Part of my work in the world is to strive toward honesty and humility and to take responsibility for my actions. This means owning up where the owning up is due. It means working in relationships to permeate my own fortress of fear. It encompasses being able to actually see what someone else is seeing and take it at face value instead of personally.
I have about three things whirling through my thoughts and feelings this morning in light of a fleeting incident a few days ago. One is about working in a spiritually responsible way in the the messy lives we live. The second is the ability to take responsibility for one’s actions, feelings, and personal experience. The third thing is asking and studying why such unworthiness floods forth in us as a triggered response.
I recently posted something about the hardest part of awareness and greater consciousness is working through personal relationships and partnerships to allow understanding and flow. Sometimes a life partner is able to have a perspective that no one else can, simply because they have known you intimately and for a said period of time.
My husband pointed out some of my behavior just after a dinner and it was so hard for my ego to process and accept. It sent me into a tailspin of self loathing and shame and fortunately because of years of doing this work, I was able to step back after a short time.
But that was an hellacious short time.
I first had to accept and even evaluate my husband’s level of objectivity, and that can start me down the slippery slope of not taking responsibility for my actions. It is something I have known well throughout my life. Perhaps you too have become familiar with your own ego’s shenanigans. I could make excuses or deny even the possibility of wrongdoing, but here and now I sat with the possibility.
I suddenly was immersed in knowing he was right and watched my ego place me on the whipping post. For my ego, it is always extreme and dire. It will go to the point of wanting to die for a fleeting 30 seconds until I careen myself back to reason, knowing that “it” is having a hayday. A hayday used to be haydays in which I would have to numb the shame with unsavory behavior while simultaneously overachieving to prove myself worthy in my Ego’s eyes.
Now it was just a hay-minute, but nevertheless, real enough to remember the flavor of a phenomenon that has recurred over and over for me in this lifetime. In fact, swaths of my life have been dedicated to blurring the lines of why I was feeling so shameful and awful. It was a long term state from which I would rarely wake up.
It feels the opposite now, where here was a chance where I momentarily dipped into that chaotic, shameful and unworthy feeling. I knew he was right. I had to digest it, accept it, and then feel the darkness overcome me. It was in this moment that I could say honestly to him why I was behaving the way I was and not justify it. I knew where it was coming from.
The difference was that I could see the suffering point that ignited the behavior in me.
I knew on all levels where it came from and what it was, so I could accept it within myself. It was the way I could let myself off the hook, accept the mistake, and move on.
I no longer have to swim upstream in shame as I did for so much of my life.
I can with difficulty say “I’m sorry”.
But it still took some time.
My Ego is hard pressed to not accept that I have done something wrong and clearly sees no way out but to severely punish who I am. Old patterns die hard and so this was a breakthrough moment where I fought to accept what I had done. I listened and as hard as it was, I heard his perspective.
I had to force myself to accept that he could be right.
If I can accept that what he is experiencing bears some truth then I am not only acknowledging his experience but also gaining access to what I don’t see.
The Work is all about learning to take responsibility for our experience, no matter what it is. We work to be able to see something objectively and that is a huge challenge. We don’t dismiss what someone may be experiencing in regard to us, and simultaneously we must evaluate its truth from our own experience. That is all we can know.
We have to discern what is happening within ourselves.
If my Ego is in complete control, it cannot accept that I am fallible or responsible. It will lay blame everywhere. Blaming someone else is how it deflects responsibility. Justifying any kind of behavior is also powerful ammunition. Justification and blame bolster the fragility, insecurity, pain and fear that birthed the unskillful behavior.
It will also chalk everything up to someone else’s projection. It becomes something someone else doesn’t see instead of us.
So for the Ego, we are either faultless or full of fault and no in between.
Without analyzing anything in that said moment after dinner, I saw “it” in action and it felt so real, so pitiful, and so very fragile.
I made a mistake. It was pointed out to me. My ego had a hay-moment and in that I got to see my own insecurity.
I also see how The Work has helped me to be able to experience this, and I am grateful.
Another day in the life…
Let me know how you are doing this week.