“I, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, do solemnly swear . . .”
as I am running with my children headed toward Eleanor and dinner awaiting us at our summer home in Canada.
Later in the evening after dinner, I am not feeling well and retire to bed for the evening. I will never walk again without leg braces. I am privileged to descend into a crucible – an unspeakable mystery –
“that I will faithfully execute the office of the President”
Floating in a pool of healing water in Warm Springs, Georgia, on a lovely spring day – opening my eyes, I can see white puffy clouds set in a vibrant blue sky. I can hear screams of play and laughter of children, touched by polio as my life has. We are all experiencing the grace of weightlessness – no up, nor down; no left, nor right.
I once held positions as New York State Senator as well as Assistant Secretary of the Navy during the war to end all wars.
Now I show these children how to face polio and all its likely shame and terror. Right here at Warm Springs, we travel together, as I did years earlier, to find a way to freedom through nature, work, humor, and love. The power I have come to know from the bitter journey from lifeless paralysis and hiding in humiliation to courageously overcoming infirmity through ecstasy and love. Heavenly as floating may be as a regular citizen . . .
“. . . of the United States of America . . .”
I choose to return to my former occupation as a political leader, knowing well the slings and arrows of grave misfortune that befall men of prominence and stature. I will wholeheartedly . . .
“and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. . .”
in a time of unfathomable darkness – 25% of workers unemployed, all banks closed in almost all the states, and much of our national wealth evaporated in a devastating financial crash.
Yet the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
“So help me God.”
C.G. Jung wrote: “Only those people who really can touch bottom can truly be human.”
Please watch this video by creative writing professor, Nils Peterson, on the two secrets of writing poetry:
“Thoroughly unprepared, we take the step into the afternoon of life. Worse still, we take this step with the false presupposition that our truths and our ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning, for what was great in the morning will be little at evening and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie.” Quote by Carl Jung
Our lives have different eras. What was true when we are young is a lie at midlife. When we are young our lives are focused on educating ourselves, obtaining work, and finding love. These are the appropriate tasks of our early life. We may get married and have children.
Our initial experience of religion is often about certainty. It creates meaning about being a separate individual. If we practice the correct rituals and believe the correct rules – dogma – then we will be saved. Someone translates other people’s experience of God. Yet this level of religion does not change the consciousness of the person. It is all about me – saving myself. This level of spirituality consoles the self and this is needed. It defends us. The problem is that we can use this type of religion to not become a more loving person. I can justify our self-centeredness.
Spirituality can also be transformative. As a young person we need to develop our ego boundaries by separating from our parents. We need to leave home psychologically and develop an identity of our own. We need to distinguish our values from those of our parents and friends. It is important to have meaningful work to do.
About 35 to 45, we reach midlife. Jung called this the afternoon of life. We have the opportunity to grow into a deeper consciousness not possible in our younger years. Richard Rohr says: “This process of transformation does not fortify the separate self, but utterly shatters it. Not consolation but devastation. Not entrenchment, but emptiness. Not complacency, but explosion. Not comfort, but revolution. In short – not a conventional bolstering of my usual consciousness, but a radical transmutation and transformation at the deepest seat of consciousness itself.” Our transformation comes indirectly, “catching us off guard and out of control. We have to be empty instead of full.”
Richard Rohr goes on to say: “The lust for certitude. The lust for answers the last 500 years of the Western Church has not served us well. Once we lost our spirituality of darkness for light, there just wasn’t as much room for growth any more. Everything was . . . words.”
Our journey of spirituality inevitable leads inward. There are many paths on this inward spiritual journey, but they all lead to an experience of the divine. This conscious knowing leads us outward again toward others. We are willing to risk vulnerability to join with others in intimacy. Our spirituality isn’t about looking good, but simply loving others. Please watch this video by Bob Epperly on centering prayer to discover one of many paths inward toward the center of our being:
“What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.” Thomas Merton
Our world is changing ever faster. Facebook, the iPhone, YouTube, the WiFi internet, Twitter, and Instagram give us a connected world with lots of instant information available. These and other changes complicate our lives in many ways. We may be busier than ever. Our children often are doing homework later into the night. The family structure is breaking down, and we see changes in marriage and sexuality. The values that we assumed made us unified are changing because of the great diversity we see in not only America, but throughout the world. As we cope with the impact of these changes and many more, we encounter stress in our bodies.
In the middle of all these changes globally, we still face the challenges of adult development. Frederick Hudson writes: “Most grown-ups know very little about the territory of their (later) adult years.”
This becomes more important as our life expectancy grows. The changes in lifestyle and medicine enables us to live much longer. We often waste our most valuable resource – citizens over fifty year of age. Corporations too often want to eliminate older workers. Our cultural assumption – in the United States – is that aging is bad and as we age we lose much more than we gain. Robert Lifton says, “There is a special quality of life-power available only to those seasoned by struggles of four or more decades. . . . The life-power of this stage can be especially profound.”
Carl Jung viewed the second half of life as a time of immense growth and development. It is a time for personal introspection, reevaluation of our lives, and dynamic spiritual discovery. We may assume that we need to decide on our work and marital partner by our late 20’s. Wow, that is a lot of pressure! Most of us are engaged in several different types of jobs in our working lives. Sometimes this happens by our choice. And there are times when someone chooses for us, saying: “You are fired.”
As our income changes, we need to reassess our lifestyle and adjust our spending. Our assumption that we would simply continue to earn more money endlessly may have been false. The larger world economy also affects us all as we learned in 2008 with the financial crash.
“For centuries, it was the understanding that when people became adults, they stopped growing and became fixed as predictable, responsible persons the rest of their lives,” writes Frederick Hudson. “Growing was over. The adult years were shaped by the personality and experiences of the child.”
Our lives are a heroic adventure. Life after fifty can be rich in many ways. Robert Epperly wrote his very personal and open book, “Growing Up After Fifty: From Exxon Executive to Spiritual Seeker,” about his journey after midlife. Please enjoy this video about his book:
Do you know your business?
The organizations where we work have a character like the people in our lives. There is a pattern to the way a company or other type of institution operates. Even separate departments of an organization have a way of doing things. This organizational character can either refer to an entire company or to just part of the organization, like the Marketing department.
William Bridges asserts that certain factors contribute to the character of an organization. The person or people who founded the organization have a big influence over the character of an organization. The industry within which the organization does business influences the way it operates. A hospital has a very different corporate culture from an accounting firm. The product or service offered from organization to customers will influence the character of the organization. The predominant profession of the organization is another influence. A law firm tends to operate very differently from a hair salon.
The fact that the organization is a business influences the nature of the business. The employees that are hired is another factor that determines the culture of the organization. The leaders that come after the founder have an influence over the organization. The history of the organization also is an important factor influencing the character of the organization. If the organization faces bankruptcy, then this historical fact is part of how people make decisions and relate to each other in the organization in the future.
Whether the organization is a hospital, school, business or non-profit, like Habitat for Humanity, it has life cycle. I live in the Santa Clara Valley where ambitious people found start-up organizations. These organizations emerge from the dreams of its founders. Over time, organizations develop the structures and procedures to make the business more routine and efficient. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple Computer in a garage. A couple miles from my office is the Apple Computer building which is the main office of one of the most financially valuable organizations in the world.
Organizations also have an emotional climate, and it can be measured. The Work Environment Scale can measure the dynamics of the work environment. The emotion intelligence of a work environment determines the performance of a work team. Organizations, like individual people, can be more or less mature. Understanding the work environment in which you work has a big impact on your effectiveness in the organization. You have to know your business is an old expression. This is more relevant than ever.
Learning how to manage the person for whom you work is an important set of skills to achieve success in an organization. Please watch this video by Bob Epperly on how to manage up:
Some of the symptoms of depression include low energy, irritability, sadness, physical pain, low self-esteem, self-criticism, hopelessness, crying, and changes in eating and sleeping. The source of these symptoms can be biological, psychological, social or spiritual. One can suffer from low blood sugar or a low level of testosterone. Our beliefs can contribute to symptoms of depression. A bad marriage can lead to these symptoms. We may be in a spiritual crisis, lacking meaning in our life. As we transition from one set of beliefs about reality to another set of beliefs, we often feel loss.
When we experience loss, consciously experiencing and expressing our sadness enables us to integrate the loss. Expressing anger is also a part of the process of grieving loss. When we resist our feelings, we may feel numb. When people experience depression, they often describe their bodies as feeling numb. Often we avoid consciously experiencing our emotions and expressing them, when we fear being overwhelmed by them. When we fear being overwhelmed by emotions, we find ways to block our feelings. Often, these are not conscious choices to not feel.
Most often, we learned early in our lives to control our feelings by developing defenses. We may breathe in a shallow way and tighten our muscles to resist emotions. These defenses to consciously experiencing our sadness or anger can lead to depressive symptoms.
Unfortunately, feeling depressed is pretty awful. Depression is not good for our physical health. We can learn to express our feelings. One way to do this is with another person who is comfortable with emotion and affirms your experience of your emotions. In this way, we have a corrective emotional experience which enables us to learn to consciously experience and express our feelings.
Music is an outstanding way to consciously experience feelings. “When the time comes that you’re ready to begin facing your emotions, music that speaks to your heart can help you begin to release your pain,” writes Maureen Draper.
I can pick music which enables me to cry. The process of crying enables me to move forward with my grief and integrate the reality of my life without my beloved. When I hear a John Denver song, I often think of my dad. We can associate certain songs or musicians with a loved one who has passed on. Maureen writes: “Music that reminds you of a loved one brings to the surface whatever may not have been finished or unsaid between you.”
Art of all kinds, be it paintings, poems, stories, film or music, can evoke emotion. Great art reaches us emotionally, and we vicariously experience something important to us. This is why we can be so drawn to a certain author or musician. The beauty of art can move us in countless ways. We can cry with awe when listen to Adagio with Strings by Barber. We may experience exhilaration or hope when listening to Mozart or the Beatles.
Listening to music can be profoundly comforting. The music from our childhood can bring us feelings of being protected and nurtured by our parents as a child. I can remember the song, “Puff the Magic Dragon” from my childhood. Many songs from this era remind me of the emotions of my childhood.
When we are alone with our grief in the middle of the night, music can help us feel the comfort of being in our mother’s arms as a child. Music from early in a relationship with our husband or wife can bring up the emotions of falling in love, which are very healthy for our bodies.
We can use music to – in a sense – move backward in time to recapture hidden emotions and memories. Some may wish to feel the feeling of safety by imagining being held by the divine during our darkest hour of pain. Music can remind us of this kind of love.
Perhaps, finding the core of who we are is the most powerful dynamic to resolving depressive symptoms. Music is a powerful elixir to find the essence of our self. Please watch this video by pianist and author, Maureen Draper, about music and depression:
An important part of psychological well-being is healthy self-soothing. Being able to calm yourself down is important. When someone feels too much anger, he may yell, curse, or hit someone else. Acting out our emotions destructively is one consequence of poor emotional regulation. Another way of dealing with painful emotions is to try to numb ourselves with alcohol or other drugs. Many problems result from our inability to regulate our feelings well.
When we are born, we rely on our mother (or primary caregivers) to calm down. Our brain is designed to rely on interactions with others to find balance and adjust to surrounding circumstances. Early in life, infants need connections to caregivers in order to develop healthy brain function. The interactions between the child and parent enable the child to achieve balance or regulation within her own mind. Interactions with caregivers allow the child’s brain to develop the structures necessary to move from emotional regulation with a parent to more independent forms of emotional regulation.
When children who are infants, toddlers, and preschoolers experience healthy emotional regulation in their relationships with their mom, they become school children who are seen by peers and teachers as likeable. These children also perform well in school, show good social skills, and act in ways that build their relationships with others. But children with poor emotion socialization have difficulty in peer relationships, have trouble in school, and are at risk for emotional problems such as anxiety and depression during their childhood. These effects persist into adulthood.
Children need environments, like home and school, where they can be emotionally expressive. Children need parents who express their emotions, but do not overwhelm their children. A mother’s emotions have a powerful influence on her child’s emotional development. Children benefit when mothers talk about their own emotions. When their children are emotional, mothers who avoid yelling and punishing and provide positive responses to their children, enable their children understand their emotions better. Children also need their emotions to be accepted. When children are raised in an environment where they learn to explore their own emotions, and they learn to make connections between their emotional experience and events they see. They are able to understand their emotions in various situations.
After they reach school age, children who assess and process emotional information will in turn respond more appropriately to others and have skills that promote their own emotion self-soothing. The more emotional intelligence that children have, the greater their empathy they have with peers. These children also behave in ways that promote relationships, and they are more popular. The children who can identify their emotions and who self-sooth them well are seen as more likable and more prosocial in relationships with their peers. These early emotional experiences are a foundation for emotional intelligence.
When we are feeling highly emotional, we are in a state of emotional imbalance. An event with the people or events around us can trigger an emotional reaction. These emotional reactions are made more likely by past experiences that created vulnerabilities within the individual. These vulnerabilities are embedded in our memory and directly influence our thoughts, feelings, and choices.
Our emotions and affect influence what we see and hear. Our perceptions can be changed by the affect being experienced by the perceiver. “An affect oriented clinician can help a client more accurately perceive his environments by teaching him (Affect Management Skills Training) AMST skills to regulate his affect,” writes Dr. John Omaha.
The development of affect regulation, enables the emergence of a strong sense of self. When one has poor sense of self, he will not be able to self-soothe well. An adult with a strong sense of self is able to manage disturbing events and respond quickly to stressful demands. She will be able to remain self-aware during a disturbing event. This optimally functioning adult will be flexible, highly skillful, and self-aware in the area of emotions and affect. She will genuinely and with authority increase positive emotions, like joy, and calm negative emotions, like shame. This has been called a self-reflective function. Self-soothing with be accomplished by making use of inner images of safety, soothing, validation, and affirmation. The optimally functioning adult will not use alcohol, other drugs, food, sex, relationship, or work to numb out emotions. They will manifest vitality and will pursue the goals she sets for herself with energy and persistence. Please watch this video and learn about healthy emotional regulation from Dr. John Omaha:
“Food is the most powerful drug you will ever take,” writes Barry Sears.
We are effected greatly by the food we eat. I think there are many variations in how each person’s body metabolizes food. Learning which foods specifically work well with your body is essential. Every cell in your body makes themselves new every 5 months, including your brain cells. When we eat a healthful food, our body is able to function better. What we eat makes a big difference in how we feel.
Our cells are not determined by their genes, because genes are only a blueprint. What directs the cellular development are the signals sent to our cells with what we drink, eat, think, and feel. The science of Epigenetics researches how our genes are influenced by our choices.
Anxiety, depression, impulsiveness, poor attention, and worry can be effected by food. Many people who are depressed overeat or eat too little. Skipping breakfast can lead to low energy in the morning. Eating a big meal can make one tired, ready for a nap.
Sugar can give one a temporary high with an increase in blood sugar, but then can lead to a drop in blood sugar. This crash in blood sugar can leave one feeling tired. Research indicates that foods high in sugar have the same effects as addictive drugs, like cocaine or heroin.
Inflammation is a physical condition that can lead to heart disease and complications from aging. Foods high in sugar, refined flour, processed foods, trans fats and saturated fats can lead to inflammation. “To treat depression, we must learn how to get rid of causes of inflammation and restore the normal immune balance through our food and nutrients, as well as our exercise, sleep, and stress management habits,” writes Dr. Hyman.
Do you know that you have a gut-brain with more neurotransmitters and serotonin than in the brain located in your head? “Over the years I have seen emotional, psychiatric, and behavioral symptoms triggered by problems in the gut,” writes Dr. Mark Hyman. Our gut-brain is the enteric nervous system (ENS). The bugs who live in your gut are more important in determining your health than your DNA fingerprint, writes Dr. David Relman. Foods low in fiber, high in sugar, processed, and lacking nutrients as well as a high calorie diet cause all the wrong bacteria to grow in our gut. Resolving these issues can have a profound effect on your mental and physical health.
Many of us suffer quietly with anxiety and depression. These mental health problems touch many of our family or friends. Dr. Mark Hyman writes, “Our broken brains cause many problems – anxiety, depression, bipolar disease, personality disorders, eating disorders, addictions, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit disorder, (autistic disorders) … learning difficulties, and dyslexia. Many psychiatrists and neurologists wouldn’t qualify these problems as treatable diseases.”
Daniel Amen writes that “a therapist told us this story at a recent lecture:
‘I’m glad you mentioned sugar. I used to be a very angry person; sometimes I would even scare my family. It made me feel terrible. I took anger management classes, but they didn’t even seem to help. When I eliminated sugar from my diet, I noticed an almost immediate reduction in outbursts, plus I had better energy, lost weight, and was much more focused.’”
There is hope. We can change a great deal with good information and our willingness to do what it takes to be healthy and whole. Please watch this video with Elizabeth Schindler and learn about Primary Food:
I went to a workshop in the late 1990s with Deborah Bloch. We were learning about career counseling. Deborah had us take out a piece of butcher paper about as high as the length of my arm and as wide as three lengths of my arm. We folded it into three square sections. On the first section to the far left, Deborah asked us to draw with crayons: our life as it is right now. We took about 15 minutes to do this.
Then, on the section to the far right, she had us draw: our life as we want to look in 5 years. In the middle section, Deborah said to write down all the barriers, keeping me from the life I desired. I later added to the middle section all the ways that I could imagine that would enable me to overcome the barriers to the future life that I desired.
I have done this exercise several times since. I used collage a few times. The advantage of collage is that I can find images instead of drawing them. I do not need to paint them or use crayons to express my images. I just look in magazines, old calendars, catalogues, or newspapers. Whether you decide to draw, paint, or use collage, it is very helpful to put your ideas in a concrete form. This process has been very helpful in remembering what my goals are through the confusion and chaos of modern life. As I look back on my drawing and collages, I am surprised by how they have been manifested.
Yet life is much deeper than financial or career success. For we can possess all the gold in the world and still feel miserable. Mathew Fox writes that “True joy is an inside thing. Joy does not come from the outside. True joy is therefore non-addictive. Joy is what happens when we join with the powers of the universe again. To do this we must prepare ourselves, we must be willing to let go and let joy happen. We must let go of dictating what our joy will be (for example, ‘when I get this pay raise,’ or ‘find this boyfriend’ or ‘buy this car’). Desire has a place in our lives, but joy is deeper than desire. It will not be dictated to. It will not be bought and paid for.”
We may be too rational in America. We may miss the joy of embracing the mystery and beauty of life. Art gives us an opportunity to welcome the colorful images and subtle joy of a soulful life. M.C. Richards writes that “by example and practice, I try to teach that creativity is built in – like the sun – it shines in everything we do – look!”
When I write or have a conversation, I am being creative. The way I communicate is unique – unlike anyone else. When I love I am being creative. When I cook, I am being creative. All our relationships are creative. It is an art to start and to build a meaningful bond with another human being. Our lives are creative journeys. The question is do we realize it.
Art gives us practice at being creative. We get to see our drawing, our painting, or our collage that is a result of our creativity. It serves us well to learn how to be creative in soulful ways. In this video, Sue Renfrew, M.A., shows us how to do collage. Get our your paper, scissors, glue, magazines, catalogues, calendars, strings, cloth, feathers, and anything else that strikes your fancy. Please watch this video and join in the joy of creation.
Career development is a significant aspect of human life. Our career development begins at an early age with imagination and play. As we grow, hopefully we are learning the skills to do work that we love most. Career Development is defined as the lifelong process of managing your work experience or your employee’s work experience within or between organizations.
In 1988 when I graduated from San Jose State University in San Jose, California, USA, I wanted to earn a living as a writer. I needed to get a job, so I chose another interest area in which to develop skills. I had my Bachelor of Arts Degree with Great Distinction in Political Science. I enjoyed the subject of politics, so I worked on for a political campaign in the summer and fall of 1988. I quickly learned that working in politics was incongruent with my values. I wanted to change the world, making it a better place. Manipulating people to vote for my candidate seemed to just be adding to the poor state of the world. I was interested in collaborating with people in community to build a just world.
In order to earn a living, I began working in government – the County Assessor’s Office, Registrar of Voters, Family Court, the Department of Drugs and Alcohol, and the county hospital (Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital Services). These government agencies had cultures that were different than my values. It was difficult for me to work in these organizations. In 1991, I decided to apply to graduate school in Counseling Psychology. I had read many books about psychology and attended lectures so I knew that counseling was an area of interest.
I had been so self-conscious about my anxiety that I feared taking a psychology class as an undergraduate student in college. It was a courageous choice for me to pursue a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Counseling at Santa Clara University. It was a terrifying gauntlet to face my fears about how I appeared to others. Even though I had spent 5 years in psychotherapy and worked hard to become healthy, I feared that I was too flawed psychologically to ever be an effective marriage counselor. What I came to believe was that in order to be effective as a counselor, I needed to be objective – not perfect psychologically. I also learned that my challenges can give me empathy for the challenges of my clients.
After I graduated from Santa Clara University with my Master’s Degree in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling, I went to work at the publisher of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator as a corporate trainer. I began teaching a psychology course at Heald Colleges and continued to work as a counseling intern at Almaden Valley Counseling Service. I was making much more money that I ever had. I was very busy working about 50 hours a week as well as commuting to 5 locations. At Consulting Psychology Press, I was advising psychiatrists, psychologists, corporate trainers, and career counselors from all over the world on leadership development, team building, and career development. I was enjoying doing my Work – my Soul Work.
Over time and with patience, I was able to develop my skills in areas congruent with my personality, interests, and values. It made all the difference. Even though I had my challenges and complaints, I was able to do work that was meaningful and satisfying. When we are able to build skills directly related to our Soul Work, we feel differently about our work. With a direction to our career path, we add meaning to our work. We are not just getting a paycheck, but getting paid to learn things our Soul longs to gain. And even after doing counseling for over 20 years, I am still learning everyday how to get better.
When you are out of work or seeking to move to a new employer, it is critical to know more about yourself than you know about the job market. Most people who are making a change in their job think that searching online for jobs listed, reading and responding to classified ads, taking various types of career tests, or talking to a career consultant of some sort will help them find a job. Yet in reality, these actions are helpful only if you invest the time and energy to learn about yourself and develop a plan for your career. Most people buying a car or home invest a substantial amount of time. Isn’t the work you will be doing for years just as important?
If you have interest in career development for yourself or others, please read “What Color is Your Parachute” from Richard Nelson Bolles. The work you put into building the skills to do work congruent with who you are will bring you a higher quality of life and satisfaction.
Career Development is also important for managers. Please watch this video by Bob Epperly on Career Development and its role in managing employees:
“The ego is the seat of consciousness and if consciousness creates the world, the ego is doing God’s creative work in its effort to realize itself through the way of individuation” Edward Edinger.
The quality of our life is largely dependent on the health of our ego. If our ego is healthy, we will be flexible, strong, compassionate, aware and constructive. Having a healthy ego takes effort; we need to choose to do the work to grow up and mature.
My ego has two basic powers. The first power of the ego is observation, and the second power is choice. These are the two main functions of our minds: to monitor and modify.
What is an ego? When I look out from my eyes and see the world, I am aware of myself and the world. In some ways, it feels no different from when I was 7 years of age. I have a continuity of my sense of identity as an individual. I call this part of myself “I” or “me,” and I am referring to my ego. My ego is the part of me that is aware or conscious.
There are factors which help strengthen the ego: balancing one’s brain, regulating one’s feelings, reclaiming one’s projections, and engaging in self-care. These skills helps one see the world more clearly and make life giving choices. When my brain is balanced, I am able to use both sides of my brain. My left brain is about logic, facts, and time. My right brain is involved with relationships, emotions, and spatial relationships. When the sides of my brain are balanced and connected, I have access to both brain hemispheres when observing the world and making choices.
When I am able to calm myself down, I am able to see more objectively. When I calm myself down, I am not overwhelmed with emotions. As I am able to remain more neutral, my choices are more reflective of the facts of the situation.
A projection is something that interferes with my ability to see clearly. My projections are when I see parts of myself in others. A teenager is having a projection, when he idealizes an athlete or rock star. He is seeing his potential strength and creativity in another person. When he is able to see these projections and reclaim them, he is empowered. He does this by doing the work to develop his skills in music and sports. As he gains mastery in himself, he has more objectivity and confidence. He feels empowered, because he sees himself as he is. He can see his internal power.
When I take care of my needs for sleep, healthful food, exercise, and time with emotionally supportive family and friends, I feel calmer and see more objectively.
When I have a working ego, I am willing to do the work of an adult. I take the steps to keep my ego strong and healthy as an adult. I get 8-10 hours of sleep, eat healthful foods, take time to exercise my body, and talk with empathic friends and family. I also play and have fun. A working ego also implies a willingness to make difficult choices that support the vitality of my life and the lives of others.
An unhealthy ego is an ego that is weak. When an ego is not strong, it attempts to be the only center of the person. When our ego is weak, our energy alternates between thinking we are greater than we are (inflation) and thinking we are less than we are (deflation). It is like a balloon being too full or flat. We are most effective when we see ourselves and the world as we are – no more, no less.
It is possible to wield great power as a president of a company, the leader of a country, or a religious leader, and to still remain quite unconscious. Sadly, this is more often true than not. It is possible to be a leader who manages things and people with great authority and precision and still not be awake. If one does not have the interest or take the time to think introspectively – to examine oneself – then it is impossible to be conscious.
Our ego is formed when we are young. As young baby, our ego begins by being uninformed. We are totally dependent on our parents for survival. We are unable to see ourselves as separate from our mother. Over time, we begin to see that we are separate from our mother and by crying or smiling our mother responds by feeding us, changing us, holding us, or smiling at us. As we gain strength, we become more aware of how we can influence our own life. Our powers of awareness and choice are born in this way.
As we mature in healthy ways, we are able to see that we are not the center of the world. We are aware of the impact of our choices on our family and friends. We are able to consider others and the world as a whole when we make decisions. Some of us consider our Soul and God in our decision making. Possessing a healthy developing ego, we are able to be flexible with others socially. We can choose to love.
Please watch this video by Judith Peterson on the value of a working ego: