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Recently I was reading a monthly newsletter by a bestselling author in the alternative science field. He was tracking sales for his latest masterpiece, and he seemed verklempt that, despite the high numbers, his book hadn’t popped up on the New York Times bestseller list yet.
All of a sudden, mid-read, a feeling I don’t typically have to contend with came roaring to the surface. Pure unadulterated jealousy in all its green-eyed glory overtook me, and I found myself the sole guest at a Pity Party of my own making.
‘Oh, to have your problems’, I thought as I cried in my beer (OK, it was lemon water). I was upset over the fact that my book wasn’t even finished yet, and here was this guy who was obsessing about his stellar sales not being good enough.
‘Waaah’, went my envy, ‘I’ll never be as accomplished as him, never make it as an author’ and on and on and on it went, with one negative thought one-upping the next, until I’d worked myself into a hellish state of defeat.
The feeling was so debilitating, and left me in such a horrible mood, that I decided I needed to get out of this space as soon as possible. The negative intensity of this feeling made it easy to identify: it was my ego kicking in. This fear-based part of ourselves tends to whip up batches of shadow emotions like jealousy, anger, greed, or shame, and then use them to throw us off our mojo. Creativity, joy, connection to our Creator – all these take a hit when our egoic emotions start whirling around inside of us.
Luckily, there are a few key mindset shifts we can use to pull ourselves out of this crippling mentality and into a state of balance, increased wisdom, and empowerment. This is called turning the tables on the ego, and it takes committing to just a few basic steps in order to successfully move our mood from pitiful and pessimistic, to productive and peaceful.
1. Give Yourself a (Short) Time to Just Feel
This may seem counterintuitive, but allowing your jealousy, anger, shame, or other egoic fear-based feeling to see the full light of day means that it is no longer stuffed down (in your subconscious or unconscious mind) where you have no chance of knowing about it. Knowledge is power, and letting yourself experience the feeling means that you now have the opportunity to observe it, figure out where it’s coming from, and work on healing it.
2. Shift Gears From Feeling to Observing
Once you’ve sat with your feeling for a few minutes, take an internal step back from it, as if you’re a whole other person watching someone else’s drama unfold. The reality is, you are. Ego is the false part of ourselves. When we take a step back and just observe it, we move into Spirit. This is our true reality, the one we were created to live in. That’s why it feels so good to experience love, peace, and joy – it’s our natural state of being.
Here, you start to find out the ‘meaning behind the meaning’ of your emotion. You become like a detective working to unravel a mystery. It’s important to not just observe the surface clues, but also to delve deeper and start putting the puzzle pieces together in order to solve the case.
For example, I couldn’t just say that I was jealous because I wanted to be a successful author, just like ‘bestseller man’. I also had to take a closer look at myself to realize that this shadow feeling of envy came up in me because I’d been putting the writing of my book on the backburner too much lately – which for me translated to putting my dream on the backburner. Rather than simply wanting to have what this other author had, what I really wanted was to commit more time and focus to my own writing project.
Observing our egoic emotion, then, allows us to find the lesson it has to teach us about how to align our actions more fully with our goals and dreams.
3. Get a “Redirect” Tool
What do I mean? Well, this is a kind of bridge builder between observing the emotion, and being able to overcome it through the action step outlined in number 4 below. Egoic emotions tend to create overwhelm, and so finding healthy ways to release them allows for enough clear-headedness to focus on turning the shadow emotion into Light.
Maybe you go workout at the gym, listen to a soothing meditation to calm your mind, hang out with your romantic partner, or punch the boxing bag that’s hanging in your basement (just don’t get those last two mixed up or you’ll have to start the process all over again). You can use whatever works to help you let go of the negative energy and refocus on more positive action.
4. Spend at Least 5 Minutes Working on an Action That Counters the “Shadow” Emotion
In step 2 we solved the mystery of what the problem was; here we take action to solve the actual problem itself. The focus is us on doing what makes us joyful, balanced, and centered. In my case, I wrote and edited and reread book passages all afternoon – and doing so radically altered how I was feeling.
When we do something about the issues behind our shadow emotions, we are creating an enriching and enlightened environment in which our ego cannot abide, and so it simply dissipates into thin air. What’s left is a deep contentment and a feeling of empowerment from having made inroads towards our goals.
Sometimes it takes cooperation to solve an issue – such as when we’ve had a fight with a spouse or friend, and we’d like to resolve the conflict. If cooperation isn’t forthcoming, it can feel like the problem is hanging out there in space causing us angst. Yet worry and anxiety aren’t going to lead to cooperation; either the other person will come around or they won’t. You can only be responsible for you. Just understand that by doing your part to feel, observe, redirect, and take action, you’ve still stepped away from ego and into a space where more positive emotions can thrive.
5. Know That You Heal the World When You Heal Yourself
Energy is real – it is measurable and, as scientific studies into The Observer Effect have shown, our inner thoughts affect our outer reality. In everyday life, this means that self-healing makes it easier for those around us who are faltering to make the choice to heal as well.
This is the same concept we see when someone holds the door open for a stranger – we observe them doing this, and then we find ourselves doing the same for the person walking behind us.
Our energy can’t be physically seen of course, but it can be felt by others. And while we may never know who we’ve helped to uplift, rest assured that your self-improvement energy is palpable, and this “example energy” sends out positive vibes to all those who you encounter throughout your days.
Each time we’re able to shed Light on a shadow emotion, doing so gets easier. With enough practice, our first reaction becomes to rise above our own malarkey and investigate what it has to teach us. In this way, we can use our ego triggers as tools to gain valuable insights into ways we can move ourselves, and our world, forward into a Higher Consciousness of Love.
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