We all like to think we have control over our lives.
In life, if we are moderately privileged persons, it probably feels like things have gone our way, either now or in the past. We might have lots of evidence to prove that this is true.
Because we’ve worked hard, focused, applied ourselves, taken a lot of actions, we are able to control our destiny.
Our ego (or the “I” or the conditioned self) loves to pipe up and say — Yes! I did all of this. It was me. All me.
Ego has a whole story that goes like this: This is about me. I’m in control. I make things happen.
There is of course a way in which this is true.
But underpinning this illusion or belief is the reality that this is not how life works.
How do we know this or get a sense of this?
Think of something in your life that didn’t go your way. Maybe you failed in a big way, or something bad happened to you that was not your fault (you got cancer, you got into an accident, you made a bad decision at a time when you were — in retrospect — under enormous stress or being an unkind, unawake person.)
Were these things “your” fault?
(Okay, maybe you can say the last one — making a bad decision — was your fault… but is it really if you made that decision as an alcoholic, as a rage-a-holic, as a stress-a-holic, etc?)
The point is: Getting cancer wasn’t your fault. Getting into an accident might not have been your fault. Or maybe it was. Ego wants to blame you for everything. It has you feeling bad for being sick, shaming you and making you feel like you are a burden on your loved ones. It has you being at fault for pretty much everything.
This is when we start to see through the illusion that we control our lives.
What I notice is that ego loves to take credit for when things go my way AND it loves to beat me up with blame and negativity when things don’t go my way. There’s nothing but ego, either way. There’s no room or space. It wants to control everything.
What’s the way out?
Begin to take yourself out of the center of your life.
Begin to dis-identify with ego and that voice in your head that wants to both get credit for everything you do that’s good and wants to beat you up for everything in your life that is bad.
If things are going well in your life — if you’ve taken actions and worked hard and are having some success — learn to just marvel at that and be grateful. Say wow! Say look at that! Say I’m so appreciative of this happening in my life. I’m so grateful.
Yes it might feel like you “did” it, like you “created” that success.
It also could just be a big fat stroke of luck. Either way, you’ll never know.
Choose whatever interpretation gives you the power to be kind to yourself and gives you more energy to practice and do more of what you want to do. (Remember: what you do is what you get.) But don’t fully buy into the illusion that you (your ego) did it. Your ego certainly did not do it. It will take the credit after the thing is done, but wasn’t it the same part of you that was complaining and throwing obstacles in your way the whole time you were working on the thing, trying to distract you and derail you.
Go ahead and believe that you create the success if that gives you power to keep taking action but put a big asterisks beside the word “you.”
You were helped by so many other forces in the universe — seen and unseen. I am sure you can think of some of them. Maybe you had loving parents who at a young age instilled a sense of safety and security and confidence in you. Not everyone in the world has that, god knows. So you were helped by that conditioning when you were younger whether you chose to acknowledge it now, 40 years later, or not. It played a part. And there are a million, a billion other little things in the world that contributed to your success.
Learn to marvel at the successes and moments of good fortune in an awestruck and grateful way not in an ego reinforcing kind of way.