CHAPTER 30, IN WHICH WE HEAR ABOUT FRIGMUND SEUD, AND DISCUSS LIGHTNING’S ATTEMPT AT PLAYING FOOTBALL.
Today, Lightning and Vince are talking about the Ego…not in the clinical sense, but in the way we use the term in our everyday language. The ego is simply how we understand ourselves. The ego is our self perception. Vince and Lightning each shared some elements of their identity.
Often in life, each of us finds ourself in a situation where it becomes clear that someone else’s perception of me doesn’t align with my perception of me. This creates a crisis moment. I believe I am a hard worker, but my co-worker is criticizing my lack of preparation for a meeting. That co-worker doesn’t believe that I am a hard worker, and my ego is threatened. In these crisis moments, a person may do several things to save the ego:defend himself, dismiss the criticizer, blame someone or something else, disengage from the situation or ask for an apology.
We do this because it is so difficult to change our self-perception. Many of us can only like ourselves when others like us. When our identity is threatened, we lash out because we want to be valued by other people. We have a great fear of being without identity.
Sometimes, when we realize that our self-perception doesn’t line up with someone else’s perception of us, we say that our feelings have been hurt. When this happens, instead of considering how these words may be true, we ask the other person the apologize.
Living in a way in which I have to uphold and protect my ego is not a quiet inner life. It is a loud and nagging existence. A sign of increasing maturity, and a quieter way to live, is disempowering your ego. Learn to let go of your high view of yourself. Welcome critique and feedback. Work to get to a state where your perception is so aligned with reality that no one’s words are“hurtful” to you any longer. Lightning wants to get to a place where he doesn’t need to defend, dismiss, blame or disengage, but that requires the death of his ego.
Lightning suggested a number of ways to undercut the ego in order to live a more quiet inner life.
First, establish regular practices of telling on yourself. Live in community so that you can tell the truth about your motives, your performance and your needs… and still be loved.
Second, Lightning recommends therapy as a great way to understand your motives better.
Third, travel to places where you are not a member of the dominant culture. Missions trips often have a profoundly humbling effect on those who go to serve.
Fourth, take up a hobby that you are not good at. Struggling without succeeding is a spiritual practice.
Vince closed the conversation with this quote from Richard Rohr: What the ego (the False Self) hates and fears more than anything else is change. It will think up a thousand other things to be concerned about or be moralistic about—anything rather than giving up who I think I am and who I need to be to look good.
STUFF THEY MENTIONED THAT IS WORTH CHECKING OUT
The church that Vince co-leads: Brown Line Vineyard