Who or what runs your life? Your boss, your love partner, your kids? No. The need for money or sex or recognition? No. You know better by now, if you're still reading this blog, and if you've done any amount of genuine self-work, that your life isn't run by any other person, or by some irresistible force out of your control. You know that "you" run your life.
But exactly what part of you is it that's calling the shots, and how can you tell? Is it your heart and soul directing you, or is your ego and its self-will in charge? Everyone has experienced coming from these different places at different times, and they are indeed very different.
When you're doing something you love doing, something that inspires you, something from the heart, when you're in the "zone," in other words, time and self-consciousness disappear. You forget to eat, forget any pains in your body or limitations in your mind; you don't judge yourself, how you look, how you're performing. You're just being and soaring, almost without really noticing it. When you're done, when you've accomplished what you came to accomplished, you're at peace, ready to rest and linger with a subtle feeling of satisfaction. You're humble, satisfied and happy.
On the other hand, when you're operating from your ego and self-will, you're totally self-conscious and judgmental. "Is this good enough?" "How do I look?" "What do they think of me?" "Did I win?" Ugh! From this place, accomplishments only give a fleeting rush, a momentary ego boost, and then you're desperately searching for the next source of validation, the next conquest. You can never rest or savor anything for fear that someone else may be slipping ahead of you in the narcissistic line. Happiness in this state is impossible, even considered frivolous or an illusion.
So, why would anyone choose to come from their ego and self-will, when it's such a tiring, endless hamster-wheel of an existence? Why don't we all choose to come from our hearts and souls in all of our actions all of the time?
In this great little book I'm reading, "THE WAR OF ART," Steven Pressfield says:
"The more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it." Steven further goes on to say: "Resistance is directly proportional to love."
So, the more our heart and soul call us, the more we love someone or something, the more resistance we have to heeding the call? Why would this be so?
Well, the ego and self-will were created by our minds in childhood in order to survive the slings and arrows of having imperfect, unactualized, often dysfunctional parents hurting us at a time when we were most vulnerable. In an attempt to manipulate ourselves and our environment to futilely try and control the pain and our parents, and perhaps get more good love from them, we became super self-conscious and in that endeavor ultimately identified with our ego. And of course, the consequence of that is that we had to negate the reality of our true identity, that we actually are our heart and soul. Our identity thus became reversed from its natural state. We came to believe that we are egos that "have" a heart and soul, when in fact, we are souls that "have" an ego.
Resistance, that part of us that sabotages our efforts to express our hearts and souls fully, is our internal "Blackwater," a ruthless mercenary hired by the ego to crush our spirits, so that our ego can stay in power.
Here's a kick in the gut from Pressfield:
"Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole. Resistance is protean. It will assume any form, if that's what it takes to deceive you. It will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stick-up man. Resistance has no conscience. It will pledge anything to get a deal, then double-cross you as soon as your back is turned. If you take Resistance at its word, you deserve everything you get. Resistance is always lying and always full of shit."
Bottom line - you survived your childhoods. If you're not psychotic or dead - and if you're reading this, you're not - you survived. So now, it's time to fire Blackwater and return the ego to its proper place, that of "intrapsychic secretary" and quiet observer, and try out letting your heart and soul lead your life for you. Most of us need a guide for a while to accomplish that, so... okay you know where that's heading.
Thanks for saying it straight-up, Steven.