Mark Epstein on ego and primitive feelings (The Trauma of Everyday Life)

The problem with the ego, according to Mr. Epstein, is that it wants so badly to know.

“The ego comes into being when we’re two or three or four years old,” he said, “just feeling our own separateness and how difficult it is to navigate the external pressures from parents and teachers, and the internal pressures of one’s biology, one’s drives and so on. The ego wants security and stability and coherence. It’s rooted in the intellect, so it tells stories. It fastens on to the first stories that start to make sense, both positive and negative.”

We then incessantly repeat these stories to ourselves “under our breath,” as Mr. Epstein writes in (his)

new book. The classic stubborn story dealt with in therapy, he said, can be summarized in four words:

“The problem is me.”

And the low self-esteem reinforced by such stories “is as much ego as the puffed-up, ‘I’m the best,’ competitive, American way we ordinarily think of the ego.”

(Mark Epstien is a American based psychiatrist, therapist and author in practice in New York who draws on Buddhist philosophy his three books which I highly recommend are Open To Desire, The Trauma of Everyday Life and Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart as well as many others).

Mercury in Leo stations direct

Lion 3.jpg

Mercury is the planet which rules mind, communication, perceptions, interpersonal connections and self expression (aligned with Venus Mars and the Sun).  It has been moving retrograde (backwards) for three weeks now and goes direct tomorrow.  The following info is from Celestial Space`s blog  She does not have a reblog button on the site so I am sharing it for readers as it tallies with what has been occuring for me.   My inner child has really needed support over the past few days with transiting Mercury squaring My Natal Neptune in the third house and smack bang on the exact degrees of my dead sister`s Pluto.  Memories of her leaving when I was 3 have been bringing me to tears over past days.  I am not able to share all of the article only one paragraph but here is the link  (ive cheated here and used two paragraphs!!)

https://celestialspace.wordpress.com/2018/08/18/celestial-twinkle-mercury-stations-direct-in-leo-august-2018/

This transit of Mercury in Leo has brought up tension around holding onto painful ideas or perceptions that become chronic and inflamed. Mercury in Leo at its peak potential embodies a sense of innocence, joy and liveliness.  When Mercury in Leo is off-balance, words and ideas are dominating, selfishness and pride are over the top as is the need for attention and being put on a high pedestal.

Focus the mental energy on the highest vision possible for the highest good for all. Hold steady to that outcome and ask for Spiritual energies for support. This means, it is not the egoic mind’s expectation, rather, the idea that the highest good for all is the healthiest and most loving so everyone is lifted up and shines their brightest as their Soul potential.

 

400 followers : some reflections on darkness, light, anger, love and pain

Fear of the Dark

I cannot believe that today I had a 400th follow…. At times I question what I write.  I know how I have struggled with the darkness, sadness and fear inside of me and often the inner critic who I named ‘Mr A’ in previous post is on my back or whispering in my ear that its not okay, that I should be stronger or more sorted or brighter or more positive than I can feel on some days.  Often it’s only when I get to therapy which is a space where I feel fully seen and accepted and held do I get to see if I have gone off base or have been missing the mark with some of the things I have been writing.

Today I am really seeing and feeling how my past has limited me and kept a brace around my heart of old hurts that could not really burst the confines of things.  I am sure over the years many of those 400 followers have fallen away and I know at times I have gone over and over and over and over old ground but that as we were discussing in therapy today is purpose of becoming conscious, seeing the way in which old patters driven by deep wounds in the dark of the unconscious may be fuelling the compulsion to repeat or feelings of not being ‘good enough’ or deserving enough.

And what past trauma that hasn’t been unpacked or depotentised does to us is that it keeps us pinned to a dark sticking place that attaches our consciousness most often to negative world views and can shatter any sense of hope we have for something better…. colouring everything dark.  We do need to go over and over and over our trauma story until things become clearer and the need to feel the impact not just intellectualise it is imperative.  With each revolution or working through more is revealed and we understand more deeply than we could before when the truth was hidden and we were closer or too immersed in forces that shaped us unconsciously.  New triggers are necessary for us to understand earlier pains, reactions or losses.

Katina and I were discussing shame and guilt in therapy today.  I have a lot of shame and feelings of fear of being found lacking or good enough which I carried from a young age.  My drinking was an attempt to shut the negative feelings and fears and voices down.  It only worked for a time but then they would come back with a vengeance.  Also critical times of others failing to show empathy did not help me to throw off these ‘not good enough’ shackles.  All I can say is thank God for therapy, there are least for a time I get a reprieve and a reality check.  Today what came out of our discussion was how much I really have worked and how much I have to give others in terms of being present and able to hold them when they are going through dark times.  Lately my Mum has been opening up to me because she knows all the work I do in therapy and deep down inside she longs to be able to talk to someone and break the family pattern of locking it all up inside.  This talking about things and being present is a positive gift that I have to give others and it does me and others no service if I don’t honour it.  I didn’t get 400 follows because I write ‘shit’, Mr A!!

Today I had a lovely surprise, a message from my second cousin in Holland who visited briefly in January.   I actually met him on the day I got Michael Brown’s book the Presence Process and it seems he is involved in emotional release work of his own at present and was reaching out to offer me help with trapped emotions.  I told him of the work I have been doing in recovery and therapy with my emotions.   Maybe he reached out to me because when he was here I shared with him how I gave up opportunities to live far from home due to my dead sister’s disability and as usual I may have been strong in showing my vulnerable self but also not really honouring how much I have learned and grown as a result.

And it seems to me that lately I need to be acknowledging my power as much as my past powerlessness, for when we choose to face things instead of covering them up and admit our vulnerability there is power we find in and through that.  The prospect of going to visit Europe next year is a hopeful one, for I will feel even stronger after I face the current dental challenges which will take about 3 or more months.

Today I also logged on to Facebook to see photos of two sets of grand niece and nephews birthday images.  These are the grandchildren of my beautiful passionate sister Judith who died 3 years ago and the twins who are 3 today were born just a month after Jude died in 2014.  I cried silently to see how much of her beautiful lively energy they carry and to recognise how the essence of a spirit no matter how damaged or wounded lives on in their children and grandchildren.  I then felt a bit sad for me that I was never able to fully heal in time to be able to bring any of my six children to birth, yet at the same time I realised that in the sadness was also a deeper acceptance as really my work over the past 22 years of recovery has involved bringing my own inner spirit to birth, life and full expression at least partially free of past crippling repressions and feelings of impotence and powerlessness  Getting that inner child of hiding free from shame and shadows that possessed or almost smothered her for years is essential work and I am well underway.

I felt the strong uprising of Leo energy today and have lost track to a degree of where the planets are at present, only know the North Node is now beginning to transit Leo and that is the point of spiritual increase.  Leos energy rules the vital part of myself that is full of joy and creative potential that I never fully got to manifest.  I see that firey, creative spirit most especially in my grand niece,  I think of all the limits and blocks on her energy my now dead older sister encountered, due in many ways to the time she was born in and what my parents endured.  Her spirit never went free until she died but her descendants carry part of it forward.   And despite all the struggles that young ones can go through these kids have loving protective parents who care enough to be emotionally available and have been fortunate enough to find loving partners who support them through emotional and mental health struggles.

It is cause for happiness to know that love can come out of pain and that the next generation does not need to pass down wounds from the former if we can just bring enough consciousness and awareness to bear.  I am so looking forward to visiting when my dental work is all done and I am feeling well enough.

Just moments before writing this post I had heard about the terrorist attack in Manchester and I thought of how separatist the wounded ego is. It wants to kill, it wants to hurt, it wants to attack, it wants to defend, it wants to maim, and when we bow down to or allow that separatist force to dominate our vital moving spirit of love, peace, joy and freedom is imprisoned. And sadly in this attack that pain has all been dumped on children who were freely trying to enjoy a happy time.

Fear blocks the love that wants to move forward to embrace, express and live, anger that has not yet learned the part wounded love or absence of love played in driving or shaping or fuelling it becomes a destructive force, sadly, a force we so badly need to harness and channel towards the positive.

We do live in complex and painful times where hatred and anger and pain have the ability to divide us and separate us off from love and in these times we have to do such work to keep reaching for hope, for love, for joy, for connectivity and for positivity.

For the light entered the darkness and the darkness knew it not.  Or the light penetrated the darkness and in revealing all the dark places made us more aware and more conscious so that we did not have to fear the dark as much.  Perhaps it is only the darkness that isn’t brought to light that causes problems.   Demons and ghosts can live in those dark places and attach to thing we cannot see there growing and growing more painful and destructive in the dark shadows, but also longing for the light.  Pain and suffering makes us aware of what has been buried, hidden or lost so that we can grieve and open our hearts wider to what is hidden it the dark and liberate what lives there from the shadows and count our blessings for what is left, and in the end it is the attitude that we take towards the dark which determines in the end if light and wisdom will prevail or the dark forces will try to eat us alive.

Recognising selfishness in my shadow : undergoing necessary psychic surgery

Gradually, you will start to see the ego for what it is. Not only physically, but internally. Through dreams, through visions, through understanding. By stripping away, the ego’s desires and defences, we begin to understand the world in which we live and the circumstances that have occurred, which are easily explained and dissolved, through inner child and ego resolution, to strip back layers of conditioning and discover, the raw, limitless creative power and potential, we each possess is the ultimate discovery.

To be healed, we need a very profound surgery, very deep and very painful. It’s not easy, facing all the demons and voices in your head. Its not easy or pleasant to die psychologically. It’s not something that you will enjoy. You will feel pain. You will cry. You will have regret. You will have remorse. You will be ashamed of yourself. Don’t avoid any of the uncomfortable feelings or traumas. Embrace it, yet do not attach to it. Look squarely at the facts, accept them, and change.

Source : https://kellybristow.com/2016/07/10/the-shadow-opposite-of-the-seven-sins/

I admit I can be self centre even while I show care for others.  Sometimes its only after posting about some hurt feelings my ego is struggling with that I get to see deeper and try for at least just a little while to see myself less as a victim of an insensitive world and more as a very ordinary human being who struggles to feel she is good enough and deserves love while realising at the same time realising that as an adult the sense of good enough and love needs to come from within first and only then can be found without.

One of the things I struggle with is connecting emotionally to my family heart to heart.  As the youngest I tend to view my older family from a young part of my inner self.  I see them as all strong and powerful and therefor withholding something I essentially need.  I then forget that they struggle and may have trust issues too and do the very best with what they know.

Today I got a wake up call where I came to see how much I need to remember to think kindly and not see things from the point of view of solely what I am getting or not getting.  It is the young side of me that wants others to be the adult and forgets all the commitments and responsibilities they have and that often they too struggle with the voices in their heads telling them they should be somewhere else and this dark or shadow side of me that I am seeing today was highlighted after I read a post by Kelly Bristow that I quoted from above.

This afternoon I ended up having the chat to my Mum about the anger and resentment I am struggling with that I wrote about in a post earlier.   After this conversation I became aware that it is the mother of the past that was not very emotionally present.  It was the mother of the past who never was connected to by those she needed support from because they were often absent or preoccupied and that because of this she was so often that way herself.  And it was the mother of the past who lost her spouse and own mother in quick succession and then saw her family spread to all the far flung corners of the country  and struggled herself as we all struggled in our different ways, but me perhaps more in those early years following my Dad’s death when I had no loving partner and only painful relationships that ended causing my heart more hurt

In my disconnection during active years of alcoholism all pain was buried.  In recovery a lot of shadow pain has been resurfacing to be dealt with and this process is akin to a difficult kind of psychic or intra psychological surgery I have been undergoing.  As Kelly says, it hurts to have this kind of surgery and to face this level of pain, but at the same time bringing our shadow to light is really the only way we can grow and heal.  And it occurred to me this afternoon that on one level the prospect of having my tooth excised soon is a reflector on the physical plane of what I have been going through emotionally and will be felt on a profound emotional level when I have the dental surgery done, the prospect of it is triggering a lot of trauma to my head over years.

I am never grateful for the pain or suffering I feel at the time, but after wards I do feel a release when certain diseased parts of myself are revealed.  It may be shame, guilt, sadness, anger, disappointment, fear, resentment or some other emotion I am struggling with but I am much better off when the emotion comes out into the open or surfaces like a boil, letting its pus out.  Then the wound has a chance to form a scar and heal, the scar may remain but the wound will no longer be infected, the infected tissue must come out or blocks must be cleared to energy or life blood so that it can run clean and clear.

 

It became plain to me last week that my diseased tooth must come out.  It has to be faced and the process gone through.  I need to accept.  In the words of the AA Big Book “we thought we could find an easier softer way but we could not”.    And I know my higher power or higher self will always be there to help me through any pain if and when I call upon it to hold my hand as I find the courage to face the surgery.

 

Ego in the Buddhist sense : or how negative ego keeps us separate

Illusion.jpg

Ego, in the Buddhist sense then,

is the ongoing activity of holding oneself separate,

making oneself into something solid and definite,

and identifying with this split off fragment of the experiential field.

Continually maintaining this identity project

perpetuates a division between self and other

that prevents us from recognising ourselves

seamlessly woven into the larger field of reality.

And the more we hold ourselves apart from the world,

from our experience,

and from the naked power of life itself,

regarding these as other,

the more we fall prey to inner struggle,

dissatisfaction, anxiety and alienation.

John Welwood

Introspection on my inner world and the Leo Lunar Eclipse

Life constantly brings change, yet eclipses always demarcate a period of accelerated change with synchronous endings and beginnings.  New relationships, attractions, experiences, and work opportunities appear seemingly out of nowhere with full force of manifestation, surprising us with their dramatic entrance into our surface reality.  Eclipses are also mysterious portals that hold profound shifts in the enfoldment of our destiny, as many of the changes signified by an eclipse are happening under the surface and not immediately observable in the surrounding period of the lunation.  We stand at the crossroads during eclipses bidding farewell to aspects of identity that can require grieving, while simultaneously welcoming exciting new experiences and relationships that need to be integrated into one’s life.

Any kind of interpersonal conflict tends to make me introspective.  I have become more aware lately of how my amygdala or emotional brain so quickly kicks into gear at certain events and I am highly reactive, most often in an intensely emotional way.  I was reading today how we can carry a balloon of traumatic life events which tends to blow out at times making rude noises and getting out of control.   The writer was saying how therapy helps us to let some air out of the balloon gently and slowly.  This really struck me.   I seem to get triggered in a big way and then I see later once the dust has settled I may have not seen the other person clearly, nor understood the emotional nuances.  This is where a 11th step inventory or introspection can help which works as well as or in tandem with therapy or feedback from objective sources outside the conflict.  Still it is left to me to try to dig deeply and examine my own as well as the other’s part in the conflict.

At the same time when people say negative things about me its hard to brush it off.  They tend to lodge deep in my heart,  I have no filters at all.  I turn into a crying mess.  Apparently according to someone that makes me pathetic.  Maybe.  Not according to my therapist today who has tried to remind me that not every female relationship ends in tears or badly, that in fact lately over past months many of my female friendships have become more deeply empathetic and supportive.  I need to hold on to that today as I began to feel so low down on myself after yesterday’s events and explosive comments.

I am a believer in the transformative energies around eclipses and lunar eclipses apparently raise up shadow issues to clear the way for a new beginning at the following New Moon two weeks later and this one will fall smack bang on my natal planet of wounding and healing in relationships, Chiron so this makes so much sense of how emotional I have been feeling lately.

In some way yesterday anger got sparked as I felt I had been invaded by someone actually trying to be kind.  I was not comfortable with it.  It reminds me of other times people trying to offer me help has ended badly.  Communications got confused and everything ended up pear shaped.  Originally I just expressed discomfort and when the other person was obviously distressed I had been uncomfortable and not said anything she felt angry when that got me upset and I posted a blog and it all snowballed!

Anyway today, in the cool of the local library I am contemplating the part I play in things, how I can be more aware, of what the person pointed out that I did not address and accused me therefore of passive aggression for.  I see where she was coming from but she didn’t live the week I lived last week where time to take anything deep on board was severely compromised.  I then got an email saying how I was missed from her blog when I would have loved to have visited had I more time on my hands.

One of the problems of the blogging and internet world is we don’t get to see the other person’s life and what they truly live outside writing.  Lets all show compassion please.

Today I feel that some things about myself I didn’t clearly see before have come to my awareness. I see where the other person, feeling unjustly treated and misunderstood got upset and used unkind words.  I don’t believe I am a jealous person as accused but only I can know that and if others think it or deduce it, I guess they are entitled to their opinion.

Today from a calm introspective place I am reminding myself to answer attack with love. I am reminded that in the heat of the moment when emotions rule I don’t always see things clearly and dispassionately but that too is understandable.   Its something to become more aware of and work on.

These words from Gray Crawford speak clearly to me today.

The Leo Lunar Eclipse and the Pisces Solar Eclipse coming on February 26 are the final two eclipses to occur with the South Node of the Moon in Pisces.  As a result there will be an immense bursting of collective illusions forcing humanity to become wide awake to the discrepancy between fantasy and bare boned reality. ……

The North Node of the Moon in Virgo continues to call us to embrace the moment with full awareness of everything occurring, whether we feel attraction or repulsion, and to discern choices that will bring greater fulfillment through service to the greater good.

Mars rules the third face of Leo, and Mars is extremely strong at the eclipse in its own sign of Aries…..the overused adage of fighting fire with fire brings the question of how much conflict and destruction are worth inflicting over the issues we feel enlivened to defend and battle over.  While the power of our animated heart can lead us to resiliently contend and combat threatening forces beyond the point of exhaustion, it will also be worthwhile to discern our bodily limits and when rest and caregiving of our incarnated form is necessary.  The many fiery collective conflicts that will arise in 2017 are heralded by this first Lunar Eclipse in Leo, so gaining clarity over what is worth fighting for as well as how to best nourish and sustain our inner fire and fleshy form will be essential.

I am so grateful to Gray for sharing this wisdom and I have lessons to learn about how I use my own Mars/assertive energy and how others use theirs.

The blocks in my heart that stop the wheel from turning well

There are blocks in my heart that prevent me loving.  That keep me trapped, that keep me locked up.  Impatient and tired of these blocks I am now seeing I want to remove them.  Love can hurt, feeling our hearts awake and alive at times can hurt.  There are times when we will give our hearts only to have them broken but what I am seeing is that even at these times we can choose to open our hearts in love even if the love we answer to and is asked for comes from our own heart and is challenging for us to give.

I am also beginning to see that my own deep blocks come from resistance.  Resistance to painful truths, anger that things are this way, well the anger maybe appropriate but why be angry about something I cannot change?  Let me face the fact that anger is showing me I may need to let go and move on, that nothing is coming from trying to hold on so tightly to what is hurting me and that the worst pain comes from resisting and fighting against the painful truth.  Once I can open to the painful truth I can stop the resistance, I can stop the fight, I can stop trying to change the things that just are the way they are and choose instead to love them and myself by moving on.

Accepting painful truths does not mean I have to like them. It does not mean that I will not be hurt by them but it does mean that I will begin to take some steps to care for me in the midst of them and take the right action to stop the hurting.  Only I can do this.  I cannot ask or demand it of any other person.  Only I can fully care for me.

It is so lovely when others hear and validate my pain, when my deep pain is held and recognised, I have the feeling that a lot of so called mental illness comes from our deepest truths and pain not being fully validated.  When others are mean to us, when they invalidate us, when they try to control us they are not coming from a place of love and yet we still have to answer with love, answer with love for ourselves, answer with compassion for them but not at the expense of boundaries. We have to see the fear and pain underneath their control.  We need deeper eyes to see the fear and insecurity that is driving them.  We don’t have to take on board the projection.  We can let the arrow pass.

In closing this post I want to share a meditation I read yesterday in my daily reader which spoke to me deeply.

If one considers oneself or one’s life as a wheel within which

there are spokes and there is a central hub,

then in the life without the divine, the ego is that hub,

and all the spokes, the relationships and events that happen

are important or unimportant in so far as they affect the ego. 

We’re hurt, we’re angry, we act.  If one lives in the divine presence

and displaces at the hub his ego for God or for the Divine,

then what happens to him is then related to that hub.

Rabbi Samuel Drexel