Do you remember the discussion of ego in Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert? (No, it is not just a girl book!) The main character is talking about how hard it is to let go, and her friend says, “That’s just your ego, trying to make sure it stays in charge. This is what your ego does. It keeps you feeling separate…tries to convince you that you’re flawed and broken and alone instead of whole…Your ego’s job isn’t to serve you. Its only job is to keep itself in power. And right now your ego is scared to death cuz it’s about to be downsized.”
The article How Your Ego Thrives on Fear and Keeps You Panicked by Amaya Pryce offers a similar description. We can feel the grip of the ego showing up in fear and defensiveness and a panic to do something RIGHT NOW to make sure we never feel weakness, humiliation and not-good-enough–that brittle anger that leads to an impetuous act that even as you do it you know you will regret it later.
We think we see that same brittleness show up in our clients when they think they HAVE TO KNOW and need to be perceived as right or powerful or worthy of being the CEO. We have seen so much lashing out or cutting off or pushing away of the very thing that actually might help carry the individual or the team or the company through the tough time.
We love the idea that the soul is that deeper sense of curiosity or discovery or even “what the hell, none of us knows the right thing to do so we might as well do that thing that feels right.” We are empowered when we can trust that sense of adventure and willingness to learn. Instead of tightening up and pushing away we can laugh and connect and perhaps even enjoy the “experimenting together.”
For Amaya Pryce the honey badger represents the authentic, reflective, calm soul battling the tempestuous ego. There is a honey badger sitting by my desk right now, a gift from a friend who I guess wanted to provide a reminder that more might be gained by not caring so much.