“Love’s gonna get you killed, but pride’s gonna be the death of you and you and me….”-Kendrick Lamar, Damn. 2017
The Internet is a Cali-based band who released an album in 2015 titled Ego Death. I loved the album for all its grooves, features, and overall bangability. What I loved even more was the title of the album. A death to the ego. Sounds like such a fun voyage of self-discovery and reconciliation right? I love a good journey of self-discovery. The part that I politely skipped over was how painful the death of the ego, aka the death of one’s pride, truly is.
It’s necessary though.
In yoga, many of my favorite teachers talk about surrendering. Surrendering to the will of the universe, surrendering to reality, just surrendering to all the things. Sounded good in yoga while I’m relaxed and breathing rhythmically and all that jazz. Sounds less good when the actual surrendering part comes up.
For me, the most difficult part is recognizing my pride for what it is in the moment. Asking myself the hard questions of am I validly hurt and conflicted about this or am I protecting my pride because my feelings got hurt? Or how humble and submissive am I willing to be when those around me are acting out of pride and defensiveness?
What I have come to learn in my 27 years is that pride is not that useful of an emotion. It just isn’t. That being said, it’s necessary to acknowledge that is has served its purposes in my life. I’m a competitor at heart. I like winning, I like seeing the fruits of my hard work blossom into yet another testament to my awesomeness. And as great as that is, life is not a competition. There are no winners in relationships. There are no winners in love and there are definitely no champions when it comes to family and the ones you love.
And yet, many times I treat it as such. I do my best to prove how great of a girlfriend, daughter, auntie, or nanny I am and am effectually devastated when I receive feedback about my performance. Not because the ones around me have set an unnatural standard or because they’re giving unnecessarily harsh criticism (which can be the case in a lot of scenarios) but because I have put myself on such an impossibly high pedestal that anything outside of the plan feels like an attack on my status or my performance. When most of the time they don’t give two gahtdamns about my performance they just want me to improve, to grow, and to flourish. So much of my feels and my general defensiveness is tied to my pride that it’s ridiculous.
If you truly want to be a champion of any sort, you have got to let the ego go. Not just let it go but kill it, like stomp it in the ground and throw the remains in the nearest body of water because it does not serve you.
Bri are you saying I should just relinquish the notion of full control of my life and become a better listener and person by accepting life as it comes?
It sounds scary, I know. So much of life we’re taught to ‘lean in’ and ‘take control of our lives’ and that’s fine and good where applicable but some things you just can’t control. Some things you just can’t prepare for. And sometimes you’re wrong. You just are.
And that’s quite okay.
Fighting, clawing, and screaming won’t help it though. Could definitely set you back though. Like there’s a high probability that you not coping with your reality will cause you to fail, or at the very least drive you insane.
We hate to think that we’re mere props in the game of life but there is some truth to that notion. A play will go on without one person, that’s why they have understudies. Just as such, whether you choose to accept your life for what it is and the punches it may throw at you or opt out, life will go on. That thing you’re grappling with will continue to happen and the clock will keep moving forward. So let’s all save ourselves the anxiety and depression that comes with sticking to our pride and the desire to have things our way and learn to be still.
The best thing I could’ve done after hurricane Katrina hit was to sit down, put my earphones in my ear, and say this situation sucks and I hate but I’m not getting my life back so time to start working on something new. Granted, an event that huge and traumatizing does not leave a lot of room for self-assertion but a conscious relinquishing of control occurred nonetheless.
I know it’s hard to let folks who tryna play you slide. There’s always the great fear of loving something or surrendering to something and ending up feeling played and used. That’s a valid concern. It’s also a completely unavoidable occurrence that you have virtually no input on. You gave it your best and if it doesn’t work out (that relationship, that job, that hope, that dream) then it doesn’t. You’ll get a new one. We always do. Sometimes you just gotta take that risk and jump on out the window (like Sally did in The Nightmare Before Christmas when she was tryna help Jack’s delusional self become Santa Claus, I digress though).
It’s hard to see things from other people’s perspectives. It’s hard to emotionally detach from what your ego is pushing to clearly hear what others or the universe or God is saying.
But you know what else was hard?
Calculus…and we all made it through that one so mount up my G’s and go out and be better people. Life is not a game, not a chess match, not a quest to be won.
It is what it is.
With all the best wishes and deep breathing exercises on deck,