The ego, the big bad wolf, the thing some spiritual circles try to get rid of, the evil machine that controls us, the thing that starts wars, makes us addicted to outer beauty... yes the ego.
But what about the ego that propels us forward, makes changes, puts our name in lights, gets the word out about what we do? What about that ego?
Talking with a good friend over a beer this evening, we were having a good old catch up and talking about ego, especially in spiritual circles and how it appears to be really hard for people in teaching roles to be free of ego. The ego comes in the back door and we can so easily become deeply identified with the role of healer, teacher, coach, speaker, that we forget the truth of who we are, the wholeness of our being.
We came to the conclusion that not only can you not meet a circle or organisation in a spiritual setting without ego (unless you are blessed with the Buddha or someone who has transcended ego), but also that we have something to learn from people who utilise their egos in a wise and practical way.
Yes we follow our hearts, yes we follow our passions, but the very egoic sense of self and personality is human, and to be seen, to be unveiled, to get our hearts out there, we need to wear the cloak of the ego and sell our wares, shine our light and feel safe to be seen.
I have now swung to both sides of the pendulum on this subject. Many years ago I was deeply identified with labels and roles. My ego loved saying I was a Reiki healing channel, but I did resist saying I was a master, I hated that label. I have carried many labels from editor, business woman to writer and this past few years I swung to the extreme of label-less, yet by default I labelled myself as beyond labels. See how the ego comes in the back door?
I cringed and found it so hard to say 'Hey I am a reiki channel... or Hey I'm a published author and writer'... In my eyes, little income from what I did meant that these labels were meaningless, but I also understood that those roles were not who I am.
Yet not labelling meant not marketing myself, meant not selling who I was, meant not allowing myself to be seen.
Finding A Balance
Since joining an organisation called The Wellness Universe I have learned through the members that it is more than okay to sell my wares, to share my light and to put myself 'out there'. Pride does not mean I am drowning in my ego, I am simply utilising the ego/personality to express who I am.
This is still not easy for me. It is a new experience. I don't feel I will ever be as brash as some American style sales personalities, because let's face it we Brits abhor major sales pitches. Most of us cringe at the loudness of advertising coming over from the States because we were never brought up in this way of self expressing.
In the UK, success is not celebrated, failure is. But where the UK has leaned more to admonishing success, I also feel that the US has over emphasised the 'happy - positive -success' too far.
It's all about balance. We Brits need to learn how to sell ourselves and be successful in whatever gifts we are sharing with this world, but the US sales machine needs to understand that by emphasising primarily positive happy successful people, anyone who doesn't match this would feel less than. We can learn from one another in both expression and quieter sharing.
Balance is the key.
So what can we learn here?
1. It's okay to share our talents.
2. It's okay to be proud of what we do.
3. Failures are simply periods of growth and we can learn from them.
4. To publicly be a teacher, life coach, healer.. we need to be business savvy as well as spiritually based. Spiritual is business too, but practicalities are important.
5. Networking with people in your field is important.
6. Supporting others who are marketing themselves is great encouragement for them and also helps you be more open to marketing yourself and loving what you do.
7. If you are a teacher, take an interest in your students or those in your group. Keep your ego in check and make sure your own desires don't overshadow the good of the group.
8. Listen to others and learn from them. Try not to keep your vision limited to your own ideas. Other people have a wealth of experience we can all learn from.
9. There is wisdom in learning that those we envy can teach us by their example. Watch what they do and if it works try it.
10. Never lose the beginner's mind.
One thing I am slowly learning (emphasis on slow), is that we Brits were raised to keep a stiff upper lip, to hide our emotions and to generally not brag or boast. Americans have been inundated with advertising and with a way of life we Brits have never known. So to us, to receive overt sales pitches feels intrusive, but to the US marketplace it is the norm. Please feel free to disagree in the comments because I can only say what it's like from my British perspective.
It's such a learning curve being seen. And more than anything feeling safe to be seen.
How do you feel being seen?