The ego never has enough of anything, so if we listen to the ego, we will feel that we don’t have enough, even when we do. ~ Gina Lake
How often – even in the midst of a generally happy and comfortable life – are you aware of a sense of lack? Not enough time. Not enough money. Not enough appreciation or recognition for your efforts. It’s too hot, too cold, too short, too long. He’s not really reliable. Or he’s too reliable, and boring. She could be a little less picky. If only I were younger, prettier, luckier. (And on and on and on.)
To the ego, there’s always something missing. It’s basically the ego’s self-appointed job to point out what’s wrong – with you, with everyone else, with the world in general, and this moment in particular. That’s how the ego stays in business: by creating problems, which it can then attempt to solve. And if it can’t solve them, at least it has something to complain about. Either way is a win for the ego, because it captures your attention and keeps you involved with your thoughts and judgments about the world rather than simply experiencing it as it is.
The mind (ego) is a judgment-producing machine, and usually the judgments are negative. It’s like having Debbie Downer as a continuous voice-over in your head, but we’re so used to it, and so conditioned to believe that these judgments are ours and therefore important (and correct), that we simply accept them as the truth. We identify with that voice in our heads, give it our attention, and believe what it’s saying. And suffer because of it.
But there’s another way to experience life. When we focus on what’s missing, we miss what’s actually present. All the wonderful qualities – of a person, place, situation, moment in time – are ignored in favor of the one thing (or many) that we wish were different. Underneath that voice of discontent is another, very quiet voice that is humming with contentment.
The only way to hear that voice is to turn down the volume of the ego’s constant complaints and judgments. You’ll never do away with them completely; they’re the nature of the mind. But when you see them for what they are – just thoughts, and not very helpful ones at that – it becomes possible to step back just a bit from them. This is how you dis-identify with the ego. You don’t kill it or “transcend” it or make it go away. You just stop listening to it so fervently and automatically believing what it says.
Learn to recognize the “channel” in your mind where the ego is constantly running its negative commentary. When you notice that you’re listening to it, simply call it out for what it is – Ego. The more you do this, the easier it is to tune in to the other voice, the one that says:
Everything you need to be happy is present in this moment. Nothing is missing.