Why self-enquiry is essential in creating solid foundations
When we think of ‘ego’, we quickly think of being ‘egocentric’, big-headed, arrogant, and basically full of ourselves. But our ego is also the one who tells us we are not good enough, and that we’ll never succeed in what we’re doing. It both lifts us up, and puts us down. Our ego, in short, is a pest. It either feeds on Likes and pats on the back, only to then gallop ahead of us like a price horse thinking we are the best thing since sliced bread…or it chokes on judgement from others, only to then drown in self-pity. How can we deal with such a thing?
The ego. In spiritual terms, the ego is something we are meant to work on, so that it becomes smaller, and is replaced by a focus on the self. When your ego is less in the forefront, and your self is more present, you generally feel more peaceful, more compassionate and less sensitive to outer validation.
As entrepreneurs it is very easy to fall into the ego-trap and go on an ego-trip. Your built your business, you have your first successes, you make yourself visible online, get lots of Likes, work on your branding…it is all very outward, and the ego loves it. The engagament, the compliments, the confidence-boost, it’s a wonderful feeling. But while the ego is hungry for more boosts, it also becomes more vulnerable to criticism and self-doubt. “Am I still seen? Do people still like what I do? What are my peers doing? Am I good enough?”
Riding a horse and holding the reigns
I went on a shamanic retreat this month, and one of the women leading it had a great metaphor for the ego. “The ego”, she said, “Is like a horse. You are on top of it and are trying to keep it in check. You are holding the reigns, and every time your horse wants to gallop away – or you find your ego reacting to something – you pull in the reigns.” I found this a very helpful explanation and have used it several times since to become more aware of my ego.
I actually found that my ego reacted way more often than I initially thought. In a conversation, in making a judgement, in sharing an opinion, in choosing things, even in expressing myself creatively. Try it for yourself, you’ll be surprised how often you’ll be pulling in those reigns as you notice your ego taking over.
While this is a tough practice – and please don’t feel bad about having an ego, we all do – it is an important exercise if we want to develop our true self and feel comfortable with who we are at soul level, and why we do what we do. But while we are on this entrepreneurial adventure, self-enquiry and inner work, in my opinion (oh wait, is that my ego talking?), are vital in growing a sustainable business that is joyful, heart-felt and aligned with who we are deep down. If the ego is too much in the way and mainly feeding on outer validation, your business will be built on wobbly foundations.
How to shut up the ego and find your true self
Visualising the ego as a horse with you holding the reigns is a helpful tool in daily conversations and activities. But to develop the self, you’ll have to find a way in which you can ignore the ego. The ego is a chatterbox! This works best while meditating, sitting silently on your own with some quiet music, journaling or going for a walk in nature. You know, the usual mindful stuff. Once you are able to quieten down the ego, look deeper within to discover what lies underneath all that noise. Who are you really? Behind all the self-doubt, seeking of outer validation and stories in your head…who are you? And what is the true reason that you feel called to do your work?
Why do you want or do this? Is it sincere? Do you feel a real calling? What do you want to share for no other reason than the joy you feel while doing it?
This work is important if we want to be fully aligned with the work we do and all the effort we put in. To make things flow and attract the right kind of client. What do you feel when you work on your business? Who are you doing it for? If you focus on serving people because you feel in your heart that you are called to do this work, it feels different from serving people because you just want to earn money, or become someone your parents can be proud of. Try and become aware of the origin of why you wish to initiate and manifest something.
Of course, as a side note, income as a motivator cannot be ignored. We all need to pay the bills. As a friend and furniture maker quite rightly commented on my Instagram; “It’s been an endlessly rewarding career but yes, the need to put food on the table, pay the mortgage and keep your head above water is quite a strong motivator too!”
Still, I believe that when all systems are in place, and your business is fully aligned with your true self, then attracting clients – and being rewarded for your work – is so much easier. The foundations are solid, you are clear in your head about what you want, your output is resonating, and you feel safe and secure in yourself. You know who you are and you know what you are here to do. You are detached from what others think, you act from a place of love and a true calling to create and serve. When we let go of the need for outer validation and only create from our authentic self, with an open heart, our best work appears.
Trust. Serve. Detach. Rinse. Repeat. 🌸🐢🍀🧡
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