What could a person possibly gain from insecurity? What could be the reward of feeling undeserving? Why would we harbor low self-esteem? Why do we think against ourselves? These states are not natural to our essence or inner being, so why… where did the urge to give away our power come from?
I grew up in the American Midwest, in a place where people worked very hard for not a lot of reward. And yet, I can’t remember a single instance of a farmer saying ‘I deserve’ a better life. Everyone I knew behaved as if self-denial was humble and spiritual and a sign of goodness, and ‘I deserve’ was presumptuous and greedy.
It’s the ego that makes these comparisons. Ego identity comes with the situation we’re born into, formed by interacting with who and what is in our world, and by what works for us as we go out into our world. It’s the character we think we are, the separate I and me, as we deal with others.
This is just a guess, but I’m thinking the inferior ego of my early upbringing could be a very old pattern, related to the class system. These farming families are descendants of European immigrants, pioneers to the Midwest. They brought their cultures, Christian religion and languages with them, as well as their ideas about who they are, collectively.
Their story: “We are from peasants and fishermen. We believe that it is virtuous to ask for nothing, and that nothing is deserved. Everything must be earned by dedicated hard work, belief in God, cooperation with authority, and acceptance of the hard realities of life. If we live right, the reward will come, if not here, then after death.”
This is definitely a ‘system approved’ mindset, and it even sounds kind of high-minded, doesn’t it?
That’s the cultural womb in which I developed. When I left the farm for the much different big city, I had nothing to go on but my flawed goodness, self-critical inner voice, and insecurity. It’s such a relief to look back on situations and choices, realizing that ‘inferiority’ was the set-up. This is deep conditioning, and as I look at it now, it explains a lot about how and why we suffer.
There are many avenues to inferior ego, and class is just one. It’s amazing, when you think about it… the incoming messages telling us how, for this reason or that reason, we are flawed in comparison to others. Of course if the messages are trans-generational they not only hit home, they’re firmly established as normal and natural. We develop thought patterns and emotions around them, and ways of coping.
Ego is concerned with ‘something for me’, so the ways of coping would grant the ego ‘something’. What is there to gain from doubting oneself? Avoidance of confrontation – that’s a biggie. Then we have hidden pride in one’s humbleness and sacrifice. Fitting the description of what God wants is another. There’s also the opportunity to endlessly think about ourselves because there is so much to fix.
If you’re into New Age, you may decide that by sufficiently putting yourself down it means you’ve gotten rid of the ego. At this point the flipside can show up and you become ‘superior’ at manifesting the soul. Badness gone, goodness here, I am nothing… let me become a teacher. Hopefully if that happens, the dishonesty in it will be felt, and you’ll look for the exit, pronto.
Obviously ego is not going to get rid of the ego… which is a fruitless effort in itself. We can’t rid ourselves of the ego, nor should we try. We can see its doings, notice what it’s saying, feel it when it fires up the emotions, sit it back down, and make sure our decisions come from the heart. Ego has a place, just not as the driver. It’s a great relief, that day when you notice the ego’s not significant enough to get in the way anymore. The heart is being called in to make decisions.
It took a long time for me to see how I had embraced inferiority and that I was conditioned to give my power away. Thankfully, painful experiences sent me in the direction of self-knowledge and expansion of consciousness. Into my world came great books, teachers, healers and wise friends, and the thought… I deserve to be ‘not this miserable’. That was the beginning.
By the way, we can tell the difference between when the ego says ‘I deserve’ and when the heart says ‘I deserve’. I think realizing this is key. Relating it to myself, fear that I’d be deemed a bad person, or that my choices would be self-serving and harmful to others, kept me in insecurity for quite a while. I wonder how many of us have experienced this. I suspect quite a few.
We don’t need to apologize for having an ego, and for its identity being formed by the conditioning we experienced. That’s part of life on earth. We live and grow, and uncover our connection to Source experience by experience. By the time we begin to make heart-based decisions, the conditioning will have much less effect, and the ego will be diminished and diminishing. It’s a beautiful thing when we can see the way to our true selves… that full, all-inclusive, ‘divinity within’ human being.
I wouldn’t bring this up and share it if it hadn’t been vital to my own expansion of consciousness and possibly helpful to you: loving ourselves is step one on the heart-centered path. “I deserve to be loved,” was an incredibly difficult statement for me to contemplate, and it took the following words to open the door: “And so I will begin by giving myself the love I deserve.”
Give yourself the love you deserve, give yourself the respect you deserve, give yourself the health, the appreciation, the kindness, the honor, the liberation from conditioning that you deserve. You are not ‘less than’ or unworthy. If there is a voice in your head that argues about your worthiness, know that it is the ego, and this opinion you can safely let go.
Heart-based decisions will never do harm. The heart is not the seat of sentimentality… it is the seat of courage and devotion to that which is sacred in us and in life. The intention of the heart is aligned with the highest good, which is love, and the highest good for ourselves translates into the highest good for all, including those close to us. This is your power: take it back.
In the heart we live for ourselves, not against. In so doing we can’t help but live for the world, intending and creating the world of beauty that we deserve.
About the Author
Ida Lawrence is an author, blogger, copywriter and editor based in Atlanta, Georgia. She has authored two books on racial justice and human rights, and numerous articles on human rights, self-empowerment and related subjects. Ida is also a certified Tai Chi instructor with a special interest in helping seniors and the disabled with Tai Chi and Chi Kung practices modified for their use. Her goal in life has been to find answers to the question of ‘why’ and then to explore the question of ‘what is’. More of her work is available at her personal blog, http://talk2momz.com/.
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