Coping with stress and anxiety during holiday season (Article)
Part 2 – Knowing our Ego
In this part we are going to touch and important learning that is going to help us cope with the stress around the holiday and make the right decisions that will generate a calm, happy holiday for us and our loved ones with the minimal amount of stress and anxiety. If I can put one word here that is common to all the contributing factors to our high stress level the word is EGO
To understand that we need to see how our Ego is to our mental wellness in each case. But before we will do that lets first understand this creature that is called Ego and where is it coming from?
Our ego is the part of our consciousness that separates us from the rest of the universe, separates us from other creations. It is what defines our unique existence in the world around us. However, there are a few things that our Ego cannot detect. Our ego, or what is called in Kabballah, our animalistic soul or the lower soul, is the element of our soul is the driving force for our livelihood. We are a created as a merge of body and soul. The soul is a part of the Divine, a piece of Divinity implanted in each one of us. This spark of life, the force of life, the force of our existence is the engine that moves our body. If we want to understand it better, we can think about like a person wearing a coat.
As the person moves his or her arms the coat moves along with the person’s motions.In a similar manner our animalistic soul controls our body. Our body Is a vehicle of the soul to perform actions in this universe. Each limb and organ in our body has a spiritual parallel in our soul.
This soul of ours has two main parts. One part is what is called in Kabballah that Divine soul, or the higher soul. That is a spark from infinity being placed in us. It is our conscience, our guide, the good angel sitting on our shoulder telling us to do the right thing. Telling us to help others, to be kind, to give, to love. It has the qualities of our Creato: radiating goodness and grace to everyone around us. This part of the soul feels unity with Creator and all the other creations in this world. It knowns that everything is actually One. And we are all connected to one other.
The other part is called the Animalistic soul or the lower soul. This part oversees our earthly existence. It is the part that revives our body puts life in every cell of our body. In Chinese medicine it is called Chi. But this part is what gives us also a separated identity from the rest of the creations in this universe. However, the animalistic soul is more complex that just having the need to keep us alive, to make sure we are breathing eating and drinking. The lower soul is in charge also of our animalistic urges. However, for humans this soul is more complex that the one animals have. We have desires such as bodily pleasure, eating, drinking and sexual pleasure similar to our animal friends, but also desires that are unique to humans such as a desire for respect, appreciation, recognition and control. The main spiritual driving force of our lower soul is completely opposite than our Divine Soul. Instead of giving and transmitting grace, this soul is ALL about receiving. The lower soul always looks for what we can absorb from our surrounding, whether these are earthly materials such as air food and drinks, or spiritual or mental materials such as respect, appreciation , control , and affection.
Like an energetic sponge it absorbs energy from our surrounding. And an element of it is what we call in our language Ego. Every moment of our consciousness and our subconsciousness there is a constant “fight” between the lower soul and the higher soul, between our animalistic soul and our Divine soul. And every decision we make, throughout the day, and we make thousands such decisions EVERY DAY. Only one can win the fight every time, either the higher soul or the lower soul. And you can already guess who the big winner in most cases is.
That is true, our animalistic soul. Why am I telling you all this ? first of all because that is the truth, this is our true nature, and that is our spiritual structure , and if you wish to learn more about that you can take our full course, Divine Reflection, to learn so much more about this topic and to get great tools to deal not only with the holidays but with every challenge in your life.
The other reason, more relevant to our learning here is to use this knowledge to cope with our holiday’s challenges. And now, we are going to take all the reasons we talked about in detail in the first session and look at them through the eyes of our Ego, our Animalistic soul, and learn why each and every concern we have: our stress, anxiety and anger are ALL coming from this element of our soul.
That does not mean at all that we are bad or egoistic. That is a necessary process for our emotional evolution and our spiritual growth which needs to happen. We just need to understand that we are inside a growth process. And with the right tools we are going to come out of it, not just with a happy and Joyful holiday times, but also more elevated spiritually and more mentally mature and complete.
I would like to start from the second factor we talked about. The social factor since the first factor is a little more complex to understand, but we will get to it in the end. So let’s take a few elements from the social factor and observe them from the eyes of our ego, to learn how they are affecting our stress and anxiety level and how it causes increased friction around family members during this time of the year.
Hosting a holiday dinner:
Last sessions we mentioned that we feel a desire to give the people were are inviting, the best impression of us. That impression encloses the way our house looks, our holiday clothes, the quality and variety of the food we serve. The general atmosphere. The question is, why do we feel obligated to put out a show for our guests. What is the deep reason behind it? Because if there were no social rules , and each culture have different rules. We would probably serve a significantly more modest meal, and not consume so much energy in the way our house looks inside and out.
The reason is because our Ego or our Animalistic soul is looking to receive something in return to the investment in this event. Now, I am generalizing here, I am not saying all of you are like that, don’t take this personally, I do not know any of you in person, however, I am trying to open your mind to some new ideas and concepts that will help you understand yourself better. So, what is our animalistic soul look for in return for this “investment” meaning the holiday? In professional terms it’s called ROI (return of investment). Our Ego is asking itself “what is my ROI here?”.
Know, that most of this process is being done subconsciously and in a fraction of a second, and that is why so many times it’s so hard to grasp it and stop it before it even happens. Moreover, we don’t even understand sometimes why we behaved a certain way. How many times you find yourself wondering, “why did I do that, why did I behave like that, it is not like me, I am not this kind of person” but still you did it, you behaved in that manner
So if I had a magical remote control that had the ability to pause an event in my life and play it in really slow motion. And also this magical remote had a button that translates the thoughts of my Ego. What would that Ego say?
My Ego would say: “What in it for me? Why should I bother so much to please these guests?” And the answer to the Ego’s question is different from one person to another. One Ego would say that it is looking for recognition. I am pressing the Ego translation button now: “OK I will do all this effort and spend all this money and time, but you (dear guests) have to appreciate it, you have to recognize my effort and you have to thank me, or at least be thankful internally . I need to see that YOU recognize my efforts, that is my ROI, I invested time, money and energy, and YOU need to pay me with Recognition in return”. For others, it’s not about recognition but control. They like to be in control for the holiday to be the way they want it. They like to decide the time and place. Which guests are going to be invited. If I was using the remote on this kind of Ego. The Ego would say. “I don’t like people telling me how to celebrate my holiday. I would rather suffer and pay for the event, as long as I can decide on the time, the food, the guests and so on”. The reward here is control. Our animalistic soul is getting paid with plenty of control. Its a game of gain and loss. And, as long as there is more gain than loss to feed the urges of the Animalistic soul. Our Ego is going to be happy.
Another person’s Ego is looking for respect. That Ego wants others to respect it. The Animalistic soul of this person is longing for respect from others. It wants people to show them respect by coming over to their house. There are other egoistic desires of our Animalistic soul that are trying to feed on during the holiday season. Also, a little more complex is the urge to see the whole family united and happy. Sometimes the feeding of the Ego is not coming from outside visitors it is coming from inside us
If I am the father of the family, and everyone is coming over to my house and everyone is happy and getting along, what does it tell me about myself?
Maybe that I am a good father, that I succeeded in raising good children. In this case the feeding is internal. My Ego has created a certain image of me in my mind and Is wants to feed it with this family event. My ego wants a proof that I am a good father. Those are just some of the examples of the desires our Ego wants to feed off. In some of us its stronger than others. But it exists in every person.
But don’t worry, we said that there is a Divine soul in us as well. And that the desires of the Divine soul are opposite to the Animalistic soul. The divine soul wants to give, to radiate, to help, to make people happy. Of course there is a part in us that truly wants to have a great holiday, just for the sake of making people happy. Having quality time together. Getting to catchup with everyone’s life and wellness. It is not an egoistic act it is an act coming from our Divine soul.
So how can we tell the difference between the two? In both cases there is a good feeling accompanied with the act. If my guests are happy at dinner because they are grateful for the dinner, I made for them. There is a part in me that is feeling happy inside me that I was able to make them happy. On the other side, if they appreciate me for what I am doing for them, I am also happy, because my Ego is feeding off their appreciation. So how can I tell the difference ?
The difference is what happens to me in each case if my guests are NOT “performing” to my expectations. In the case of my Divine Soul, where I am trying to make them happy but lets say there is an argument at the dinner table, I might be feeling sad for not being able to make them happy. But in the case of feeding my Ego with appreciation, I will develop anger at them I will have negative thoughts and feelings toward my guests. My Ego will say “how dare they come here and argue at my table, how can I get appreciation from them if they argue like that ? my ego is getting angry at the guests. The ego is not able to absorb the appreciation it is waiting for, and that will generate feelings of anger and frustration.
And that my friends, is an extremely important distinction. The way for us to identify which part of our soul is controlling the situation is by analyzing our thoughts and feelings. If we feel frustrated, angry, stressed, anxious, impatient, irritated. That means that our Ego, or our animalistic soul is in control. It is waiting to feed off the people involved in the event but it is not getting what it is seeking for. Our Ego is not being fed.
When the divine soul is in control, we are not angry at people, we are not angry or disappointed from ourselves or from others, we do not feel anxious or stressed. We might experience sadness, if we intended to make people happy and it did not work out , however, we are not going to be angry or frustrated or irritated by these people or by ourselves.
I hope I am able to get the message through. Let’s take another example and analyze it using what we just learned. Divine Soul = positive thoughts and feelings,
Animalistic Soul = Negative thoughts about others and/or ourselves.
Let’s say that I want to invite my siblings for holiday dinner and my wife wants to invite her siblings as well. I am beginning to develop negative thoughts and feelings toward my wife. And I will give her multiple reasons why that is not a good idea.
“Too many people “ , “We don’t have enough room for everyone” “They don’t get along” “ It’s going to be too expensive” and so on. Those are words that I am saying to my wife to avoid this situation
Inside I might feel anger, frustration, lack of motivation to invite them, maybe stress or anxiety from the amount of money I must spend on a bigger event with so many more people than I planned to. If I experience negative feelings toward myself or my wife, that is a RED FLAG that means that my Ego is in the driver’s seat
Let’s say that in my case for example, I want a peaceful and quiet dinner, some quality time with my siblings because I missed them ,and I enjoy their company and I do not want to share my attention during that evening with others. I do not want to try to please others, I wish to spend my time in a known and familiar family atmosphere. My Ego is being fed from the old familiar family gathering. And I cannot get the same type of feeling with my wife’s siblings. My ego wants to have its enjoyments in the old and familiar way. And my wife’s siblings are “bothering” my ego to receive its enjoyment the way it wants.
So I am getting angry at my wife, I am getting restless and irritated. All of those are symptoms of my Ego not being fed with what it wants. That is a great tool to help me identify the problem and analyze it.
If my Divine soul was in the driver’s seat, I would have a totally different attitude toward the situation. My divine soul would say “ That is a great opportunity to make more people happy, the dinner table is going to be more alive, more children are going to be around and play together. There is an opportunity for my siblings to get to know my wife’s siblings better and form stronger relationship. There are wonderful people on both sides, they should get to know each other, they can really bond well. “ those kind of thoughts are going to fill me with good positive feelings. Now I have a tool that can help me identify who is in the driver’s seat
And if I see that my animalistic soul is driving my car. I need to stop the car. Go to a quiet place, think about it, kick that ego out of the driver’s seat and let the Divine soul enter. I need to rewire my mindset before I continue to drive. If you identify a situation like that, you can say to yourself : “My Divine soul is not in the driver’s seat. I need to stop on the shoulders of the road and change drivers. I need to rewire my mindset”.
These kind of mental practices will help each and every one of us make so much better decisions during the holidays and radiate peace, calmness and joy around the house.