For our ego watch today we’ll take the whole survival mentality, since this is where people can so easily go when faced with economic challenge and hardship. It’s become really salient with climate change.
After all, it’s so easy, although that’s not how we’d like to see it! You read all sorts of scary headlines about the economy, share or stock prices, house prices, flooding, forest fires, or whatever, and the heart starts beating fast, you go cold, a terror gets a hold, and in a panic you start thinking of all sorts of cataclysmic scenarios. Or you feel like getting out. Or you freeze, and can’t think at all. All well-known stress responses.
The ego is all about survival, keeping us safe. This is our false identification, who we think we are. So, with these sorts of scenarios, it can kick in very fast, a knee-jerk response, seemingly spontaneous, with a feeling response to go with it, all good indicators of the ego at work. Years ago Maslow developed a whole model of this, a “hierarchy of needs” that put physical survival at the bottom and self-actualisation at the top. It won’t surprise you to notice that, while we’re feeling good we’re probably nearer the top, but when the ego kicks in with our scenario we flip back down to the bottom! This is very frustrating to those on a personal development path, since it seems all our efforts have been spoiled.
Well, it hasn’t. This is all part of the personal and spiritual journey and why we need to develop and maintain a personal development or a spiritual practice. The power of Awareness is to spot when the ego is at work and to interrupt it and then to use technique to manage the mind and bring yourself back to your centred state. And keep doing it, whatever occurs. Don’t make yourself wrong or think you’ve failed if your ego management strategy seems not to have worked. That’s how things seem at the moment. They can change, and so we focus, stay on purpose and work to shift our state.
This is all the more important when fear has kicked in and we’re in survival mode. This is not who we are. Time to work on it.