Somewhere between the ages of birth and five years old, you began to believe lies about yourself. The ego generated these lies and has used them ever since to keep you running on the gerbil wheel of upset and emotional drama. Once you recognize the lies, you can make choices that counter their effects on your relationships.
One powerful lie is that you’re not good enough. Perhaps it originates from feeling inadequate to perform according to parental expectations. Or perhaps you are unsuccessful in keeping your parents from getting a divorce. Or maybe you couldn’t prevent a pet or a person from dying. All manner of events can precipitate and then feed the “not good enough” belief.
This belief has a flip side called “better than.” One minute you perceive that you’re “not good enough” and others are “better than.” The next minute you think of others as “not good enough” and you as “better than.”
One effect of the “not good enough/better than” (NGE/BT) opinion is perfectionism. If there is one tiny flaw or error in something the ego sees you do, it labels the entire project “not good enough.” It then uses your mind to heap a load of judgment and criticism onto you, and you beat yourself up with self-deprecating thoughts. You begin to procrastinate; or you might give up entirely, thinking, “It will never be good enough, so why bother?”
The ego, through the NGE/BT pattern, judges and criticizes others. It convinces you that you are right and others wrong. It lures you into laying “shoulds” onto others because, of course, its way is best. It will have you share opinions with a tone of arrogant self-righteousness that creates pressure and tension in your relationships.
An excellent strategy to counter the NGE/BT lie is simply to notice it. It operates with free rein in the secrecy of your unconsciousness, but it will retreat in the Light of your awareness. “Oh, there it goes again,” you say. Then you laugh at it, pat it on the head, and tell it to go sit in the corner. If you judge the NGE/BT pattern and try to expunge it from your life, that’s called resistance, which only succeeds in keeping the pattern in place.
Dr. Carol McCall, one of my mentors, used to give “homework” to people with the NGE/BT pattern. Every time they caught themselves speaking a “should” or making a judgmental statement, they were to say, “Of course, that’s the ‘not good enough/better than’ speaking.” This exercise served to strengthen their power of self-observation, enabling them to catch the pattern in action and to expose it by telling on it.
Exposing the ego and withdrawing your attention from the drama that NGE/BT generates takes away the ego’s food. When it doesn’t receive nourishment through the upset of your judgment and impatience, it will decrease in intensity and frequency.
When this occurs, others experience you as more “user friendly.” Your perfectionism and self-righteousness transforms into the gift of quality that you are then free to contribute to the world.
Thank you to Dr. McCall (www.listneningprofitsu.com) for teaching me about the ego’s patterns. More to come in future columns.