Oprah posed the question, “Is ego keeping you from living your best life?” on her website a couple weeks ago before her new Lifeclass show on OWN, and it inspired me to write about ego at work in my life. Following is my 2,000-character “story,” which landed me quite unexpectedly in the audience of her first Lifeclass webcast last Monday evening:
I felt like Eve realizing her nakedness when I discovered my ego wasn’t actually an attribute. Cracked open, ashamed and deeply desirous of some clothes to throw on.
I guessed the separation from ego would be miserable so, while I stuck with the meditation practice that spawned my awareness, I kept covering up with fig leaves, and my addiction to achievement and compliments thrived. Then, in an intervention of sorts, I moved to another country, got pregnant, had a baby and quit work to be a full-time mom, throwing me into the “program” of motherhood and hijacking my ego-bred world of crossed-off to-do lists, money making, comparing, measuring and praise craving.
Even in childbirth, 29 hours of which I endured to completion without an epidural, I had to prove I could handle labor and show I was a real earth mama. Yet with the birth of my baby, and my ironic inability to breastfeed, I was forced to go cold turkey on my ego. As a new mom, I was tortured with a sense of uselessness because I had nothing to show for my hard work. I’d plucked the last fig leaf. Then I had a 2nd baby 19 months later. I’d gained two awesome humans to love, and I was not handling it well.
Finally, just enough fog cleared. A healer suggested I see myself as a perfect child of God, to love myself and others without judgment and to release the idea that, in order to be of value, I had to reach widespread recognition. I heard her, and I’m trying. Now, despite my best efforts, I still struggle. On good days, I am free to live and mother with divine love and to create without attachment to outcome. On my weaker days, I live in a duality of resolve to be a nurturing mom and desire to show the world I’m not just a mom. And, on those ego days, I really hate the casual question, “What have you been up to?” Still, my higher self shows up a lot more than it used to. And, even as I end up in its throes, I know that ego holds me back from my best life. That’s got to be a step in the right direction.
I’m actually not an Oprah devotee—I watched only about 15 episodes in her 25 years on air—but the consciousness to which she exposes the world with every move she makes inspires me and uplifts me beyond explanation. Still, I’m surprised to find my experience in the live studio audience last night, a perfume-on-the-breeze distance from Oprah and Eckhart Tolle, to have impacted me so. But it wasn’t just Oprah and the rush-of-peaceful-power-clearly-he-has-keys-to-the-universe Eckhart Tolle who inspired me. It was the courage shown by her guests.
So, to Scott for exposing your soul to the core about your addiction to designer labels, to Derek for sharing your fears about pursuing your dreams of being an artist and your victory over ego to start your own business, to the high-achieving-collegian-turned-waitress for revealing the deepest sort of insecurity to which all of us can relate and to Rita Bridenstine, Ms. “I don’t think it’s possible anymore for other people to hurt me. They’re just giving me their observation and I’m giving it meaning,” for putting your loving wisdom out there, thanks.