It’s Not…when you use it properly
About 20 years ago I bought my first self-help book. Back then, the genre was pejoratively referred to as “Pop Psychology” and it wasn’t as popular or socially acceptable as it is now.
The book was “Choosing Success. Transactional analysis on the Job” by Dorothy Jongeward. I read it secretly. I would have been too embarrassed to be caught reading that kind of book. I could only imagine the comments of my mates: ”Oh You want to be Mr successful, I hope you remember us when you become a big shot” and things like that. That is one of the big barriers to personal development: your social circle. But more on that later.
I read the book with a mixture of curiosity and skepticism. It was great, it opened my eyes to several self-imposed obstacles that we all use to sabotage ourselves.
It could have been because I was young and impressionable, or because it was my first book on that subject, or because it is a good book, the thing is it made a great mark on me.
I was transformed overnight; I became focussed, determined, aware, sociable, optimistic and confident. I set up goals and I achieved them in no time. I was on a roll. Nothing was going to stop me!
That lasted for about 3 months.
What happened? Why didn’t I keep it up if it was so good?
I have asked myself that question many times for years and there is only one answer:
Ego is the enemy
My Ego has been with me all my life and let me tell you; it’s a stubborn madafaka.
The subconscious mind is full of deep-rooted scripts that have been there since the beginning, and the Ego wasn’t gonna let no book change those scripts overnight without putting up a fight.
The thing is, “I” wanted to change desperately, but when I say “I” I mean my conscious mind, my prefrontal cortex, the one I use on those few occasions when I am rational.
But there is the other part — the subconscious — that part of the mind we have no access to and yet, it’s the one running the show. Every important decision you have made in your life has been made by your subconscious and the deep-rooted scripts that have been planted there.
Your early experiences in life determine who you fall in love with, what career you pursue, whether you are lazy or driven, motivated or dull, optimistic or pessimistic. Something you didn’t choose, don’t agree with and can’t change is literally running your life.
It’s a raw deal
The ego is the guardian that protects the subconscious mind by putting up a big barrier to stop you from going there and change any of the scripts.
How does the ego operates?
The ego is very subtle but relentless, it keeps chipping away at you every day in order to protect your identity. Except… it’s not your real identity, it’s been planted.
Before I read the book I was insecure, apathetic, shy, and pessimistic. That was my script, my false identity. I managed to put that script on hold for about 3 months but the voice in my head kept saying:
“What are you doing?”
“Who are you trying to fool?”
“You’ll never pull this off!”
“Let’s go back to your usual self, it’s cosy there”
That was the ego’s voice
That little voice reminds you of your identity and push you to go back to it.
- If you identify as a smoker, you won’t be able to quit
- If you identify as an alcoholic, you will keep drinking
- If you identify as obese, you will keep and increase your weight
- If you have a shy, fearful and lazy identity you won’t be able to change
You kill your ego
And then go deep into the subconscious and change your identity.
Simple as that.
How to kill your Ego
The ego can only be killed with daily meditation and awareness.
Meditation silences the voice in your head that comes from the ego. It also helps in developing awareness. When you are aware, you can observe your mind and decide which thoughts are yours and which are your ego’s.
Let’s say you have decided to quit bread. You manage for a couple of days but then you go to a restaurant and everybody is eating it. You hear that little voice again: ”come on , just one, it won’t harm you, it’s nice”
When you have trained your mind with meditation and awareness, you will automatically recognize it as your ego being cunning. Then you let it go, don’t act on it, don’t get angry, just let it be. By doing that you’ll be able to stop the script that is trying to hurt you.
Ego is the enemy
Always keep in mind that your ego it’s not you. That little voice in your head is not your voice. Keep watching it and it will go away. If you let it live, you are dead.
So, It’s Self-Help useless?
No, not at all. But it’s not enough, you have to do the work.
Self-Help is the map — the guide to show you the way- but then you have to do the work to change those scripts in your mind, and that takes perseverance.
If you just read some psychology books, get high and then do nothing about it, you won’t get anywhere. You might as well not bother.
Self-realization is extremely hard, I’ve been trying it for more than 20 years and I’m still only halfway through. But it’s totally worth it. I can see other people working 9 to 5, frustrated, sad, slaves to a system that doesn’t deliver but keep them fearful and dependent. They are not even aware that there are other possibilities, that there is freedom, that there is passion and that there is meaning outside the cubicle. Their ego doesn’t let them see.
Personal change is not for everybody, most people don’t try and even discouraged others from trying. When they see somebody escaping from their mental prison they feel threatened, they can no longer justify their apathy and they run out of excuses. It’s very painful to admit that you have settled for a mediocre life when deep down you knew there were other possibilities. Now, they feel comfortable, lazy and scared so they keep working for a few more years hoping they will finally enjoy life when they retire. Wishful thinking.
But there is another option and it will deliver results if you stay the course and get rid of the ego.
Are you one of the few chosen? Since you read this far I think you might be.
Welcome to the club. Now do the work.
See you at the other side.