Truth Bomb Tuesday: Most of your suffering is served up to feed your ego.
I dropped a line last week that got a bit of response and thought I should probably unpack it a little more.
Suffering feeds the ego.
Now, this absolutely doesn’t mean ‘sadness feeds your vanity’. That’s not what those terms mean.
“Ego” is what it originally meant. It’s the problem solving mind – the part of the mind that has created an image of us, and then uses that image to navigate the world, developing and executing strategies.
Now our first instinct when we are suffering (which means everything from being a bit hungry, to losing a limb, to existential dread) is to fire up the problem solving mind and to start developing strategies.
I feel anxiety about my financial future. I need to think up a way out.
That person annoys me. I need to find a strategy to get them out of my life.
I feel insecure and suffer for a lack of self-confidence. I need to figure out how to get some new clothes.
This is pure instinct. It’s just what we do. Humans are problem solvers.
However, we are more than just problem solvers.
And often times the peace and relaxation we crave comes once we drop and deactivate our problem solving mind – a mind that by-definition lives in the strategized future, or the instructive past.
Mediation, and coming into ‘the moment’, I reckon, is just about switching off the problem solving mind.
But, the problem-solving mind has quite a high opinion of itself. And it doesn’t really like being ‘switched off’. That’s why meditation is so hard.
And if it’s starved of energy, it gets hungry. If it gets hungry it goes hunting.
And what does it eat?
A problem-solver can’t exist without a problem. A healer can’t exist without an ailment.
The ego needs problems to ‘fix’.
And this is where the whole complex gets a bit glitchy.
If there are no problems then the ego – the problem solving mind – will make one.
It will start to focus attention on something we might perceive of as a problem. It might take a minor annoyance and blow it up a bit out of proportion. Or it might invent something entirely out of thin air.
It’s needs a problem to justify its existence.
And this is why it can feel like you can be making awesome progress in your life – you’re getting financially sorted, you’re setting yourself up, you’re working on your relationships – and yet for all that, you’re not feeling your anxiety and stress levels decrease.
You can see that you’re making progress, but every problem gives way to a new one, and it just doesn’t feel like you’re getting anywhere.
And this is because for every problem you solve, the hungry ego will go out and find something to takes its place.
This doesn’t stop until we make it stop.
Until we notice this and start to deenergise the whole complex, our ego will keep us running like a hamster in a wheel.
Freedom only comes when we come back into that place where there are no problems.
That’s not a place ‘out there’.
That’s a place ‘in here’.
And it’s only accessible through conscious will.
So don’t try and solve the world.
The real work is within you.