One of the things our ego does for us is to try to gain “standing” in society, and within our social circle. And one of the ways it will do that is to partner with our intellect, and work up ways of letting other people know how smart we are. Another version of the same general principal is “how cute we are” or “how nice we are” or… choose your own version. This “persona” — the mask we wear to show others — is formed at an early age. Children quickly figure out the way they are most likely to gain favor and attention within the family, and adopt that as a personality trait. So, among siblings, we often find “the smart one”, “the cute one”, “the nice one” and so on.
These strategies for living — really survival techniques — become relatively hard wired into our system, and in growing up we come to identify them as “me”. They go on automatic, until such time as they begin to get in the way, and are brought to our attention. A few examples of how they might get in the way:
- A “nice” person can’t stop being nice, and becomes a doormat
- A “smart” person can’t stop providing information, and becomes so annoying people avoid him
- A “cute” person becomes focused on their outward appearance to the point where there is little or no inner life being cultivated.
Ironically, when taken to extremes, the very pattern that was developed to help us gain favor and thrive among our family becomes the same thing that makes it difficult to live with fulfillment and thrive among our peers.
But the biggest downside to these kinds of personality traits is that the more we identify with them, the less we are able to connect with ourselves at deep levels. Remember, these are ego patterns. The ego is focused on survival at all costs, and has no concern for the heart, spirituality, or true unconditional love, unless it happens to think those things would be good for its own purposes. And when the ego gets involved in matters of the spiritual heart, it can’t help but bring them down to its level and contaminate them. Not so good.
So what do you when you want to connect spiritually in a deeper way, but find yourself struggling with outmoded masks? You can approach it from the outside in, and the inside out.
- Outside In: Recognize that it’s been happening, watch for it in your daily life, and do whatever it takes to let it go.
- Inside Out: Focus on what’s essential within you. Meditation can be good for that, especially if your meditation focuses on the spiritual heart, surrender, gratitude, and acceptance.
And it definitely helps to have some outside help, from someone who can hold up a mirror to show you your blind spots, and also reflect your essence back to you. If you’re looking for someone like that to help you, try to find one who has already done that piece of work themselves. Find more about how I can work with you on masks on the intuitive counseling page of my website.