“Loneliness is proof that your innate search for connection is intact.” -Martha Beck
Last week’s post was about the self-inflicted cage of isolation that people sometimes find themselves in. This is the isolation that is felt because although they may be physically surrounded by people, they do not feel emotionally connected to them. What is blocking the emotional connection and how do people develop the courage to open the door to their cage and reconnect with life? I believe we need to explore the role of the ego. I envision us as people as having two distinct aspects. We have our authentic self and we have the ego. The authentic self is the aspect of us that is genuine and true. Religions call it our soul. When we are acting from our authentic self we feel good about the decisions we make and our actions are in alignment with our core values and beliefs. When we are in our ego we are usually justifying, defending and protecting ourselves from embarrassment or harm of any kind. The ego is fear based thoughts, the authentic self is love based. I envision it as two separate layers with the ego on the outer layer, just like a cage, and the authentic self on the inner. To get beyond the ego layer, the cage door must open which allows us to reach into our authentic self. True connection can only happen at the authentic level. When we interact with someone who is in ego state with their cage door shut, they come across as phony. They are either saying ‘look how great I am’ or the flip side of the ego, ‘look how terrible I am.’ They either boast about what they do, or they are the victim of everything that happens to them. It is difficult to connect with someone who is in an ego state and unfortunately for the person stuck in ego state, they have lost connection with their own authentic self which makes it difficult for them to connect with others. It is almost as if the door to their cage is shut and they have forgotten that they have the key to open it up. When we get stuck in ego, the voice of doubt broadcasts so loud that it drowns out the voice of our authentic self. The ego has no awareness of the authentic self, so once we are completely in the ego state it is like we forgot that we can choose to open the door to connect authentically. It takes a lot of courage for the ego to open that cage door when it is screaming for you to keep it locked tight, but once we open it up it gives us the freedom to authentically connect once again. So, the secret to getting out of the self-inflicted cage of isolation? Recognizing that we are in the cage in the first place and remembering that we can choose to open it up the moment we are ready to truly connect.