Letting Go of the Ego: Transcending Identity for Unlimited Possibilities
“They are mine and yet not mine.”
“Letting go of the ego” is often bandied about, spoken about with such frequency one might be led to believe that it’s a mild habit you can leave behind in the dark. We’re told to leave it at the door before walking into yoga. We’re asked to shed it for the greater good of interpersonal relationships and creative pursuits. Some even claim to treat their egos like a bad pet—they put it in the corner and don’t succumb to its whines, letting that wayward thing know who’s boss.
But keep in mind that all this talk about ego exists for a reason—after all, phrases become clichés because of their relevance and resonance. Recently, though, I’ve gone beyond the noise that surrounds the concept to get to the meat underneath.
Metaphysical processes and phenomena have always fascinated me, but it’s only been in the last year that I’ve studied this field in depth. Formulas often arise in the literature on it, and because of my insatiable interest in the best way to navigate past pain, I decided to try out a few. Here’s the lowdown on what I’ve learned:
-We are connected to a higher force that delivers to us what we ask for.
Ever wonder why the right home, the perfect gift, or the ideal book lands in your lap right when you need it most? This is the Universe working in your favor. When we don’t get what we ask for, it’s because we’ve placed obstacles in front of ourselves, often in the form of self-defeating or negative thoughts, words, or actions. Meaning, if you lack the self-esteem to think that you deserve that promotion, partner, or project, the energy surrounding your wish will be tainted. Positivity isn’t a mere smile. It’s an entrenched sense of confidence, a belief in good luck, and an in-depth understanding of just how powerful gratitude can be.
-If we extend love, inclusion, and compassion at all times to all people, we are—to put it succinctly—operating on the same agenda as the Universe.
You might define this as God; others as a Higher Power. The noun is less important than the meaning: What matters is that we function with empathy and the greater good of mankind at the forefront of our minds.
-When we’re tuned into the Universe’s agenda and when we work to improve our lives and those of others, we’ll be rewarded in ways that need no external reinforcement.
It may sound contradictory, but happiness is internal—and often that satisfaction comes through service. To others, yes, but also to ourselves. Think of your worst days in the last month. Most likely, those days were filled with self-sabotaging behavior, arguments with loved ones, and negative self-talk. By consistently putting that damn ego aside and seeing what’s right—principles over pleasure, if you will—you’ll find an unshakable sense of well-being that’s not the least bit dependent on circumstances.
-Vibrating at a higher frequency brings us closer to the divine, however you define it.
Ever wonder why we say ohm in yoga? When we vibrate at a higher level—when we send out a wish of peace for ourselves and others—our desires manifest. In these moments, we’re working on a higher plane that’s tapped into the energy of the Universe.
-Patience is key.
We cannot demand change or improvement for ourselves and others and expect magic to happen at the snap of our fingers. The Universe needs time to catch up with what we need; it also, I’m convinced, wants to make sure that it comes at a time and place in which we’ll fully appreciate it.
-Which brings me to my next point: Gratitude lists aren’t hokey tasks generated in self-help circles.
To consistently thank the Universe for its kindness, mercy, and beauty is to open up a pathway where it feels compelled to give you more. Walk around taking everything for granted and you’ll likely have little to thank. It really is as simple as that.
Convinced all of this is woo-hoo gibberish? At one point, so did I. So I tested out these theories by doing the complete opposite of what’s just been suggested. For two days, I let every errant and ornery thought that crossed my mind determine my mood and the way I acted towards others. The weather was too hot? I blamed my ex-husband. (Why not?) Running late? It was the barista’s fault for moving too slowly making my cappuccino. Slow to receive an email response? I was a worthless human being; no one loved me. Such misery was reflected right back to me—and then some. (And for the record, I received not a single invitation or piece of good news during this time.)
On the third day, I purposely shifted my thoughts. After a short meditation, I chose to look at life with the one thing that truly keeps the world going: Love. Raining? The sound and smell of it was quite gorgeous, and the flowers needed it to grow. Delayed in traffic? I probably needed to catch up on NPR. Upset with the shape of my legs? Why, they’ve carried me so many, many miles. The effects from my shift in thinking were immediate, from the minor (I found a new pair of blue Nikes for my blistered feet immediately after leaving the gym) to the major (I reconciled with a friend I’d had a falling out with years before).
Deepak Chopra—a renowned doctor and incredible author who left traditional Western medicine to explore spirituality—tells us that we are both givers and recipients of truth, freedom, and love, and that the path to joy and happiness comes down to three simple steps:
- Experience the things you value most. That means staying in the present and relishing every interaction that reminds us why we’re alive, whether it’s a conversation with our granddaughter, a cup of coffee on a cool morning, or a glimpse of nature that reaffirms the boundless beauty of this world.
- Ask inside for more. Not more untenable chatter—those thoughts that can give us the spins and rarely lead to actual action—but more internal more silence. The unfoldment of true self, Chopra explains, is a level in the mind where silence dominates. It is in that quiet that we stop being “dominated by fear, guilt, and other forms of inner pain” and instead feel a silent “steady state…From this state blossoms a sense of well-being and a feeling that you are safe. If you remain on the path and keep experiencing inner silence, peace dawns and then joy and bliss.”
- Listen for the response your true self gives you and that will guide you to your next step. This is intuition—one of the most significant and trustworthy tools we can hone. Give in to it. It has your best, most heartfelt interests in mind.
As we begin to understand how the energy that makes up the world is not ours to manipulate and keep but is meant to flow through us for the greater good of the world, we can expose our natural gifts, live as one, and experience genuine well-being. It is from this place that we can rest in the certainty that as long as we keep to the same agenda as the Universe’s by practicing love towards ourselves and all other species, it will give back to us in spades. And it is from there that we should all bow down and offer our sincerest thanks.