You’ve got to make a conscious choice every day to shed the old – whatever “the old” means for you. Sarah Ban Breathnach
In life, we are motivated by our values and ideals. They determine our actions in every situation. There are two types of motivations that we can follow: those driven by our personality or ego, our conditioned self, or those inspired by our unconditioned self, that higher, wiser part of our being.
If you are following the impulses of your personality, it is likely that in some areas, it is leading you into suffering. In reality, any area of your life where you are experiencing negative emotions is a sign that you are following, and acting upon, the ideals of the ego. A differentiator between these two types of impetuses is that the incentives of the ego mostly lead you into some form of action or behaviour, whereas those of the unconditioned self lead you to goals that are expressed in essence, not form.
Here are some examples of the impulses that come from the wiser part of our being:
- Keeping your mind alert in the present moment
- Deidentifying from your conditioned mental chatter
- Listening to your intuition
- Valuing honesty, truth and authenticity
- Having integrity in your communications and actions
- Accepting feedback, free from the need to defend yourself
- Seeing challenges as an opportunity to learn and grow
- Being willing to gain new perspectives, insights and understand the viewpoints of others
- Wanting to make a difference to others or the planet
- Valuing your time and your energy
- Being willing to shine
- Desiring expansion and growth in your life
- Being willing to follow the inherent plan for your life
- Being kind, and where you are unable to be kind, being forgiving
- Feeling compassion for others
- Being willing to listen attentively to others
- Recognising you have the ability to lift, or deplete, others with your energy
In contrast, the stimuli of the personality always include the “have to’s” and the “should’s”. They often lead you to striving and busyness. Any area where you are persistently go-getting that is not bringing you joy is a sure sign that you are following some egoic impulse. They lead to feelings of heaviness or resistance. Moreover, they always seek to maintain a certain self-image that we have of ourselves that we wish to preserve.
Certain personality ideals come with wanting to be seen as a ‘good’ person: These include being nice all the time, criticising yourself if you are not perfect or if you have experienced intense negative emotions and being hard on yourself. These also consist of upsets If your plans have gone array or if you have gone against your inner wisdom; always being perfect, keeping everyone happy, pushing yourself to grow, and growing faster than is comfortable for you.
Very often when we look closely at our personality motivations and go to what is hidden underneath them, we find the principles of our unconditioned self. It is just that we are expressing it in the wrong way. For example, the need to be loved or liked, which is common, is disguising the unconditioned ideal of giving and receiving love. If we can let go of the need, then we can express this higher ideal easily.
The important thing is to be able to let go of the attachment to having love, or whatever else it is that we are attached to having. Without the desire, we can easily express the wiser ideal. I always think of detachment as being happy if we have something and being happy if we don’t. With that level of objectivity, things can flow to us quickly and effortlessly.
Other examples of these personality ideals that come up in different areas of life are:
- The desire to be popular or famous
- The high need for approval
- Keeping quiet to keep the peace
- Always being strong
- Having to be seen to be perfect
- Wanting to be in control
- The desire to avoid emotional pain, discomfort or growth
- Needing money and material possessions to feel good about yourself
- Being devoted to wealth, success or certain people
- Sacrificing yourself to help others
- Working hard and being busy to feel important
- Wanting to save others from their challenges
- Wanting to stay safe, protected and unseen
- Resisting change and the new
- Hiding your light and being invisible
If you sense that you are acting out of any of these ideals, be observant of them to gain greater awareness of them in action. With that knowledge, be willing to let them go gently. Sometimes you may feel negative emotions as you let go of ideals because you have held them all your life and believe that they serve you. Be willing to go through this and release them nonetheless, so that you can embody the higher ideals that allow you to act with greater ease in every area of your life.