Anna Maria Locke

How to break up with your ego

October 2015Anna LockeComment

Happy October!

This month I'm starting my second round of Jess Lively's e-course, Life With Intention Online, which is focused on values-based living, creating a sense of fulfillment, and tuning into your intuition. It's coming at a perfect time for me! Jess is one of my favorite spiritcrushes, and speaks directly to my over-achieving, perfectionist, creative soul.

Funny story: I wrote most of this post yesterday, when I had a glorious, calm, anxiety-free day and was celebrating my Ego break-up. Well, the ego is a sneaky beast. It woke me up at 4:30 this morning and wouldn't shut up (you're not doing enough, your business is growing too slow, you need to push harder, don't fool yourself, etc etc) as if to say YOU'RE NEVER GETTING RID OF ME MUAHAHAH!

That's the whole point, I guess. Your ego isn't something you can ever overcome, because it's always going to be a part of you.

And I'm not writing this blog from the position of an expert who has OVERCOME all my issues (cue gospel chorus). 

I'm writing it as a normal girl who has a tendency to take life too seriously and is still in the trenches processing my own shiz too.

What I'm learning: as soon as we have a break through or start to commit to making a positive change in our lives, our inner mean girl voice will start blaring at us to second guess ourselves because she wants to hold us back and dramatize everything. If we listen to the negative voice and get caught in our emotions, that's when we sabotage ourselves. (Have you ever lost weight and then gained it all back? Yup.)

That is lesson one. Your ego = your inner critic.

Lesson two: it is not real.

But now I'm getting ahead of myself...

Do you see the whiteboard calendar behind this gorgeous half-wilted bouquet from my Grandma's farm? I didn't even notice when I took the picture, but note all the goals and deadlines I set for myself....I didn't accomplish ANY of them!

In fact, I'd say my biggest accomplishment in September has been releasing my dependency on the eternal goal-race.

This weekend I took a big trip to Iowa to visit my college roommate and her new baby girl, and then stopped by to visit my grandma and Uncle on their farm in the Quad Cities where I went to college. One of my biggest values is connection, which includes connecting to the places and people I love. Needless to say, this weekend was super fun, a great chance to re-focus and center on my priorities, and also gain some clarity on the bigger picture of my endless question “what am I doing with my life?”

I ended up driving for over 12 hours by myself, through the cornfields, listening to podcasts and sometimes just sitting in silence.

Having the freedom to choose my own schedule and take 4 day weekends or trips whenever I want is one of my favorite parts of working for myself, but it doesn't come without its own costs.

I took a lot of trips this summer, either by myself or with Ben. And everytime we spent a weekend (or week) out of town, instead of reveling in the freedom of being self employeed and married to a teacher on break, I felt a little overwhelmed at balancing work and life. I felt like if I didn’t get to use the weekend as a chance to catch up on errands and chores and emails, I’d set myself behind. So every time I went out of town, I felt stressed out when I returned.

But this weekend was different. I took Monday off so Tuesday was my first day “back at the office.” Tuesday night Ben tentatively asked me how my day went, expecting em to vent about how overwhelmed I was. But instead of feeling overwhelmed by diving back into work and CATCHING UP, and feeling like I need to sprint to get back where I was (aka how I’ve felt after every other weekend trip this summer), I have been feeling a surprising and welcomed sense of calm and peace.

I’m finally creating boundaries around my expectations, and giving myself permission to slow down and honor my energy instead of pushing through. I’m living in the questions and the uncertainty instead of pretending I need to know all the answers, like, yesterday.

I’m finally choosing to break up with my ego.

  • Do you ever feel like you're stuck inside your head? Like you are controlled by your fear and anxiety, and always blowing things out of proportion?
  • Do you base your sense of value and self-worth on external achievements like promotions, a number on the scale, relationship status, getting another degree....but then you're never satisfied because the more you achieve the farther you still have to go?
  • Do you hold yourself back because you're afraid of failure?
  • Is it hard for you to just be present and still (in church, doing yoga, in bed), without your brain spinning and spewing uncontrollable thoughts, or without compulsively reaching for your phone or food to distract yourself?

If so, you might need to ego-check yo'self too.

What’s an ego?

Your ego is not an inflated sense of self.

Your ego is that little negative voice inside your head. Your inner critic. You know, the one that tears you down and tells you that you aren’t enough, you are too fat, you aren’t pretty, you will always be a failure, you suck, you don’t deserve to be happy, etc etc.

It’s the voice that loves to-do lists and goal setting and making vision boards, it tells you that you have to hitch your wagon to achievements, that life is a competition, that if you don’t “measure up” you’ll be a worthless failure.

The voice that tells you you’ll never live up to your own expectations. The emotion, the fear.

It lives in the past (re-hashing conversations and analyzing how you could have done better), or the future (future-tripping and worrying about things that havne't hapened yet.)

But you know what? Your ego is NOT you. And you are in control of whether or not you CHOOSE to listen to it.

As a reforming perfectionist, my ego and I have a particularly complicated relationship. It has been my Achilles heel since I left my job last summer to build my coaching business full time. The thing is, I am addicted to chasing success and to-do lists, and with the incredible structure and recognition system that I get from Beachbody, it’s easy to lose sight of my bigger picture and get swept up in the "success vortex" and comparison trap.

TRUTHBOMB: Success is a mindset. Feeling overwhelmed is a mindset. And your mindset is a CHOICE.

This summer was fast and intense, and early in September I hit a breaking point where I didn’t really break, but I just felt icky. Uncomfortable. Not myself. I felt like I was pushing myself and my coaches too hard, and not stepping back to think about how we actually want to feel.

So this month I decided to take a step back. To slow my roll. To break my streak of “wins” and break up with my ego.

I "failed" to hit some goals and benchmarks in my business this month, but I'm ok with that! I'm choosing to lay off the pressure and be nicer to myself.

Breaking up with your ego (and the old you) is hard. It’s heartbreaking. It is painful and you will feel emotional and physical GRIEF. You will have moments of extreme self doubt. You will relapse.

But it’s ok. Keep moving forward. Surround yourself with positive, supportive friends who get you and aren't  judgmental. If none of your friends or family understand what you're going through, shoot me an email and vent away! I would love to be your friend and hold space as you process your mini-crisis. I am there with you, I totally understand. You are not going crazy :)

Most of all, don’t suppress the feels!

Ready?? Here we go...

How to break up with your ego

STEP ONE: Awareness

Simply start to become aware of the thoughts and feelings inside your mind. What are you saying to yourself? I like to journal stream-of-conscious style first thing every morning to siphon the chatter off my brain, which really helps me feel more calm and centered!

Recognize that there's a difference between the voice, and your actual deepest self.

E.g. if you think "I hate myself," there are two identities at play. The "I," and the "self." Yeah I know, this is trippy and getting deep. Stay with me!

STEP TWO: Separation

Once you become aware of this mental chatter, start to separate yourself from it. You don't have to conquer or eliminate your ego, because it's not really bad. It's just another part of who you are! But you CAN choose not to listen to what it's saying. If you ignore it, it will get quieter. (A general lesson I've learned as the oldest sister of 4, hahaha).

STEP THREE: Patience + Forgiveness

Your ego is always going to bubble back up, but now that you are aware of it, you don't have to let it control your emotions and sense of self worth any more. Be really really really really patient with yourself, and forgive yourself whenever you slip back into abusive or negative thought patterns. You're just human :)

If you want to learn more about your ego, check out Eckhart Tolle's book The Power of Now, or Marianne Williamson's A Return to Love!

So there you have it, a peek inside my mind. Good lord this stuff is hard to write, but it does feel good to get off my brain, haha.

Did this post spark something in you? I would LOOOOVE to hear!! Shoot me an email and share your story!

xo Anna

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