Looking for Real Transformation—Check Your Ego at the Door
What does it really take to shift and to transform into a fresh, new version of your best self?
We say we want change. Some of us say we want to change. And while anyone can say this, the point is change is work. Transformation isn’t glitter and sparkle and lightning—those are the byproducts of the process, the magic that others see in us once the work has begun. At its core, real transformation requires effort, determination, focus and commitment.
Talking about change is easy; making a change is a challenge.
Whether we point the finger at Hollywood movies, fairy tales, social media, or at “the way things should be,” the truth is, deep down, we all want sunshine, rainbows and happy endings. We all want to be liked and loved and appreciated.
We all want others to embrace our best and excuse our worst. Better yet, we pretend there is no “worst.” All of us, at some level, want to succeed and be recognized for our success.
Here’s the thing: shifting and transforming doesn’t look like a happy ending.
The end result can be happiness, yes. The process, though, the actual work we put in to make shifts and transformation happen, can feel elusive, painful, unsteady, hopeless and terrifying all at the same time. Old patterns are difficult to shake, even under the best circumstances. Toss uncertainty and discomfort into the mix, and it feels as though we’re thrashing in a tangle of nets, struggling even to breathe at times, as we fight desperately to free ourselves. Sounds like fun, right?
One of the keys, for me anyway, has been learning to recognize when my ego walks into the room. Releasing my emotional baggage, especially an old pattern of needing to be right, has allowed me to be free of some of the gasping struggle.
In order to do that, I first had to identify and recognize my baggage by being honest with myself. We all have situations that trigger old patterns within us. Our response is not only emotional, but also physical. The more emotionally attached we are to the pattern or the baggage, the stronger the physical response.
When I began to awaken within myself, I became aware of the physical manifestations of my old patterns. I could feel my heart pounding, my breath shortening, my shoulders rising, my chest and back tightening, even my facial expressions changing. These are patterned and protective responses, readying me for fight or flight, neither of which allows for the conscious leaning in required for true and consistent shifting and transforming.
Once I could identify the physical aspects of my old patterns, I was able to recognize them as they began. Being aware and staying present helped me stop those responses in their tracks, to give myself time and headspace to calm the inner chatter and collect my thoughts.
This now enables me to choose my next move rather than being swept up in an emotional shit storm with a knee jerk response. When I catch myself tightening and can consciously take even three deliberate, deep, slow breaths (or more, depending on the situation), I can clear my mind and take time to decide: what is the next right thing? When I make a choice to change my response—to act from a place of compassionate awareness rather than fearful autopilot—I let go of my ego-driven defensive stance and can open to new possibilities.
Life requires effort, there’s no denying that. The beauty is we get to choose how we see this. We don’t always get to choose what happens along the way, yet we choose how we respond. We get to decide whether we’re going to stick with the old reflexive patterns or write a new story line. How would you like your chapter to read?