I’ve fucked up a lot in my life. I’ve embarrassed myself, hurt others, been selfish, self-centered, grandiose, irresponsible and manipulative – you name it – I’ve done it.
I didn’t realize at the time – and sometimes still forget – that this is how my mind compensates when my spirit sags. I try to inflate my deflated spirit with ego-based actions, created by my mind and not my soul.
My mind would be a terrible game-show contestant.
It always buzzes in first, never with the right answer. My soul always has the right answer, but it doesn’t answer as quickly, and that is not convenient for someone who is prone to impatience, selfishness and fear.
When I’m self-centered, I’m acting on the belief that I am separate from you, we cannot help each other, I’ve got to do things on my own, and your success is my failure. You are there for me to compare myself to, and then decide if I’m winning or losing.
When I feel I’m losing I become even more selfish; my mind yells, We’re not doing enough, We don’t have enough and We’re not enough. So my actions become desperate, ironically making my life worse, when all I was trying to do was make my life better.
But I was trying to live my life intellectually, not spiritually. And I don’t believe we can achieve true, lasting serenity unless our spirit is allowed to buzz in.
When I ignore my spirit, or soul, or whatever you want to call it, and ignore principles like love, honesty, patience, faith and compassion, I am pitted, in my mind, against everyone. And this is exactly what my brain wants, because then it HAS to be in charge.
It has created a phantom workload that only it can work on.
The brain and ego are constantly trying to claw their way into the driver’s seat.
When our spirit is ignored; when “stuff” becomes more important than principles, we stop caring about other people because we’re too busy catering to the panic the brain and ego have created. We become sad, lonely and left behind, even if we’re financially successful. Our spirit sags. And if we’ve never used our spirit, we just think we need more stuff.
I’ve had money coming out of my ass and been suicidal.
I’m currently unemployed and much happier. Not because I’m unemployed, but because my spirit is happy and active, and I don’t feel defined by my job or income level. Some days I catch myself slipping back into it, and know it means I’m being too selfish.
How is the body affected when the mind is in charge?
Think of people you know who are trapped in their heads. They intellectualize everything and can’t talk on an emotional level. Most of the ones I know are usually filled with tension and worry; furrowed brow, hunched shoulders, awkward eye contact, obsessive, isolated, lacking self-esteem or compensating with arrogance.
The mind is leading and the body and spirit are suffering.
When I help others, I feel peace. When I feel peace I don’t panic. When I don’t panic I make good decisions. When I make good decisions things work out.
I don’t engage in spiritual practices because it’s the right or moral thing to do. I do it because I have no other sensible choice. Without it, my depression and addictions would take over and kill me. I do it because it works.
It seems so completely backwards, but the first thing I need to do when I feel like life is passing me by, is to do something nice for another person, with no strings attached, nothing expected in return. Sometimes it feels like pulling teeth. But the relief from anxiety always comes at some point after doing it. And that calms my mind and relaxes my body.
When I place my spirit first, my mind and my body benefit. I get sick less often, I’m a better listener, and I connect to people on a deeper level. It improves my self-esteem and gives me spiritual momentum, which makes it easier to keep doing the right thing.
But my brain always protests the helping of others. It always tells me There isn’t time! It tells me, We’ve already fucked up too much! We’re behind schedule and we need to get more money, power or recognition or we won’t survive!
I’ve started ignoring that voice and I am more able to enjoy my life no matter what happens.
Some days it wins, some days it doesn’t. I sat down to work on a comedy project about two hours ago, and instead started writing this. The ENTIRE time my brain kept chiming in, that, We are blowing our career! We’re doomed. Why are we writing this? We’re UNEMPLOYED, we need MONEY! On and on.
I ignored that voice and listened to the one that told me this was the better choice; that working on this would bring me peace, and make me feel more connected to people.
It did. I feel good.
And hopefully, after reading this you feel a little less behind schedule, a little less trapped in the past or future, a little more normal, and a little less alone.