Tag Archives: control

Lessons of the Ego

Reflection

“What has the face of the ego taught you? Which of its aspects are you still struggling with: fear, attachment, control, entitlement, or the need to be special?” The Second Half of Life, Angeles Arrien

Hello ego, you are obviously still my best friend.

Well, this reflection isn’t about having eradicated these aspects of myself. It is about what I have learned, isn’t it? I could probably write an entire post about each of these. But, instead I am capsulizing my thoughts.

Fear: Here I am again, a seven on the enneagram, a part of the thinking triad which experiences a great deal of fear and anxiety. Knowledge is the first step, however, and I am aware. I question my motivations when I am scurrying about – distracting myself. What am I dreading? What is it that I am avoiding and why?

Attachment: One of my highest levels of work at this time in my life is to detach in a healthy way…without distancing. Attachment to things? Well, I am losing that gradually. “Stuff” becomes so much less important to my life. It is my attachment to outcome that is my greater struggle. How to be open to the mystery (per Richard Rohr) is a lesson I am trying to learn.

Control: Well, there’s that attachment to outcome again, isn’t it? I have lived a long life as a control freak and can only say that I am stepping back from that role in baby steps.

Entitlement: This is not an easy reflection. I believe that as a white woman my entitlement is so deep as to be invisible to me. I don’t see myself with the outward manifestations of entitlement. I certainly am not demanding to the detriment of others, I don’t consider myself better than; but I am constantly scouring my thoughts regarding ingrained racism, biases against groups, belief systems, etc. Entitlement at any level can’t help but be gained at the expense of another.

Need to be special: Another trap of my enneagram type. It’s hard to see myself as ordinary. This trap grips me the tightest and holds me back in my progress. I don’t need to stand out, necessarily. It isn’t always attention that I seek. I clearly want to stand apart, however. I want to be smart, capable, stylish, well-versed…the list goes on. Okay, I know my assignment here!

The Student

*The Thinking Triad: “Types 5, 6 and 7 ….Underneath their ego defenses these types carry a great deal of fear.” The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Riso and Hudson

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Filed under Angeles Arríen, Point Seven - The Epicure, Reflections, The Enneagram, The Second Half of Life, The White Picket Gate

The Face of Life

When traveling I become a people watcher. I am fascinated by other cultures, how people move within them and the marks left by those cultures.

Left in the Mexico City airport longer than expected, I had ample time to observe the comings and goings of people from all countries. It easily occupied me during my wait.
When entering the restroom during this time I met a woman coming out. She was probably close to my age, but bent by life. Unlike me, she used a cane and moved slowly. Still she caught my attention by the peaceful and happy look on her face.
I looked in the restroom mirror and studied myself in comparision; upright, quick-movingand, and sure of step. When I looked inward and thought of myself in repose I knew that I wear a look of intensity – sometimes read by others as mad or unhappy.
I can write my own story for this.
Once upon a time there was a woman who lives in her head. She spent much time wondering,  her mind teasing what she thought of as the great questions of life. Her inner world was chaotic at times as she sought to control her outer world. Although she knew that she had no control, she lived with the illusion that it was her job to try.
In this same time there was a woman whose life had not gone as smoothly. Life had taken a toll on her. She had know physical pain and also much sorrow. She didn’t dwell there, however. She dwelt in the exact moment in which she lived. This moment was good. She was grateful for this goodness, this breath.
I have often said that after a certain age, our faces reflect who we are and how we view life. This, I believe, is the proof of that.
The Student

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Filed under More Teachers, Self-examination

Control is an Illusion

“Since death is certain, but the time of death is uncertain, what is the most important thing? Pema Chodron

I am always out of control. Yet I cling to the illusion of a life that I can delineate. I set intentions. I make plans. And then life happens.

My younger daughter was seriously ill in the hospital after a few critical days of pneumonia and septic shock. She’s better now, and I can breathe.

And I have a reminder that I do not maintain order in my life although I am the beneficiary of it at times. I can plan, I can organize, I can get involved in daily routines that feel vitally important. I can consider myself indispensable and worry about everything from keeping appointments to putting healthy meals on the table.

Poof…it all disappears as I sit for hours in a hospital chair, mindless of what was compelling a few hours ago.

I no longer care if the leftover chicken rots and the clothes heap up in the laundry room. I skip my morning routines to make sure my daughter has a healthy smoothie when she wakes in the morning. My hair begins to stand on end and I look down to discover a spot on my jacket that a week before would have embarrassed me. Now I idly examine it, wondering what and when without much interest. Mirrors are not a reality for the moment.

It is another reminder to seek what is important in my life. Another reason to drop form and look for substance. A recognition that uncertainty is a way to practice acceptance. And that acceptance is letting go of control.

The Student

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Filed under Pema Chodron, Quotations