I’m not sure if any of you have ever experienced the panic of striking a blank when you are supposed to know the answer to something. Yes, I know you have. Whether you were sitting in an exam staring blankly at the test paper, or even when you were expected to introduce someone who you completely forgot the name of. You know the feeling. It’s like a wave of tingly embarrassment, followed by a loss of oxygen that frankly can have you gasping what you believe to be your last breath.
Well folks, that sometimes happens to me. The only way I try to avoid that personal torture is to prepare so that I can at least look like I have the answers. Writing my columns for example might look as if I have everything under complete control. Well, to be honest, as the cliché goes, it’s like a duck in water. All calm on the surface, but a lot of frantic paddling underwater. I remember one time when I managed to dodge the blank stare bullet, because a good friend and colleague of mine sent me a little summary of something I have believed for a long time, but never paid enough attention to.
The piece he sent me was by Richard Barrett and it simply concludes that personal change is mostly about an ongoing tension between the needs of the soul and the needs of the ego. Specifically how we try to balance and blend these needs so that one does not necessarily overwhelm the other. It’s very similar to the stuff that Eckhart Tolle writes about in “A New Earth.”
I guess you have to really desire change for any of this to make sense to you. Let’s assume though that we are all developing, learning and transforming throughout our lives. I think if you attempted to halt your own development, you would quite literally die inside. So let’s rather go back to transformation. Barrett argues that the ego is driven by fear based beliefs. How many times have you heard of people agonizing over the fear of failure? when the ego begins to take over and the soul is weakened, more frequent emotional outbursts, anger and rage occurs. Let’s face it life is a little too short to remain in a constant state of emotional turmoil. So I guess if you find yourself in a space where you are more ego driven, and where fear seems to be at the core of your behaviour, you may just want to consider changing.
Well, I suppose again that’s if you really feel the need. What I liked about the piece from Barrett though was mostly in his argument that change is not an event. Too often we think we can change people, or that people change overnight. At best, an event can trigger off the process of change, but I seriously doubt the concept of a complete and comprehensive transformation from one attitude to another, or from one outlook to another. Caterpillars cocoon before they become butterflies. Without that vital process, they would die. People also need the time and space to consider and reflect on their transformation.
Am I suggesting we should all reflect on whether our egos are controlling our souls? Yes absolutely, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. In our very profit driven capitalist society we have so many people consumed by the ego feeders of the modern world. Status, job titles, perks and rewards, free hand-outs. All the material things that we feel compelled to acquire. The only truth about this is that it’s all superficial. True responsible capitalism is when you are driven by something more enlightened than making the most money, or gaining the most control, or having the largest share of the market. True responsible capitalism is when you are not driven by ego, but more by the authentic nature of your soul. A less aggressive and forceful temperament. As Barrett says, this is not an event, it’s a process. It requires courage, and a willingness to work through lots of unresolved pain. Are you ready to change?
INDICATORS THAT YOUR EGO CONTROLS YOUR SOUL
- If you find yourself unsatisfied all the time with what you’ve achieved.
- When enough money is never enough money.
- When cars, houses and material goods seem more important than people.
- If you find yourself getting angry and frustrated at the little things at work.
- If it is easy for you to drop friendships and relationships over personal gain.
- If you need to force your will on others.
- If you feel you always need to be right and have all the answers.