By Lori Lines
The Man Behind the Curtain
Do you remember the scene from the Wizard of Oz when Toto pulls back the Wizard’s curtain? It’s been a long time since many of us have seen the movie but close your eyes and try to recall the “wizard’s” reaction…It was filled with threatening anger, panic, and fear, and finally, when the man behind the curtain was revealed, profound sadness and a tale of loss. The Wizard of Oz is a whimsical tale of talking lions and flying monkeys, yet the anxiety of being revealed as who they are behind the curtain is painfully real to many.
Another common childhood memory may have similar undertones. Guests are coming over, and your mom whips herself into an anxious frenzy, ensuring you are dressed and pressed, every hair in place, and the house is spit shinned. Mom may even caution you to be on your best behavior for the arriving company. Perhaps you are this parent today.
Of course, we all have private lives that we neither hide nor advertise from the anime aficionado and weekend nudist to the grieving child or separated spouse. However, when masks become part of our daily wardrobe, we can become bound in the straitjacket of inauthenticity.
Unmasking the Ego
Why did mom scurry around the house, making things picture-perfect? Why do some people buy homes and cars beyond their financial means? Why do couples stay together when they no longer love or even like each other? It all comes down to three letters, EGO. The ego is the bridge between the outside world and the inner self. It can be a protector, facilitator, or translator when it is healthy and whole. When the ego self is wounded and damaged, it can cause us to respond defensively, aggressively, or deceptively.
What hurts the ego, causing us to respond in this way? Ego wounds are emotional traumas that overwhelm our coping skills and defense mechanisms. This is why many ego wounds occur in childhood when the ego is still developing, and we have little recourse in response to the shame, guilt, fear, and pain we may encounter. Of course, the ego can be damaged at any life stage. And, because we all have varying levels of trauma tolerance, everyone’s ego can be affected by different events in different ways.
Examples of Ego Trauma
Divorce from a Spouse
Rejection from a Peer Group
Disregarded by a Romantic Interest
Teased by Family or Friends
Mocked By a Teacher
Feeling Like an Outsider (financially, physically, intellectually, etc.)
Perfection, The Enemy of Authenticity
Ego wounds often result in inauthenticity because people are trying to avoid reinjury. Consequently, wounded individuals strive to project a perfect image to avoid experiencing shame, rejection, guilt, or abandonment again, thereby protecting the ego. Defending an injured ego indefinitely actually weakens the ego instead of strengthening it. Think of it as a broken limb, for example. We wear the cast temporarily as we heal, but it must eventually come off, or the appendage will atrophy.
And, what happens when the ego’s defenses atrophy? The ego becomes preoccupied with its defenselessness and vulnerability, causing fear, anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. Trying to hide this angst and sorrow creates a vicious cycle of masking and hiding behind façades.
It is crucial to remember that the inner child or lower self, the ego self, and the higher self are all part of a singular individual. We are discussing it now as something separate to highlight our accountability for and sovereignty over the ego self. It is up to us to heal and strengthen our ego self so we can represent ourselves and navigate the world in empowering constructive ways.
Authenticity is the Measure of Awakening
It would be remiss to not acknowledge the price we often pay for living authentically. We must first be willing to be vulnerable. By exposing our true selves and living honestly, we open ourselves to the risk of rejection, abandonment, judgment, shame, and failure. We must also be willing to accept that not everyone will celebrate or approve of us. And we need to understand that when we are denied, it will be for who we are and not who we’ve led others to believe we are, which can be even more painful at times.
However, the price of authenticity actually pales greatly in comparison to its gifts. The rewards of living an authentic life are plentiful. We gain freedom, self-love, self-worth, inner peace, joy, and empowerment. When we choose to honor our truth, live vulnerably, and let go of fear and a need for acceptance, we also find clarity, release, and awakening.
The Authentic Self, the Soul Made Visible
It’s rather miraculous how the routine choice to observe yourself, reflect on your truth, and respond authentically can be such a transformative practice, though not in the way you may think. By living authentically, you don’t change who you are becoming; you become who you were always meant to be, which is also the fundamental truth of awakening.
In love and truth,
Author Lori Lines
Disclaimer: Lori is a high-level channel. The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.