My Ego is in Charge!
In a rational universe, there can exist no contradictions. If you view a particular person or situation and expect a certain outcome, but then are faced with something entirely opposite, there are really only two options that explain the phenomenon.
- Your understanding of that person or situation was misguided
- Your definition of what constitutes “good” or “evil” (or whatever was the expected outcome) is misguided.
This manifests itself in a variety of different ways. A common scenario would be believing someone is a “good” person and finding out that he or she does not truly have your best interests at heart. Depending on the severity of the discovery, this can be a truly life shattering experience.
Take for example, the spouse who discovers the other having an affair. Not only is there the obvious hurt but the discoverer is often also faced with a complete destruction of what he or she believed to be true, about all aspects of life.
- Is my past a lie?
- I experienced all of these things with this person, but did I even know them?
- What am I going to do now?
- Was this an isolated incident or am I living with a complete stranger?
- Do I even know people at all?
You can see how this can quickly spiral out of control and lead to a complete breakdown. Past, present, future and sense of self are thrown into complete disarray.
It is common for the victims of bad actors to blame themselves or lose faith in all people and relationships because of the acts of one. As common and understandable as this is, it is not the best strategy for dealing with such personal crises.
Instead of accepting a situation for what it is, our ego will force us to hold on to our former perceptions. We can be so desperate to cling to that old belief that we confuse it with what is real and who we are. We elevate the situation to fit our beliefs about reality. If the devastation is great enough and our attachment to the ego is strong enough, it can be a devastation from which we cannot recover.
The first step to avoiding this avalanche of negative emotion is being able to rationally perceive the universe around you. This includes the people in it. I would recommend paying close attention to the actions of others, as opposed to their words or how we want them to be. People reveal who they are by what they do. This is nothing new. In Batman Begins, even Bruce Wayne is admonished that,
“it’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you.”
We have no reliable method of knowing a person’s “true intentions” and most of the time, the knowledge would be of little use anyway. This is precisely why the ability to rationally perceive is so important. You will have a more stable life if you consciously practice mindfulness and meditation, using them as tools to help you navigate your life. In order to do this, you have to let go of the ego, or how you want the world to be and learn to accept it for what it is.
Bad things happen. Good things happen.
We are confronted with people who mean us nothing but harm and if we are lucky, we are also exposed to individuals who want nothing but happiness and good for us.
The ego lies to you and convinces you that you have control over everything you are exposed to. When reality doesn’t match its perceptions, it fights for its own life to the detriment of your development and growth. Life is a journey and one of the biggest lies your ego tells you is that the tangible goals of that journey are what are most important.
You do not need to come to the end of the path to experience the benefits of walking the path
Ask any true martial artist and they will tell you that it is not the rank that is important. Rather, it is what you put into your practice and the path upon which you travel. Your meditation will teach you to live in the moment. You will learn to recognize negative emotions and people in your life and get away from them. More importantly, you will recognize the truly good in your life and live with some appreciation and gratitude. There is no question that we all face hardships. You cannot avoid that. However, there is no obvious requirement that you have to be miserable in your dealings with those hardships. Be mindful and meditate so that you can choose your response.