Life is most unpredictable, yes; we may get out of bed the same time each day, go to the same workplace, and maybe even eat the same thing for lunch every day. But what goes through our minds and how we interpret events change – even if it is the same event from the day before.
How is it that we respond to stimuli diametrically opposite in manner and believe in the absolute fundamental correctness of both reactions or interpretations of the event? EGO! The ego sees what it wants to see, hears what it wants to hear and therefore believes that two opposite conditions are correct and therefore are reality. Well, they very well are THEIR reality.
Our ego has but one job, to protect the image of who we are. This protection extends to protecting ourselves from ourselves. Oftentimes, it shields us longer – much longer, past the point when others know the truth about us before we know it ourselves.
At some point in our lives, we develop a mental image of who we are. We develop every detail, for example: we are a protector of our loved ones, we are forgiving, we are understanding, we let others be who they want to be and we help them to be in the image of themselves. We do not argue because we feel they are unhealthy, so we try to keep the relationship environment steady and peaceful. We love those in our lives unconditionally and take great pride in this fact because it shows our flexibility.
The character just described sounds like the perfect mate, perfect family person, and this is exactly right if the other mate has all the same (or most of the same) characteristics. However, if the other mate is controlling, a wounded ego that needs to lord over others, in order to feel their own worth, then the first person here becomes the victim of domestic abuse.
The abuse does not have to be physical to be damaging. In fact, the vast percentage of abuse in the US is verbal, mental or emotional in nature. Sometimes this can and does turn physical, but does not have to become physical to be effective. Because of the ego’s inability to accurately read situations and sees only what it needs to see to protect its image of itself, it willingly withstands great levels of pain rather than open its eyes to the truth.
So how does the cycle break? How can we remove our veil of self ignorance and pull back the shroud covering our mirror of ourselves? The answer is mindfulness. When we live absolutely in the present moment, then we see each moment for exactly what is it without preconceived notions and judgments, and then we can see the truth. But we must set aside our emotions and preprogrammed thinking to do this.
In “active listening” we are taught to listen with an open mind to what another person is saying, and then take a moment to formulate a response after that person has finished speaking. This is so that we do not make snap judgments before knowing all the details. Typically, we engage in non-active listening and while the other person is speaking, we stop listening and begin formulating our response.
Because of the magnificent complexity of the human mind, we are able to practice non-listening on ourselves. Our ego mind begins to interpret scenarios we find ourselves in, as a way to protect us and not see what is really happening. Our “loved” one standing before us yelling obscenities at us gets interpreted as “I must have done something to deserve this so I will have to try harder to get it right and please them.”
This is classic abuser/victim mentality that keeps us rooted in behavior patterns that can be and often does become deadly. By being mindful of each exact moment and not putting our protective ego overlay on the moment, we will be able to more accurately interpret events. But we must be willing to be completely honest with ourselves in order for the cycle to change. We have to drop our preconceived image we have of ourselves – it is usually wrong anyway, so why hang on to it.
Decide each moment on its’ own merit. When you do, you can better judge the prevailing winds and steer your actions to the proper course. Do not be afraid to steer in the opposite direction from past routes. If those routes brought you suffering in the past, don’t go there, you will only get the same painful results.
Tell your ego to step aside and allow compassionate wisdom for yourself to shine through.
The flight attendant’s instruction while taxing before takeoff is “Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs.” This is applicable in all situations in life, not just when oxygen levels drop at 30,000 feet in the air. Inability to breathy at ground level has a debilitating effect too. So put on your mindful oxygen mask and leave it in place permanently. See what others see and put an end to your personal delusions. Abuse takes many forms, even the form of self sabotage. No matter where it comes from it is unhealthy and must be eradicated with surgical precision.