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We’re all pretty familiar with the good old protection mechanism called the ego. It kicks butt in keeping us safe from all of the external goo-ga that could potentially invade our space in the world. But it doesn’t always stop there. Sigh. The ego also does a pretty good job at creating more to be afraid of than really exists. It makes up stories about people and things that it often has little to no information about, and it creates protection mechanisms to keep us safe based upon those stories – hence leaving us all alone, with walls and blocks around things that do us no good to avoid, and especially not to judge.
But we still do, judge that is. We put ourselves in positions of “knowing” and others in positions of having the wrong information. Often it’s simply to protect ourselves, but again, rarely does the story we base that protection on have any validity at all. And really, that just f$%@’s everything up.
In a moment of “rightness” today, I had a realization of why. In my mind I was trying to protect someone else, in addition to myself. I found myself in a situation where someone determined they did not want to like me – oh geesh, the ego’s biggest enemy. I made up about a thousand reasons why this person had such a story about me, and another many reasons why they felt the need to intervene and make it known. Some of my stories and determined possibilities pertained to my taking responsibility for my actions, and some of which had to do with said person’s past traumas, hurt, and protection mechanisms. And because someone else was involved in the logistics of it all, someone who I love very much, I found myself in a mixture of sadness (due to my stories, really), resentment (uh huh, due to other stories), and contempt (yep, a pretty icky emotion, and also, you guessed it, due to other stories I made up). All of these stories were based upon what knowledge I did have, and all were based in a strong yearning for me to make everything better for everyone, linked with a feeling of being handcuffed by circumstance.
And so, I sat down to deal with the situation in meditation, because if you can’t really talk to them, go be with them in whatever way you still can. I was shocked at what I found. My intention was to send love, to be love, and to have only love for the person/people involved and the situation. But I couldn’t get there without first acknowledging what I felt. And boy was it ugly. In healing the emotions I felt in my heart, I found that I couldn’t simply make them go away, because they all led to a shell, an armor of me wanting to be right. I found myself encompassed by a wall that my ego had put up to protect me from feeling made wrong. This wall was only made stronger with emotions, which simultaneously were strengthened by said wall. It was a cycle of ego and story that wasn’t serving anyone. In fact, it was genuinely thwarting my efforts to love unconditionally in this situation. In wanting to make everything better for everyone, my deepest desire was simply to love unconditionally. But it was not going to be made possible with the cycle my ego had created in wanting to be right. I was given no choice but to let go; to let go of the need and desire to be right. I was forced to realize that my beliefs, even if they were based in a sense of awareness, did no good here. And I was forced to realize that even taking responsibility for my actions wasn’t serving me when it was based in my own desire to grow – both for myself and the benefits of others. Because anything that had to do with me, was no longer important. I was given no choice but to let go of everything that was “mine” versus “theirs” if I wanted to truly love.
It’s often the protection mechanisms that we create that in the end hurt us the most. We make up scenarios and needs that aren’t necessarily the truth, and we prevent ourselves from loving and being loved in its deepest (and yummiest) form. So I ask you today, where do you have a need to be right? Is it serving you?
“We habitually erect a barrier called blame that keeps us from communicating genuinely with others, and we fortify it with our concepts of who’s right and who’s wrong. We do that with the people who are closest to us and we do it with political systems, with all kinds of things that we don’t like about our associates or our society. It is a very common, ancient, well-perfected device for trying to feel better. Blame others. Blaming is a way to protect your heart, trying to protect what is soft and open and tender in yourself. Rather than own that pain, we scramble to find some comfortable ground.” ~Pema Chodron