I have had such an amazing Holiday season here in North Carolina. I haven’t spent Christmas with family for about 20 years. I also haven’t received actual Christmas presents from people besides co-workers since my last partner in 2013. Sure, my friends would buy me a little something here and there, but it was never consistent. As I observed my thoughts, (which is what I do now!) it seemed odd for something like receiving presents to make such an impact on my state of mind and self-worth. Perhaps I saw this as a confirmation of love and acceptance. Which sounds a bit silly and shallow. I grew up in a family with beliefs that money meant to struggle and hard work was the only way to succeed in life. While on the other side of the coin, too much money was considered greedy and was morally compromising to the receiver. Needless to say, lots of hard work and struggling to pay the bills were part of my family’s entire history. Therefore, gifts were taken with high regard because of the struggle for the money needed to purchase these ‘things’. Then it’s common to identify with these gifts and it feels good when we receive something we really wanted. We feel heard. “This person really knows me.” I sometimes take pride in the feeling of getting someone something they really enjoy. It feels good. However, at the same time, I am noticing my reaction and attachment to the feelings that gifts/money can bring. I am currently in the process of changing my beliefs around money so that I can break the family chain of never having enough. I am doing this by waking up. Allow me to share my process.
Eckhart Tolle clearly states that the Egoic mind is entirely conditioned by the past. We believe we are who we are due to our history and life situations. We identify with our past pains which are actually our current pain since there is only Now. We take this information and trauma and package it into the body that is sitting down reading these words. Then not only do we identify with our ego, but we accept it as our own. Identification with the mind prevents us from Being or living in the Now. Listening to our thoughts creates a false sense of self, one that is filled with shadows of fear and suffering. Then our past essentially turns into our prison because it has become our present. I hear statements like, “I am who I am and I will never change.” It feels comforting to, “know who we are” when really we are limiting ourselves while oblivious to our full potential. As Tolle would put it, we are following our past beliefs while still remaining unconscious to the true essence of who we are and only here is where we can we truly change. This information is dense and at first, I was completely overwhelmed. But I can’t stop reading, re-reading again and again because deep down it feels true. Our thoughts can make us miserable and sometimes they don’t even seem like us at all. Around four or five months ago I discovered that when I cry, it is because I am identifying with my thoughts. If someone hurts me, my mind spins with self-deprecating thoughts all the while resisting/bringing closer the idea that this certain someone is correct. It is such a relief to know that my thoughts aren’t even me at all, it is my ego. We can choose to identify with the thoughts which then create more pain and suffering or we can just watch them pass by. Mastering this skill is very much time well spent. I struggle with consistency, but overall I am hoping to be able to replicate it again and again until the thoughts are just a whisper in the background.
Not only does the ego connect us with beliefs about ourselves, but it also causes us to identify with things. I have, unfortunately, fallen victim to this over the years. I’ve always had the stigma since I was a child, that wearing certain clothing would allow me to attract the right kinds of people into my life. Since nice clothing was a luxury I didn’t have when I was a child, I assumed this was the reason for my feelings of loneliness and isolation. This was the sole separation. My younger self would reason if I could somehow look the part then I would magically transform and feel the love I was so desperately missing. Children are so pure and such incredible creatures. ❤ Unfortunately, I held onto this belief through most of my adult life. When I worked in an office, I remember a shift when I kept getting passed over for promotions. This was a marketing company so they were image-conscious. I got it into my head that if I started dressing up then I would be more recognized for my talents and then eventually be promoted. I hate to say it, but I do believe this worked. Because so many people cannot see beneath the surface of what an individual has to offer. I then went crazy with it!! I bought a new wardrobe, new shoes, boots, and my credit cards were accommodating to the weight. All the while, not realizing that I was trying to fulfill a desire that went much deeper. I was trying to give that little girl the love she deserved. Again, blindly identifying with my past. Designer labels take advantage of this identification with our egos. They are in a sense, identity enhancers. These clothes make us, the users, feel special and exclusive. After all, if everyone could acquire these styles, then the psychological value attached to them would be gone. We would be forced to pay only the intrinsic value for the materials which is a minute fraction of what people will actually pay for a Prada label. Of course, this is the extreme side of materialism as most of us fall somewhere in the middle. After all, aren’t the most expensive Christmas gifts the ones that mean the most? This year I was fortunate to be showered with lots of amazing gifts. It made such an impact that it literally brought me to tears. I was so honored and possibly felt a little undeserving, hence the crying/identifying with my thoughts. It felt like a confirmation that my family did truly love me. That little girl in me was finally getting love. Kinda messed up when you think about it 🙂 But when I look around these beliefs do not seem that different. There are so many people that spend more money than they have in order to fill a void within their lives. All the while knowing deep down that this will only create more turmoil in the end. It is a vicious cycle and marketing companies are happy to magnify these moments of unconsciousness. Advertisers know that in order to sell us something that we don’t need, they must project a feeling that the object will add something to how we see ourselves. Or better yet, how others will perceive us. We become easy prey.
This new year I challenge everyone to just begin observing your thoughts throughout the day. Without labeling or judging, just watch. I was surprised by how much time I spent thinking about the past. Even knowing that’s not what I wanted to focus on. The ego is a tricky thing and pops up continually over and over again. But after observing without emotion to the point when it becomes a habit, eventually, the ego begins to feel like a separate entity entirely. Which makes it much easier to simply ignore, turn off. Then once this veil has lifted, we are free to live and enjoy life exactly as it was intended.