Ego in Love and Mindfulness to the Rescue

What is your ego in love? When we first “fall in love” with someone, we are often blissfully ignorant of the flaws of the individual. We have initially been attracted to them because they were cute, funny, smart, had a stable job, etc. Our egos were validated by the things they did for us, the attention they gave us, and how they “made us so happy.” But, overtime, what begins to happen? When we feel this person is no longer doing things to validate our ego, be begin to become resentful and hateful of a person we once adored.

Many of us are left at the end of a relationship questioning what went wrong when toxicity or infidelity was not to blame for its end. For these relationships, it can be much more difficult to pinpoint exactly what did go wrong, and we vaguely conclude, “they just weren’t the one for me” as reason for the relationship’s end.

However, can we argue the legitimacy of this statement and rebut that perhaps if we were a little more aware and mindful of our relationship throughout its duration, maybe we could have still been with this person we once adored?

Because we are often operating from a place of ego, where we expect the other partner to do the things we want them to do, say the things we want them to say, and know everything we are thinking at all times, when our ego is hurt and not validated, little things begin to annoy us and then begins the laundry list of reasons why this person is not good for us after all.

For example, a fight begins with the way the dishwasher is organized. We take this disheveled arrangement personally because we believe the person we love and care for so much should know how you like the dishwasher to be organized and any deviation from that expectation feels disrespectful to you. Since this is interpreted as an attack to our ego, we unconsciously react with cruel and regretful words, and as a result, contempt and anger begin to manifest in our relationship. Overtime, as we allow our egos to fully operate our relationship rather than our mindful awareness, we are not able to react in a more loving and understanding manner. Our bonds then begin to break down and eventually, we conclude our relationship that began as a hopeful, blissful romantic love story has no happily ever after.

We may even blame the other partner for the fall of our relationship, but each of us have a responsibility when we are in partnership with another, and if both partners are not committed to having a mindful relationship, it cannot thrive since ego will always be the driving factor of the satisfactory barometer for the relationship.

In a true mindful and loving relationship, the dishwasher situation might have been resolved in a more compassionate manner. Upon seeing the disheveled dish arrangement, the partner may still immediately feel annoyed (ego), but instead of acting on that feeling, he or she takes a moment to understand why this situation bothers them so much. He or she might think this means their partner does not listen to them, they do not care about what they think or are frustrated that they do not know what bothers them after all of these years but, upon recognizing the reasons for feeling so annoyed, a more mindful partner might be able to reason that their partner is not doing this to be malicious or disobey their word, but rather, they simply did not realize what they have done and did not realize how it would have impacted you. Understanding that what your partner has done was not personal or intentional should immediately allow for their annoyance to subside for the time being. In this space he or she is given time to understand and can now choose to react in a more mindful and appropriate manner. He or she can do this through having a compassionate and understanding conversation about the dishwasher arrangement, and have the partner become aware of how it makes you feel when the dishwasher is not arranged in a particular way and how important it is to you. This can then open up the opportunity to learn more about one another and communicate what each partner can do to have one another feel heard and respected.

Throughout the relationship, when you feel your ego has been triggered, take a moment to ask yourself why, and question whether there is something that your partner has intentionally done to make you feel a certain way, or if your reaction is simple a reflection of your own internal insecurities, trust issues, commitment phobia or attachment to expectations that have led to the disappointment. In committing to having a mindful romantic relationship with your partner, you commit to a life of reflection, understanding and compassion, and give your relationship the best chance to thrive in the long-run. 

 

26 Years… What I Know for Sure- 10 THINGS

So, today marks my 26th birthday, and in honor of that occasion, I thought it would be fun to reflect on some of the lessons I have learned over my 26 years of life thus far. We all evolve so much throughout the years that it is strange thinking back to different beliefs, habits, attitudes you may have held in adolescence or even just a year ago, which might differ completely now.

With inspiration from Oprah Winfrey’s book, What I Know for Sure. Here are the top 10 things that I know for sure (thus far). Hope someone else is able to get something out of it. Enjoy!

1.       It’s not what happens to you in life, it is how you CHOOSE to react to it.

We have a lot more control over our experiences in life than we give ourselves credit for. It is easy to blame “bad luck” or pity ourselves over a certain circumstance we most likely cannot control. So, instead of succumbing to the series of unfortunate events, perhaps, CHOOSE to be positive, own your circumstances, and move forward!

2.       You are always exactly where you are supposed to be.

This is a big lesson I have especially learned over the past year or so. Being in a career I am not super passionate about can make one feel anxious and stuck. But, having adopted this new mentality about where I am vs. where I want to be. I know I am taking small actions towards where I see myself, and in that we much ACCEPT where we are right now because NOW is all we truly have. We must let go of angst and let life guide us patiently through our course.

3.      Want only what you already have.

Many of us live our lives wanting more, more money, more status, more power, more things, and lose sight of all we already have. Being grateful for what we already have and wanting only that and nothing more is extremely humbling. We being to recognize that we have much more than most, and that is enough.

4.       The power of gratitude

I have been journaling what I am grateful for every day for a couple of years now, and I will tell you that it truly does put things in perspective. Having a gratitude journal forces you to reflect on all we have and all of the blessings in our life every day. It can be the smallest little things such as just waking up, having a moment to yourself, having the sun come out today, etc. Many of these small things we can take for granted, and writing them down every day prevents us from overlooking them.

5.       Acceptance is Love

For years I always wondered why I did not feel comfortable around most people, whether it was family, friends or random social settings. I always felt like there was something wrong with me because I was not the type to “click” with many people or make instant friends. I am a self-proclaimed introvert and for years I tried to force myself into a position as an extrovert and fit it. As I grew up I started to understand why the only people I felt genuinely comfortable around was my immediate family, and it was because I trusted that they accepted me. Since I was not yet in a position of fully accepting myself, there was no way I could feel like someone else could be so accepting of me even if they were. On the flip side of this realization, I began to truly be accepting of others in my life, whether they had strange quirks or annoyances, I would still without judgment to my best ability because all they truly want is what I want, acceptance. Then, I began to understand this acceptance as love. It is the most powerful thing we yearn for in life, to be loved, but put even more simply, to be accepted.

6.       The story we tell ourselves RUNS our life, so monitor that story and change the plot if it does not serve you.

Understanding our truth is not an overnight processes. We must recognize the various beliefs and identities we have held throughout the years and assess whether they are moving us forward or holding us back. These beliefs and identities run our lives, so it is important to check in to see what is serving us and what is not. Perhaps you have always identified as being “someone who doesn’t take risks,” so you move through life without ever taking a risk because “that’s not who you are.” Can we maybe question this identity to see if this is good enough reason to never take risks in life? Perhaps we miss out on a good opportunity because we hold this identity so dearly, and holds us back from making a positive change.

7.       Develop the habit of reading even if you don’t love it. Stay curious!

Growing up I was never a big reader, and even today, I don’t love reading books more than 300 pages. But, developing reading into a daily practice is beneficial for the present and future you. Reading allows us to open our minds up into new information and even brings to life a new mindset. As we grow older, we must continue to expand and grow our minds through activities such as reading in order to prevent the deterioration of the brain. In a world where mindless television and internet scrolling in the norm (I am guilty of it to) we need to implement a practice to at least somewhat offset these mindless moment through mindful practices.

8.       Meditation works.

The meditation and mindfulness movement has been growing tremendously over the years, and its benefits have been proven effective for hundreds of years, yet there is some doubt my many (including myself at one time) of its benefits. Over the past year I have been more religious in the adoption of a meditation practice in my own life, and please take it from me, it makes a difference. Overtime, you begin to notice that your mind does not wonder, overthink, dwell or worry about things as it had prior to this practice. Meditation allows for us to train our minds to focus on the present moment and manage distractions during and after the practice.

9.      We experience life through the lens of the mindset we carry.

Perhaps this is similar to the story we tell ourselves, but here I think I am going more for a thought about attitude. If we maintain a positive attitude throughout our days, we had a great day! If we wonder through life thinking the world is against us and everyone is evil, our world will be unpleasant. We can see this sort of idea play out in a circumstance, at work, for example. We might be performing the same job, same task in the same company as another person and they hate their job while you might love it! It’s the same circumstance experienced two completely different ways. Luckily! We have control over our own mindset and can choose to have a good day or not based on that attitude alone.

10.   WE define success, not time, not others, not accolades.

For years I talked about being “successful” “one day,” not fully understanding what success even meant to me. I knew what success meant to other people, having money, cars and status, perhaps, so like many of us, I owned this as my own definition. But was it? How did I define success? What did I want? Is it possible I am already successful? Can’t be! Well, to my surprise, I came to find out that success to me is exactly where I am right now. I might not be in the profession I want to be in, being as financially well-off as I want to be, etc, but in this moment I am success because of the way I define success. I define success as being able to support myself, my friends and my family whether financially (enough) or emotionally. I define success as making progress on personal development, my goals and my skills. I define success as doing the very best I can ALWAYS. Reminding ourselves that everyone is always doing the best they can, may really evoke empathy for one another. Perhaps they do not define success in the same way, but according to your definition, they are successful all the same, whether they know it or not.

Long post and very raw but I hope even one person was able to relate and maybe gain a new perspective from this. What I Know for Sure?… There is more to come. Enjoy!

Be Careful Not to Inherit the Conditionings of Others

I have spoken much about conditioning in this blog so I will not go on and on about the importance of recognizing our own conditionings, but the main objective of this post is to understand the conditionings of OTHERS before allowing for their conditioning to impact our own. We must begin to understand where people are coming from when they provide us with their own opinions before accepting them as fact.

Why do we take advice from others who are not in where we want to be in life? Unless we wish to live a similar life as the one providing advice, we must question its relevance to ourselves and what we are looking to accomplish. It is similar in questioning whether we would take financial advice from someone who has filed for bankruptcy a number of times. We simply would not do so. There are people in our lives who serve as resources for a variety of challenges, but not for all.

Many people who provide us with advice are sourcing their words straight from their conditionings. Their beliefs may have been handed down to them by their parents, by community, by friends and neighbors, who more than likely ended up in the same place. Now, these same individuals are making the effort to influence you with these same conditionings. By understanding their conditioned fears and how they played out in their lives, we can be empowered to make the choice to own this condition or not.

For example, if my father has always had a fear of losing his job, belief that working at a big corporation was the best career and was an extremely religious person, what would you expect of my beliefs? Without the awareness of these beliefs being HIS conditionings and not my own (YET), I am likely to inherit his same fears, lack of aspiration, and narrow-mindedness towards other religious beliefs or ideas other than his, and now my, own.

We will inherit conditionings inevitably without our knowledge, for many of them had been engrained at a young age, but as we grow older and gain an awareness of the origin of these conditionings and who/where/what they are coming from, we can take the power back to reject or accept them as we see fit.

“There’s Nothing to Fear But…” BLAH BLAH BLAH

As we approach the concluding months of the year, many of us creating our New Year’s resolutions. Some people might think these goals are silly, arguing, “Well, you can make a new goal at any time, so why wait for the New Year to start?” Of course, there is some truth to this statement, we should always be growing and challenging ourselves, however the New Year is a symbol of something fresh, a clean slate that provides people with the belief they can begin again. And to that, I say, “Hell yeah!”

In my own brief reflection of my 2018 goals regarding what I achieved and did not achieve, I have noticed many factors caused me to fall short on accomplishing many of them.

The greatest limitation I have discovered in myself had been fear. Throughout the year, fear manifested itself both in my professional and my personal life. Progressing through this fear in various situations felt as if I was trekking though muddy waters. These fears had layers to them, for I found there was never just a single fear felt in a given situation. These fears had fears and I was fearful of my fears. Eventually, this debilitating feeling would blow out the spark I may have felt only moments before. As a result, searched for comfort rather than taking action against these fears.

It is easy to recite FDR’s famous words, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself,” but it is quite another to truly believe it. Fears are created from our insecurities and conditioning resulting from past experiences and childhood. In our adult lives, as we begin to take on the world, striving to fulfill our goals, these fears begin to stand in the way of our goals. Our choices are to run or to face these fears, and our instinct is the easiest way out, right? To run. The most difficult challenge is pushing through these conditions, changing them, and no longer obliging to the fear they have created within us.

Thus far, I have found the strongest opponent to fear has been faith and acceptance of failure. How can we fear if we have such a strong faith or belief in something? We must trust that what we are setting out to do is authentic in the given moment and not question it and feel obligated to answer fear’s doubtful questions nagging in our minds. We must believe we have positive intent in our action and pursue it unafraid. Furthermore, we must build the muscle to accept failure, for what is the greatest fear instilled in most people? The fear of judgment. In accepting failure, we can accept our flaws and our mistakes, and maybe even learn from them. Though facing our fear sounds scary, it is a small sacrifice for a much greater reward.

The Choice to be Free

I hear the sound of my heart bumping through my ears at the same pace as I feel it pulsate against the balls of my feet.

I stand there, still, free from judgment of myself as I know no one is watching.

“I am beautiful. I am smart. I am bold. I am loving. I am kind. I am caring,”

Mantras I repeat to myself as I am erectly planted with my stems to the ground.

I sway as if in a slight wind, as I feel my body shift weight to one side of my body to the other.

I love being here.

A feeling of calm engrosses me with the exhale of every breath.

If I can stand here alone free from judgment, why can’t I stand in a populated area all the same?

Why am I timid to speak up in a group but have the gusto for constant debates with myself?

Why can I dance alone in an empty yoga room but I am frozen in the presence of others?

Why?

To be free from judgment of ourselves is to be free.

To be accepting of ourselves—insecurities, thoughts, and fears—is to be free.

Do I wish to live a life of freedom and wander, or would I rather be bound by my own mind, shackled in a room which has been hoarded with insecurities, thoughts and fears blocking the door out.

What is the choice?

 

How to Love the Job You Hate

I was thinking of expanding upon this topic at a later time because of how many people complain about their jobs more than anything. It is understandable! We spend 33% of our days, on average, in the workplace. If we are unhappy for 33% of our days and spend that time just waiting for the other 67% to come, we might as well try to make that 33% of time more satisfying.

Now, to begin, I do not hate my job, personally, but there WAS a time when I could not bear it.

So, what changed? My position? My company? Nope.

The answer is… I did.

Some of you may think your situation is unique. If anyone else had your job, they would hate it too, and there is no way your job can be as bad as theirs. Everyone’s experiences are relative so how can we possibly compare? What may be a great experience for you, may be a terrible experience for me. However, the one thing I think we can all settle on is having the feeling of dread getting ready for work in the morning, feeling that drop in your stomach when you realize it’s Sunday and Monday is creeping behind, or watching the clock with anxiety, frustrated that the time will not hurry the heck up!

If we can agree on all of those emotions, I think it is fair to say we all share in this experience.

Today, I am free from the feeling of dread in the morning, enjoy my sits in traffic to work and home, and I do look at the clock but I no longer curse that slow ticking hand.

I know it might sounds crazy but it also sounds pretty good, right? The good things is everyone has the capability of doing the same, but WE need to change!

So, Alex, that’s great and all but HOW do I change?

Good question. The solutions will vary depending on the person, but all I can share is what I did to change my perspective and ultimately changed my life.

This change came primarily with the adoption of two simple concepts: Self-awareness and Gratitude.

Making these a HABIT is critical in changing your way of thinking and your attitude towards everyday life.

First, having the self-awareness to understand the moments in the day that prompt a certain emotion is critical to making a change. Oftentimes we can all get caught up in this auto-pilot mode, where we react without reason.

For example, when I get a message from a frustrated, rude client who hurts my feelings, my initial, auto-pilot reaction is to tell them off and prove my point. However, this would indicate a lack of self-awareness. My self-aware self then brings reason into the equation. In this moment, I stop, reflect on the emotion I am feeling, which words exactly triggered this emotion, and be proactive about what the client’s response would be if I said something as a reaction rather than a reasoned response. Here, we might want to think twice. At the end of this reflection, most likely, I would resolve to keep it polite and professional. Here, I did not risk my reputation in the matter and felt I was the bigger person in the moment. Simply, “Not a problem. Have a nice night.” Not much too feel bad about after that response, huh?

The assessment of our emotions and our TYPICAL reactions to these emotions allows for us to make adjustments. How could we ever change our behaviors if we are never aware of them in the first place?

To assist in my quest for better self-awareness, I began journaling. While journaling, we are able to express our emotions on paper and read them back. Hmm, why did I feel that way? What can I do in my control to improve my reaction to this event that made me feel this way? Journaling provides us with an avenue to take a deeper dive to get to know ourselves better.

Second, gratitude. There is a Tony Robbins saying that I’m sure I have mentioned before, which I will paraphrase here. “It is impossible to feel sadness while also simultaneously expressing gratitude.” No matter how terrible a job might be, there is SOMETHING in this life I am sure you can find to be grateful for in those moments of frustration with your boss, annoyance with your co-worker, or confrontation with your client.

When you notice the feeling of worry or anxiety in the workday, think of that one person or thing that brings you joy and purpose for being alive and say, “Thank you.” That moment of anxiety just changed to joy by just doing that, if only for a brief moment. But, imagine how the accumulation of all of these brief moments of joy would improve your overall day experience.

Don’t allow for those 33% hours to be wasted in feelings of owe and frustration. Make something out of it! Again, this is a habit we are trying to establish within ourselves. So, the consistent and constant practice of self-awareness and gratitude will be crucial in the success of this how-to. Try these tips out every day for the next 30 days, and see if you notice a difference! Feel free to comment with your results. Enjoy!