The Ego’s Flying Trapeze
When you let go it's nothing short of spellbinding
Our ego’s primary goal is to maintain its identity. It operates under the belief that it will live forever as long as the ego self is not altered or deconstructed in any way. It therefore must insist upon promoting its own view at all times. The ego works ceaselessly, building stories about the world around it based on the profound experiences of its past. The ego champions only the experiences that support its view and discards all the others. These selected stories of our past become mind movies which play on an infinite loop. We relive them over and over. Thus the ego achieves within us a belief system, the lens through which we view the world. It asserts that these mind movies represent the ultimate and unflappable truth. They cannot be denied. When challenged, the ego will fight to maintain these beliefs at all costs; even killing the body in the process.
It is important to understand that, at a very deep level, we are absolutely terrified of changing our stories. We have expended a great deal of energy creating and supporting these stories. They have served us almost all our lives by providing a simple structure for how to exist in the world. We therefore approach the idea of change (any change) with a great deal of resistance. Ironically we put up the greatest resistance to change in the very moments when we claim to be absolutely committed to change. How often have we seen friends and associates setting out to change some aspect of their lives only to later watch them resist and sabotage the very changes they claim they wish to make?
To our ego, this is not a fight. It is simply a matter of survival. Like booting up a computer, humans come into the world with a preset operating system. The most core part of that operating system is squarely focused on survival. The human animal is programmed to survive at all costs. When people are over exposed to the cold, our bodies will shut down blood supply to the extremities, sacrificing the hands and feet to preserve the core. In the same way, the ego will sacrifice our opportunities for growth and development to preserve its own core. It only knows itself in the now; incapable of understanding the value of short term discomfort for long terms gains.
In stepping forward to become greater versions of ourselves, we enter into an ego struggle. We push at its very will for self-preservation. The ego goes on high alert, sounding a klaxon, warning us to resist any and all changes. It plays mind movies, showing scenes of our decimation, humiliation and doom. It works nonstop to scare us back into emotional homoeostasis where it believes we are safe.
It is in this ego struggle where our growth potential begins. Here, we are like the practicing trapeze artist who must summon the courage to let go of one bar, leap through the air and have the faith that the next trapeze bar will be there for him to grab. The ego doesn’t like this at all. It assures us that such a move will result in our body’s destruction, but really it’s most concerned about its own destruction. In truth, a part of ourselves (our “self”) does end when we stretch out to become greater beings.
The question then becomes, what part of us are we willing to let die? How do we surrender to the unknown? Indeed, becoming a better version of ourselves does sound enticing but then what happens to the version we are today? How do we let go of the trapeze bar when everything within us is saying, hold on tighter? How do we enter into the willingness to die and be reborn? How do we update our belief systems, our dramas and traumas, our roles as victim or villain, our ideal selves as hero or destroyer? The answer may indeed be more puzzling than the question.
It begins with wiping clean the white board of our existence. We stand willing to put into question every known quantity of our lives. Our concepts of love, kindness, hurt and pain become variables that shift back and forth while they undergo a reexamination. Most of all, we must first accept that we are choosing to awaken from the confining dream of ego-as-a-permanent-self. Instead, we make the absolute commitment to live life in the realm of being open, honest and vulnerable at all times. We stand at the precipice of our known universe and choose to step off.
It is at this exact point where many people end their spiritual path. They return to the comforting and secure world that the ego has built for them and never venture forward again. If that is your choice, honor it.
If instead you do choose to move forward into the unknown then you need to strike a deal with the part of you that makes decisions. You need permission from the “you” who decides what information to let in and what information to reject. You must ask it to trust that a new way of being will not be its end, but instead a great continuation of itself. You make that request of it daily, hourly and sometimes in every moment. You align yourself with it. You engage in bold acts of new consciousness to teach it that the ideas and actions it has feared are actually the very things that will bring it what it truly wants. It’s a new kind of security that only comes from accepting that fear and uncertainty are now your best allies.
Together you move forward in a new enhanced ego self. You swing back and forth on the trapeze bar of your universe, gaining greater momentum. At the apogee of your forward swing you let go of the bar and fly into the void. There you are, spinning mid air, existing in the uncertainty and wonder of whether you will fall to your death or whether the next trapeze bar will be there when you reach forward to grasp it. What happens next is nothing short of spellbinding.