Updated: Mar 21, 2020
“We don’t hear what someone said; we imagine what they meant.”- Byron Katie
FILTERING THE INFORMATION WE RECEIVE
Byron Katie’s quote highlights the root of so much conflict, and offers insight into how we might be able to communicate more effectively with one another, as well as gain more insight about our selves.
We assign an imaginary meaning to what we hear others saying, based on our personal experience, which colors the lens of everything we look through. The words that are spoken, and the meaning behind them are obliterated by our own imperfect filtration system. We latch on to what we imagine is being said, thus dishonoring the experience of the person speaking.
WHAT IS THE EGO?
Over the course of our lives, we develop our ego to protect us. Layers of egoic influence begin to form around all our experiences, including the system, society and culture in which we live, as well as our wounds and our pain; from there, we shape an identity based on what we perceive from our experiences.
THE BENEFITS AND DRAWBACKS OF THE EGO
The ego does also serve us from a spiritual standpoint: it creates the identity from which we live out our purpose, and offers opportunities for healing through awareness and humility.
However, in identifying with the ego-self, we also separate from the whole. The sense of isolation we feel becomes a part of the wound from which we are operating, and when the ego is challenged, it attempts to protect the formed-identity, at all costs.
We grab hold of what we think is important (the part as related to us, and our wound) and amplify its message. We respond only to what we imagined the meaning to be, often a delusional interpretation, triggering the ego to become defensive and protective, and missing the opportunity to hear the experience and feelings of the person speaking.
If we only hear the words of others through the filter of ego, it is bound to cause conflict, as the ego must defend our identity at all costs. Even though the ego-identity is often formed responses to painful or wounding experiences, which are no longer present, we cling to the "story" of who we are.
LEARNING THROUGH AWARENESS OF THE EGO
Armed with this awareness, how can we hear others better? How can we bring more awareness to the self and the lens through which we perceive?
When we listen, we must purposely drop out of ego, and drop into the heart. And we must actually know how to do that, and understand the difference between how it feels to be connected to ego, and how it feels to be connected to your Soul, in your physical body. So that your physical responses become a guide to your own awareness.
HOW TO DROP OUT OF EGO
When you know the typical responses of the Ego, you will begin to identify it as it arises.
The Ego is present whenever:
You think you are "right" and another is "wrong" You judge someone else as better or worse than youYou assign a meaning of superiority or inferiority to yourselfYou blame others You compare yourself to othersYou feel "triggered" You react rather than respond
You must bring awareness to these egoic reactions in yourself (although you may first begin to identify them in others... be wary of that trap! Pointing the finger and casting someone else in a negative light for being in their ego, is YOUR ego's way of protecting itself!), and begin to recognize what it feels like in your body when your Ego is in the driving seat.
If you close your eyes for a moment, take a deep breath, and drop your inner awareness into the space of your heart - you have an opportunity to create healing.
HOW TO RECOGNIZE YOUR HIGHER SELF
You are connected to your Higher Self whenever:
You admit you were "wrong"You honor another person's feelings without dismissing them in any wayYou accept the discomfort that comes along with admitting you were in your EgoYou step out of blaming or judging othersYou look for an opportunity to better your SelfYou commit to making appropriate changes to prevent harming yourself and othersYou refuse to engage in gossipYou work to see another's point of view You see another as a reflection of yourselfYou look for the healing and learning opportunities
Being in Ego vice the Higher Self, feels totally different in your body. We must practice noticing when the ego arises, so that we can purposely work to drop in to the Higher Self, and from that space, listen and hear what is truly being said.
Have patience with yourself and others throughout this process. It takes time, effort, and commitment to seeing how your ego-story influences your perception, and find the opportunities for healing.