Who has two thumbs and will spend all day obsessing over an argument, complete with impassioned speeches in the shower plus all the awesome zingers she sh-/c-/would have said but couldn’t think of in time?
This crazy-making ritual is broken up by the occasional moment of clarity–Why am I punishing myself??
Then I quietly resume showercrying.
All day my mind will be pulled back into this fight, no matter how I try to distract myself. Eventually, I can usually accept that it’s fear, come to collect again. And be clear: “fear” is the source of all energy-draining behaviors, ie doubt, procrastination, anger, sadness, showercrying. Whenever I’m ruminating over an impossible family member or a terse reply from a cashier (Don’t say “Have a nice day” like that!), that’s fear AKA ego. It’s the fear of not showing up how I wanted, not protecting the integrity of my self-image.
And when you see it like that, it’s not such a hard fix. Oh, it’s just my brain on auto-pilot initiating its self-protection mechanism. But since I’m in control, and not my brain, I can just shut it down, right? RIGHT?!!?! 😖
So…actually, it *is* kind of hard. Like, the hardest thing you’ll do in your life. The ego makes its living by giving you the tools you think you need to survive, based on an outdated blueprint, ie old beliefs you haven’t shaken loose, messages from society that crawled up there somehow.
Now while it’s the ego’s job to protect you — and here’s the rub — the ego isn’t concerned with peace, just self-preservation. So even though I feel justified, I still don’t feel good. (More on the emptiness of justice in another post.) This is why the egoic mind and your higher self are at odds — the ego wants to judge you into rightness, and the soul knows you’re good enough/worthy/badass just as you are and doesn’t need to keep replaying a highlight reel to convince itself. By allowing myself to return to the conflict even for a second just to get a fresh toke of righteous indignation, I’m reinjuring myself and moving away from a place of peace, the source of all of my power.
So why put myself through it? Well, we learned, at some point, that if you’re wronged, the proper response is to *feel* wronged. And the more wronged I feel, the more right I feel. Be honest: there’s something particularly tasty about righteous anger. You shouldn’t have talked to me like that. You agreed not to play your music before noon. We made these plans a week ago and I gave you ample opportunities to back out all week. Seriously, what did you mean by “Have a nice day”?!!
So while it’s clear that fear in large quantities (like sugar! 🙋) is detrimental to us (🙍), we don’t willfully engage in any behavior that doesn’t serve us somehow. I get some sense of moral superiority by winning these spats, even if they’re imaginary spats that are never resolved. Even if they’re not spats, but gripes I’ve had for years. (Gotta keep those grievances fresh so I can pull ’em out of the Way Back Machine next time we get into it.) I think this is especially difficult with regard to family members, who society tells us to love unconditionally, which somehow turns into accepting treatment we wouldn’t accept from anybody else. It’s basically the treatment we signed up for before we knew our boundaries, or before we were old enough to even be allowed boundaries. If you’re anything like me, you remember situations when your “rightness” went unacknowledged from yeeeears ago. This gets bottled up and drunk as fresh resentment every time an opportunity presents itself. I didn’t return your call? Well you never came to my choir recitals!!! Even when I had a solo!!! 👏 (The ego’s really excited about this outburst.)
Your brain will always have the ego on autopilot, I’m told, but you can get better at discerning whether to internalize and strengthen those beliefs or let them go and move onto a new moment.
“…but I think it’s about forgiveness.”
I think we have to forgive ourselves for not having the perfect snappy retort. For not saying the right thing in the moment. For not having our own backs in the moment, and waiting until the next day, or aaaall day later that day, to replay what we should have said or how we should have felt. You’re still good enough, worthy, badass — just as you are — even if you were passed over, or unacknowledged, or wronged. Yes, forgive that person who hurt you — or, let go of the hope that the past could have been any different (credit: Gerald Jampolsky). But forgive yourself, too. Stop judging yourself. And for godsakes, stop shoulding all over yourself (credit: Carrie Bradshaw).