be back under the power of my little me, and I will be surrendering to it forever. With time & repetitions all this will end up in unease, illness, unhappiness.
Thoughts are only thoughts. Ideas. Mental processes. My thoughts are not my reality. I have an image of myself that can differ, and actually it does, from the image that my family, friends, partner, clients or neighbours have of me. We all start from the same reality but our images are different, with points in common maybe, but different in general. However, I am all of those.
Drifting apart from those thoughts that cause us pain or suffering is a very healthy & necessary exercise that we can actually practice in many occasions, as our mind is living us loads of chances every day to put it into action.
Through her own experience and her personal descent to her soul’s dungeons, Byron Katie gave birth to this self-inquiry & healing method that she calls ‘The Work’. It consists of four questions to be answered in this order:
1- Is this thought true?
2- Can I absolutely know that it is true?
3- How do I react when I believe that thought? How do I feel?
4) Who would I be without that thought?
Then, a final turnaround, which allows me to experience the opposite of what I believed at first. For instance, if my thought was “this client is so weird. It is impossible to understand him”, the turnaround could be “I am very weird. It is impossible to understand me”; or “this client seems weird to me and I cannot understand him”; or “this client thinks that I am very weird and he does not understand me”; or even “this client feels weird and feels that I don’t understand him”. The key is to question the initial thought in order to generate options that are more ecological and more kind to me (and to my client in this case). It is about creating possibilities that are more respectful with my being and that make me feel good. By doing that, I can get closer to the happiness I want to achieve and that I want to experience every day on the way.
Would you give it a try? Go on! Let it be. To be is already happiness.
"I am not I.
I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit,
and whom at other times I forget;
the one who remains silent while I talk,
the one who forgives, sweet, when I hate,
the one who takes a walk when I am indoors,
the one who will remain standing when I die."
Poem extracted from Eternities, by Juan Ramón Jiménez