What you see as your life story is only a story. It’s your experience. A place where you grew up with your siblings and your parents. The home and the town and your first-grade teacher.
We don’t have the insight when we are young to know that our spirit sits in a body with a brain, observing each moment as it passes. The body serves as a vehicle to explore the human experience. The ego serves as an interface between the spirit and the outer world. Without it, we would be unaware of our own existence.
You are not just your story. You are more than that. You can unlearn the errors that cause you suffering and stress, and free yourself to greater life.
Accept Your Past Mistakes & Rise Above Your Life Story
We often feel locked into and limited by our life story. But this self-limiting thought or feeling only leaves us chained to our past. A lot of people say, “The past is past; there’s nothing you can do about it.” I don’t think that’s true.
We can do something about the past: We can rise above it by understanding that early learning stems from touching hot stoves or tripping on stairs. Once we understand and accept our past mistakes and pain, we can enjoy a rebirth and an inner radar, the sixth sense, to guide us. I say we can gather our full powers once we learn how to handle the stress and suffering that hold back the full life that deeper self-knowledge can bring us.
New Opportunities to Learn About Ourselves
Every time you find yourself upset by something around you, whatever it is, you’re being presented with a new opportunity to learn about yourself. If you’re mulling over something stinging and nasty aimed at you, take this as a roundabout opportunity for you to weigh the situation and find gold.
A wise friend once told me, when you find yourself in bed trying to fall asleep and unable to let go of some event or slight that took place that day, it sticks there because it has learning potential for you. Whatever sticks must have some meaning. A good place to start mining that meaning is to ask yourself, What upsets me about this? What part of this is my own doing? Was there a hidden benefit?
Taking Inventory & Taking Responsibility
In order to uncover the meaning of your upset, you must first take inventory and then responsibility for your part in the upset. To start taking responsibility, look for the button that got pushed — something you might not be used to doing. Identifying which button got pushed will allow you to begin owning your behavior. Admitting your part — to yourself or to others — is hard.
What are you avoiding? Many people avoid taking ownership of their choices — they fear criticism, even from themselves. Grasping the “why” of your unwillingness to change allows you to face hurdles that deter you from your goal. Once you uncover the meaning of your unwillingness to change and your part in the upset, you begin to see through your distress.
This unwillingness may mirror a belief held deep within that we are not enough . Why must we defend our position by fighting or getting upset? We are as worthy now as on the day we were born. Even though this sense of inferiority lives only in our minds, it is a living part of our human experience.
Healing & Understanding Your "inferior self"
Don’t allow your inferior self to run off with you, but rather see it as a part you need to understand and heal. These upset states defend you against a sense of failure and uselessness. Once you see that your self-worth doesn’t depend on others’ approval but rather on self-approval, you have found a large part of the truth.
Ego, a sense of self and necessary axis for human endeavor, gets a bad rap when you see it only as self-centeredness. I see ego as a crossing point that allows my spirit to experience the natural and human worlds about me. My ego indeed catches the smell of the birthday bowl of roses I gave my sweetheart last night that she’s all smiles about over morning coffee.
Without an ego, there would be no “I” and “you”; there would be no experience of self. It’s the interacting of two egos, two minds, that creates the experience of joy as well as pain. Rivalry between egos causes much suffering. But ego isn’t the problem. The challenge lies in mastering the ego, not ridding ourselves of it.
Unlearning Our Learned Errors: You Are Enough!
Much of the suffering we experience comes from learned errors that hopefully we later unlearn. The overwhelming error we learn is that something’s missing and that if we search hard enough outside ourselves, we will find the missing strength. “Am I enough?” Ego speaks to us since infancy and lets us see and know ourselves in the world around us. That sense of self regulates us and offers a constant feedback loop. What does ego tell us? Are you enough, or not?
Young people grow up forever assigning value to everything, from lipstick to job titles and language skills: That’s “more than.” That’s “less than.” When we weigh values against outer, not inner, standards, we enter a never-ending quest for self-worth in external achievement and the perfect ion that forever eludes us. Because we see our life circumstances as unfinished, and thus imperfect, we see ourselves as imperfect. We dream that some right step taken will lead us into self-fulfillment.
Our human challenges are just that, human challenges. You are enough. You always have been. Pause and retrace your mind’s steps. Don’t just react. Challenge lends strength even in times of darkness. Understand your choices of action and break free. You are more than that.
©2013 by Rajiv Juneja. All Rights Reserved,
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Hay House Inc. www.hayhouse.com
This article was adapted with permission from the book:
You Are More Than That: A Guide to Embracing the Spiritual Being Within and Becoming Fully Human -- by Rajiv Juneja M.D. (Hay House, 2013)
Our lives can follow a different story than one that leaves us restless and unfulfilled, and we need not repeat behavior that defeats growth. I’m More Than That looks into your richest strategies for coping with yourself and becoming fully purposeful beyond mere comfort zones. Even if we may fall short of our hopes and expectations, Dr. Raj shows that we are better than we think and can find strength through greater self-understanding. A new you is within arm’s reach once you face your fears of falling short. You are more than that.
About the Author
Rajiv Juneja, M.D., M.S., is double board-certified in adult psychiatry and addiction medicine. Prior to attending St. George’s University School of Medicine, he underwent graduate training in neurosciences at Northwestern University. Recently, Dr. Raj completed a fellowship at the University of Arizona, studying integrative and alternative medicine under Dr. Andrew Weil. He currently chairs the committee on public education for the American Psychiatry Association’s New Jersey chapter. Dr. Raj practices adult psychiatry, addiction psychiatry, and integrative psychiatry and is an individual and family therapist in New York and New Jersey. Website: www.thedrraj.com