My Ego & INov 19, 2021
You might not have ever heard about 'Ego Work', I certainly hadn't before a few years ago. Then my Ego took a huge hit- I burnt out in my role as a General Practitioner. I simply couldn't keep going despite every past experience of my life to that point telling me that I could "push through anything".
I couldn't tell you specifically what stopped me from pushing through at that point- my mind was overwhelmed on so many levels that I couldn't even decide what I wanted to eat for breakfast and my body helpfully presented me with a series of debilitating panic attacks that stopped me from physically getting out my front door. Despite this, I still had this sense at the time that I "should keep going" and in fact had probably pushed through many indicators I was burning out in the months preceding that point. But I didn't keep going that particular day. I stopped. Or more aptly, I fell in a heap. Still on reflection now, I'm not able to tell you what the actual "breaking point" was. Death by a million paper cuts perhaps?
It took me many months of psychological work after actually stepping back from my job in clinical medicine before my own Ego let me accept that slowing down was really an option. Even as I slowly made my way through life and my recovery- working with my amazing treating team and starting the process of understanding and then eventually rebuilding, I still tortured myself with the thought "I don't deserve to burn out".
We really can be terrible to ourselves can't we??
As I embarked on my recovery, I started to do a lot of reading into the concepts of the Self and the Ego as well as the practice of self compassion. As a doctor, I was very used to spending a lot of time learning about new concepts, but the idea of spending any amount of time learning about myself was completely foreign to me. As I opened this door within myself to be honest, I didn't really like what I saw. I saw someone who really wanted to do good in the world and to help others- who at the same time also craved the external validation that came from being needed. That double edged sword of virtue and desire making me realise that the driver of needing to feel needed came from my own Ego.
Now our Ego's aren't bad things. They're simply a reflection of the stories the world has told us about ourselves, the knocks we've taken and the journey we've been on. But by being unaware of the stories my own Ego told me about being unworthy and needing to always be perfect to be happy or accepted- it began to lead the show. What starts as an altruistic path can always be veered off course by a misunderstood Ego. So in my recovery from burning out, I began to work specifically on these stories that my Ego told me. The ones that I was over compensating to try and drown out. I did some schema therapy work with my psychologist, lots of reading and I meditated. I learned how to sit alongside that voice within me that told me I was only worthy when I kept pushing ahead at all costs.
Time spent in self reflection is not self indulgent. It is a process full of uncomfortable realisations and hard truths. It often requires support to do for this very reason. Growth comes from self reflection when we learn how to face these uncomfortable truths with self compassion.
If this is a journey you're interested in embarking on, find the support crew that helps you to do that. Speak to your family or trusted friends, your GP, a psychologist or counsellor. This is also a process that can be supported through the coaching journey too. Coaching isn't about giving you answers, it's about walking with you and helping to facilitate your own process of discovery as you begin to untangle these threads for yourself. There is no one way to do things, find the right path for you.
If you would like to learn more about working with me for life & growth coaching please follow this link.
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