the “I” or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought. (from dictionary.com)
Ever since we first begin to see ourselves as separate, sentient beings in childhood, our egos define how we interpret the world around us. That sense of self may actually be holding you back from healing from your divorce. Do you see yourself in any of the following patterns?
It’s All About Me
When I first realized the extent of my husband’s betrayals, I kept asking, “How could he do this to me? To the one he was supposed to love?” I saw his actions directed towards me as an arrow towards a target. I assumed he was thinking about me as he made these decisions. He lied to me. He cheated on me. He stole from me. That pattern kept me fully anchored in a victim state, the recipient of all the pain and deceptions.
Slowly, I realized that it wasn’t all about me. He lied and cheated and stole, yes. But he did those things because of whatever demons had him in their grasp. He didn’t do those things because of me. He most likely wasn’t even thinking of me while they occurred. He did them and I was in the way.
I shifted my thinking. When he hurt me, he was acting to protect his own sense of self rather than trying to wound mine. I began to let the anger go.
It is not easy to remove the ego from interpreting the actions of one so intimate to you. Try looking at the situation with an open mind, letting go of your own ego, and see how your perspective shifts.
The Reflective Ego Shield
Our egos are vulnerable beings; they often cover themselves in highly reflective shields, deflecting any criticism and shining it back at its source. I used to get very defensive when anyone suggested that I had a hand in my husband’s actions. I would retaliate, lashing out at them as I tightened the stays on the armor protecting my ego. It was a very scary proposition to let some of that armor go and to examine what was shielded underneath. I learned the role that my own insecurities and anxieties played in the end of my marriage. Instead of reflecting all of the responsibility on him, I took my share.
There is a difference between taking responsibility for your own actions and taking the blame for another’s actions. If you are carrying your own reflective shield, try lowering it and examining what lies beneath.
The Hidden Wounds
The ego doesn’t like to show its vulnerabilities. When asked, “How are you doing?,” the ego always answers, “Fine.”
I remember how many times I falsely spoke that word in those early months. Much of that time, I wasn’t “fine,” I was angry, sad, bitter, anxious, sick, and disconnected. But I also didn’t want to reveal those wounds. To let the world see the depth of my pain. I kept it covered with a band-aid of “fine.”
Your wounds cannot heal unless they are exposed to the air. The bandage can remain on to protect your injuries from the world at large, but you remove them when are in a safe place to let the healing begin.
Ego as Strongman
Our egos are a bit like young meatheads in a gym. Flexing in the mirror, wanting to appear strong and capable amongst the others. This means that sometimes we will try to lift more than we can without asking for assistance. And, just like in the weight room, this can only lead to disaster.
Prior to my husband’s David Copperfield act, I was horrible at asking for and receiving assistance. In fact, that was actually one of the points of contentions in my marriage; I always made it clear that I could do it alone. I guess he wanted to prove me right. Regardless, I made things so much more difficult than they ever needed to be by denying offered help and refusing to ask for help when it was needed.
Are you acting like the young man in the gym? Ask for a spotter and you’ll not only gain the respect of those around you, but you will also be able to lift more than you ever thought possible.
Our egos tend to operate below our conscious thought. After all, they are us. And they are often the biggest barriers in our way.