In Part 1 of this Blog Post, I wrote about the ‘missing element’ in most strategies and advice for attaining the shifts we may want in business or life.
Getting our ego on board.
Because, although we need our ego to experience the changes, if we don’t integrate it into our strategy, we’ll meet all kinds of unnecessary resistance and obstacles.
Whilst aligning our mind and body (ego) with our intentions and big goals isn’t always easy; it is surprisingly simple.
This post provides 6 steps for ‘doing’ this.
Ego… much written about yet little understood, What is it?
- The parts of us we typically identify as being. Out mind and body (including our name, thoughts, beliefs, (our job, other labels, etc.)
- The survival mechanism for our physical safety.
- The container of our beliefs.
- The part of us that enables our objective experience.
Ego dictates how we think, feel, behave, react and see the world.
Based almost entirely on what’s stored in our subconscious and based upon ego’s bid to preserve the status quo… and thereby keep us safe.
Ironically, in subconsciously being on high alert for the very change our true self wants, our ego has us ‘operating’ in ways which prevent or slow change and normalise our environment (results).
Without us even knowing it.
So we procrastinate, press snooze, do what’s not important but feels urgent, don’t do what is important, don’t make those sales calls, eat the cake, don’t get to the gym, say yes instead of no or no instead of yes, etc.
And we instantly dismiss, filter out and reject what doesn’t fit with our pre-existing, crystallised beliefs.
Our ego is undeniably talented at slowing change…
We experience incremental change or go in circles not because we’re not capable of making huge leaps or creating the change we want but because – until we’ve suffered enough – we’re unconsciously closed off to the very things which will support us to create the change we most want.
Such as getting emotionally attached to the idea of 200% or 300% growth this year instead of 20% or 30%.
The ego is so clever in concealing its ways that we remain closed-off even when we consider ourself to be open or “growth-minded”.
It’s another paradox in the game of life.
Ego always wants to be right.
And more often than not, it wins its game because its deploying its tactics beneath the level of our conscious awareness.
It can be so subtle we don’t ever connect the dots.
Instead we fall for our ego’s stories. Really believing if we try harder or focus more or cut this out of our life or do this or try a new strategy or increase our productivity that we’ll get the shift in results we really want.
Or we fall for believing that ‘changing our mind’ is the right thing to do….
What lit us up and made perfect sense yesterday and which we were going to act upon doesn’t stack up today.
We’ve had a think about it and here’s why…. “reason X, reason Y, history, memory, evidence, etc.”
Real reason = our ego has done the reasoning.
Ego loves incremental change because it’s safe. Ego loves our old stories because they perpetuate what is.
Ego may be comfortable with 10%, 20%, 50% or maybe even 100% change in a year but go beyond this and ego gets scared and plays its logic and reason cards.
We may call it ‘being realistic’ or we may come up with 101 other excuses we believe in and can justify.
But if they’re not expansive and coming from our true heart led desires, they’re most likely preservation (or distraction) tactics derived from ego.
And yes, we can point to ‘external reasons’ for our decisions and results.
We can easily justify why a really great sales period is followed by a not so great one.
Such as “this time of year is always quiet”..….
But yo-yo results are not a result of ‘external’ circumstances or events etc. We may be convinced they are but they’re really the result of our internal yo-yo’ing and our own inner stories driven by beliefs and what’s held in our own consciousness.
“Circumstances do not make the man, they reveal him.” – James Allen
So, if experiencing the changes we most want without having to try or work harder is as simple as getting our ego on-board, what can we do to achieve this?
1. Accept what is.
This is so critical but so overlooked. When there’s something in our current experience that we don’t want or are uncomfortable with, we must accept it.
If we don’t make peace with what is, then we unconsciously feed it and it controls us. We suffer.
Counterintuitively, it’s our resistance and discomfort and stories about what is that hold it in our experience in one way shape or form.
For example, we can’t complain and tell old stories about what we’re not happy with and experience its opposite.
As I’ve written about before, the world is simply a mirror of our internal state. We may not recognise it as a reflection but that’s the game of life – our job is to recognise our own reflection.
Because until we do; whilst we may strive to escape and succeed in moving on from a precise situation, if we don’t learn our lesson from it, we’re likely to find ourself out of the frying pan and into the fire.
A new face, new job, sales director, business etc. but same old outcomes.
On the other hand our acceptance of what is releases the resistance we have and enables us to then choose what we do want and place our awareness here instead.
2. Know who we really are – answering life’s most fundamental question.
This is the missing element from almost all ‘personal development’ courses, programmes and advice.
Which is possibly why fewer than 3% who invest in ‘personal development’ achieve a significant and sustained shift in the trajectory of their lives.
Yet when we answer the ‘who am I’ question, we can set ourselves free from the suffering caused by our ego.
And we can understand and appreciate the difference between our heart’s desires and those of our ego.
No longer do we need to pursue goals in order to feel more safe, secure, in control, happy, wealthy, approved of or good enough.
Instead we can go after our goals for the love of them.
For the expansion, expression, experience, adventure, freedom.
And because we’ve dropped the needy energy and resistance caused by ego, we find we achieve our goals with much greater ease and effort and in much less time than we’d previously ‘believed’ possible.
We also enjoy the journey because now it’s about the journey. It’s about living life, not waiting to live.
Answering the ‘who am I’ question however is not an intellectual exercise.
So many people – and I certainly did – spend years trying to ‘figure out’ who they are and what their purpose is; unaware that this in itself is a trick of the ego in a bid to preserve the false identity and the status quo.
Ego knows we can never ‘figure out’ who we are; we have to experience this.
It’s simple and it sets us free and yet paradoxically it’s the one thing our ego is most fearful of and it will do anything to prevent us from discovering.
3. Decide what we really want.
To get what you really want, you have to know what you really want. It sounds so basic and obvious.
But the truth is most people never really determine or decide this.
Instead most settle for what they believe is possible… which is very different to what they really desire.
Most are more aware of what they have and don’t want (step 1) or they’re busy working to avoid what they don’t want in the future.
Seeking to get to a point in the future where they can relax and let go and maybe then live as they’ve always wanted to (before they’re too old!)
A former mentor of mine once said to me: “Rob. You’re so busy working and doing exactly what most people do. You’re tiptoeing through your life hoping you’ll make it safely to the grave.”
And he was right. And because of it, I wasn’t enjoying or appreciating the journey very much.
Not knowing or deciding what we really want arises from a lack of belief and from identification with ego and it often means the trajectory of our lives doesn’t shift all that much…. despite all our trying.
But ego feels safe and wins. (Despite our true self feeling constricted and stuck).
When we answer the identity question in step 2, we get to see through our beliefs and the games of the ego and whilst we may have to endure the ego’s tricks to get us to put the blinkers back on again, we can nonetheless enjoy a life of flow and ease… no matter what.
(Ego resists the idea of this even being possible of course).
4. Learn what the mind really is and that life happens through us, not to us or by us.
Simplistically, mind is what enables all objective experience.
Like a pair of glasses, we each experience the world through our own individual lenses.
Lenses determined by the multitude of conscious and subconscious beliefs we’ve picked up along ur way and which we’re holding onto.
Many of us have heard about someone being accused of ‘seeing the world through rose-tinted spectacles’ and of being unrealistic but they are in fact having a completely different experience based on the beliefs they hold.
Impossible as it is to grasp intellectually; we literally experience the world through our beliefs and through who we identify ourselves as being.
(Quantum mechanics and quantum physicists have been telling us this for more than 100 years and although awareness of this is gathering pace, it’s not widely known and it’s very threatening for our ego).
So, relative to our deeply held beliefs, we each get to be right.
For example; I have a firm belief that parking spaces are easy to find and that I always get parking spaces easily no matter where I am…. and I do.
My mother believes that finding parking spaces is almost impossible and this is her experience.
So who is right?
We both are. Ego says its coincidence however it’s our beliefs and assumptions that dictate our experience; not the other way around.
So although we may think someone was in the right place at the right time or was lucky; it’s never about that.
It’s always about their own underlying beliefs, assumptions and self-concept. The content of their consciousness.
Our personal experience is being shaped moment to moment by what we’re aligned with in consciousness.
So to experience wealth or continual sales growth; we’ve got to align our consciousness with this FIRST. There’s not other way.
Our ego (body) is contained within the mind, not the other way around.
And our body and physical experience follows what’s held in our mind.
Parking spaces, sales, clients, getting in shape….. whether they’re easy or difficult is a function of our consciousness (or mindset).
5. Learn how to shift to think from our vision and goals instead of towards them.
It’s a subtle shift but one that makes all the difference.
We’re conditioned – and of course it’s perfectly logical (ego) – to be aware and conscious of where we are today relative to our goals.. and therefore to then think ‘what’ we need to do to move us towards their achievement or realisation.
So we devise strategies and plans and take action from here.
But what we may not be aware of is that we only have access to thoughts which are aligned with our current state of awareness.
Which is why when we feel ‘low’, our quality of thinking is ‘low’ and vice versa.
And we may not be aware that we are always taking action relative to our state of awareness.
So, counterintuitive as it is, the key is to shift our awareness to align with already having achieved our goals (before we actually have).
It’s what all true visionaries and great leaders do by default.
Great leadership isn’t about a title or a skillset, it is a mindset.
When we shift our awareness, we not only gain access to different thoughts and ideas (and therefore come up with different strategies) but we fuse our ego with our intention and are moved accordingly.
It’s the fusion of our conscious intentions with our subconscious that produces a state of flow and ease.
We’re then far more productive, things fall perfectly into place and we feel aligned internally which of course produces the corresponding results externally.
(And by default we’re nicer to be around too).
6. Lean into our fears and emotions vs. avoiding and suppressing them.
Whenever we embody a state of consciousness aligned with our biggest goals and are moved to take action as a result, our ego will almost always go into overdrive in an attempt to pull us back.
Ego knows a new state of consciousness fused with our goals means change is guaranteed so the emotions and fears which were in our subconscious (and running the show) are brought to the surface along with old stories to validate our disbelief or fear..
What was unconscious and dictating behaviour and results now becomes conscious.
And although this can feel really uncomfortable, this is where we have a choice.
A. Moderate or drop the vision or goal. (The path most taken).
B. Avoid and thereby suppress the feelings and lock them back in with the old beliefs.
C. Lean into the emotions and fears and release them once and for all.
What we’re accustomed and conditioned to do with our fears and ‘negative’ emotions is distract ourselves from them or actively avoid or suppress them. (We do it unconsciously).
One reason being (especially if we haven’t answered the question in step 2) is that it can be all too easy for us to identify with our emotions.
As such we say things such as: “I am stressed” or “I am anxious” or “I am struggling” and whilst of course it may very much feel this way, it’s not technically true and it stems from identifying with ego.
So when it comes to avoidance / suppression of uncomfortable feelings or emotions, there are a multitude of tactics and strategies for this.
Many are very, very subtle and whilst there may be nothing essentially wrong with any of them, they’re nonetheless ego-based and designed to maintain equilibrium by keeping the unconscious beliefs and stories behind the feelings in place.
So we may find ourselves checking emails (again), doing what we know is not important (but which we somehow can’t stop ourselves from doing), phoning a friend, immediately replying to texts, making another coffee, diving into the fridge, wasting time on social media, alcohol, drugs, etc.
Interestingly, even deciding to do exercise – which of course is beneficial in so many ways – can and often is a subtle suppression / avoidance tactic which keeps the old belief and story locked in and running the show.
Ego tells us we can overcome the fear by DOING X,Y and Z.
Ego is full of ‘must do’, ‘need to’, ‘have to’, ‘ought to’, ‘should do’ ‘can’t do’….
But if we react and do based on fear of not doing, then we invariably lock the old beliefs back in and the change we were on the verge of then mysteriously fails to materialise.
Leaning into our fears and allowing our emotions without identifying with them or labelling them is ultimately the only way to dissolve them.
Pushing unwanted feelings or fears away with activity or distraction tactics may bring us temporary relief but it has consequences down the line. They come back and we suffer; not just emotionally but we suffer physically too.