Misogi Challenge

When was the last time you challenged yourself?

Was it a long time ago? Was the challenge difficult or easy to complete? Did it truly stretch you and demand something special from you?

Recently my son, Tommy, told me about the ‘Misogi Challenge’. He pointed me to a blog by John Gamades, called Depth Not Width, in which he quoted Jesse Itzler.

According to the blog, Jesse says, “The notion around the misogi is you do something so hard one time a year that it has an impact the other 364 days of the year.”Jesse adds,“Put one big thing on the calendar that scares you, that you never thought you could do, and go out and do it.” 

There are of course other ways to view this experience.

In traditional Japanese culture, misogi involves immersing oneself in cold water or standing beneath a waterfall to purify the body and mind.

But in contemporary times, misogi has taken on a broader meaning. It’s a challenge that pushes you to your limits and forces you to confront your fears, doubts, and weaknesses. The choice or focus of your misogi is expected to have a 50% or greater chance of failure. In addition, a misogi should not kill you or harm others.

Once you complete the challenge, it’s a reminder that you are stronger than you believe and that more is possible than you can imagine. Misogi is an opportunity to reset yourself for the year to come.

I’ve been thinking about this idea for a while now and wondering what I could do to push my own limits.

This brings up several questions. What are my limits? How do I know what they are until I try to do something? Even then, how can I tell whether I can push past them?

I like the idea of challenging myself and I’ve done a lot of things that went far beyond what I initially thought was possible for me.

But what about now? What is so big that it has a 50% chance of failure, but won’t kill me or harm others?

An idea crystalized for me.

I happen to live across the street from the Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail in Albany County. According to the official website, the trail runs from Grove Street in Voorhessville to South Pearl Street in Albany, a one-way distance of 9 miles. One portion of the trail is a steady, fairly long, steep grade that runs for about 2 miles.

I immediately thought about walking the full length of the trail, but that seemed too short to push me beyond my limits, since I already walk 2-3 miles a day.

So, I decided the challenge would be to walk from one end to the other and back again, a total of 18 miles. Plus, I would wear a backpack filled with lots of water, my break and lunch food and some added weight, to make the walk more difficult.

I should add that my feet are not in the best shape. I have arthritis in each of my toes and neuromas in both feet, which cause pain due to swelling around the nerves. I am currently having laser treatments and hope for significant improvement, but I may not know for sure prior to my walk.

I asked myself, “how do I rate the difficulty of this challenge and how does that translate to the benchmark of less than a 50% chance of completion?”

It certainly feels daunting. I’ve never walked that far at one time before and definitely not carrying any weight. I have no idea whether the pain in my feet will be too intense or whether the weather will be too hot and drain and fatigue me.

You could legitimately ask…then why attempt it?

I’ve thought about that too.

And here is what I decided. I want to prove to myself that I am stronger than I think I am, and more capable and determined. I want to feel the boost in physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual energy and excitement that comes from achieving something beyond myself. And something beyond limits that I’ve accepted. I want to embrace new visions for my future, knowing I possess everything it takes to succeed.

Although the task may be rated as less than 50% chance of completion, I believe I have a 100% chance of success, since Tommy will be walking next to me.

So, what challenge do you accept from yourself?

Releasing Outside Validations

Do you look outside yourself for validation from others? Or, are you fully content to gauge your own successes and sense of worth?

While I’d love to say that this is not a problem for me and that I’ve graduated to not caring what others think, I’m not there yet.

But I want to be, so when something triggers me, I turn to Lia, the feminine ethereal voice of god who speaks with me and offers wise counsel.

If you struggle with this same issue perhaps, you’d like to hear the things she told me recently. Here are her words to me.

“All numbers (think grades, bank balances, job title, and other external measures of ‘success’) are outside validations which you presently use to rate yourself and your value. They were conceived as part of your cultural training, but none of these represent the truth which is that you came from heaven as a divine being and no number can make you any more or less perfect.”

That’s a huge statement for me to consider, but I understand the essence of it because I see my true worth is inside of me, planted there before I came here.

She continued, “Your cultural training is dedicated to localizing you, to keep you separate from all other entities here, so that you are seen as an individual. It does this through the collective ego (the sum total of all egos of those living on earth with you). The collective ego then stratifies all entities by means of ‘numbers and grades’ and other identifiers (skin color, IQ, skill sets…). The collective ego uses a great deal of energy to accomplish this, just as your personal ego does for you. The energy your ego uses is drawn from your other individual aspects (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual) and drains them of the energy they need in order to perform. The collective ego also does this, but on a much larger scale.”

I took a moment to absorb this, and Lia went on, “Both your ego and the collective ego pursue protection and expansion of you as their mission. They assess risks and take actions to protect their territories, both at rest and during expansion.”

“Your ego creates an external image of you, which it attempts to maintain and enhance, and it uses ‘numbers and grades’ as one of its main power sources. This is where outside validations come in. They are two-edged swords. If allowed, your ego will spend a great deal of time drawing power from what it sees as positive outside validations from others, but it will also expend much energy defending against criticisms it receives to its created image.”

This is making sense to me in a way I’d never considered before, and a question crystalizes for me.

What kind of life do I want to lead? Is my desire to live a joy-filled life? If so, I need to be aware of what drains my energy and what enhances it. If I allow myself to be subject to outside validations, I now more fully realize the kind of life this will create.

I realize too it would be wise for me to choose carefully and to pay attention to how and where I use my energy. Releasing any need or desire I have for outside validations will prevent any unnecessary energy drains.

I understand this may be easier said than done, but I know it’s important enough to try. As in the past, I recognize the value of shifting toward my aims. So, I consider, what are my aims?

What draws me forward, lights me up, gives me hope, and fills my heart? What feels divine to me and creates joy?

I spent time writing down answers to these questions and discovered a wonderful list of inside ‘validations’. Validations that are reflections of who I am, a divine being living an earth life. I found answers that touch my spirit and set me free.

My hope is that you create your own personal list and that it helps guide you toward experiencing your own sense of joy and best life.

Effective Affirmations

Is there a difference between types of affirmations? From my point of view there is a significant difference.

But before I explore this with you, I thought it might be helpful to start in the same place, with a workable definition of the word- affirmation.

According to one internet source there are two definitions of note. In the first case it is an action or process of affirming something. In the second case, it is a state of offering emotional support or encouragement.

From the beginning of my usage of dictionaries I’ve found it troublesome and annoying when the word you are looking to understand is used in the definition. It always makes me wonder what the dictionary writers were thinking?

Fortunately, in this case several synonyms were offered for the word affirmation; assertion, declaration, statement, guarantee, to name a few.

In popular culture there are many folks who use affirmations as a way of obtaining something in specific, an outcome they want to occur. It may be to improve their health, increase their money or investments, get a new or better job, find a spouse or friend, afford a new car or house or just about anything.

The focus becomes very directed toward a specific result. The process to achieve the desired outcome is generally to phrase an ‘affirmative statement’ in a way that confirms the wish, want or desire.

Inherent in the process is a conviction that whatever is the subject of the desire will in fact come about, so the language becomes an important part. In many cases that I am familiar with, the person making the affirmative statement does so in a way that states they already possess the desired outcome.

Here’s an example.

“I am wealthy, and money naturally and effortlessly comes to me.”

The expectation is that making this statement alone will produce the results the individual wants. There are of course different ways to phrase affirmations, but the idea remains that a definitive statement made to a perceived power source capable of granting the request, is expected to happen. The power source might be God, the universe, an angel, or something specific to the affirmer.

I do not subscribe to this style of affirmation and here’s why.

I do not believe we can deceive ourselves. We in fact know whether we are or are not wealthy and whether money ever comes naturally or effortlessly to us. We are eminently capable of detecting a lie, from others and from ourselves. If we are not wealthy, merely telling ourselves that we are does not make it true. This kind of affirmation to me is a deception and will rarely result in any type of success.

What do I propose instead?

I believe strongly that we are capable of creating and experiencing any kind of life we choose. We always know if we are leading the life we desire and cannot fool ourselves. What we can do is focus our attention and make statements of what we are willing to do in order to experience something specific.

For example, “I am becoming healthier daily by (insert the actions you are prepared to perform).”

Shifting from wishful thinking to an action-based affirmation contains real power. Identifying specific actions you are willing and prepared to take in support of your affirmation will create tangible results. As long as you take these actions consistently and modify (if necessary) you will experience your affirmation statement.

Using this kind of affirmation statement and taking action is a winning formula for success that you can rely on.

Different Skin Daily

The other day I was struck by a thought. I let the thought pull me toward itself without resistance, despite not clearly knowing its full impact.

I waited a moment for better clarity and there it was in the form of a question.

What if tomorrow I woke up with different skin?

It might be a different color or a different texture. It might be old wrinkly skin, or the smooth pinkish skin of a new baby. It might be that of a burn victim, or a leper or a model’s perfect air brushed skin.

It could be I open my eyes and see myself as black or white or brown or red or yellow or some shade in between. What if it was possible to wake up with green or blue or purple skin?

The idea twisted a bit, and the question became, what if I woke up every day with different skin? Would that change my outlook on life?

Would I become more tolerant and open-minded, or would it move me in another direction, one where I played favorites, treating one skin color better than another?

I wondered whether changing my skin every day would be enough time to form any lasting opinions or would I need more time, like a week or a month or maybe a year.

I also wondered whether I would like some skins and dislike others. If I constantly changed, would that provide me with a broader sense of feelings that would create genuine compassion.

If I changed skins daily, would I have any control over the next one to arrive? Would there be ones I would try to avoid?

These questions generated a great deal of contemplation.

Why did this question appear inside of me? Is there a message attached that I need to listen to? If there is, what does the message mean to me?

I asked myself, how many skin types are there? Would this constant changing go on for as long as I lived? If so, could I stand it, adjust to it, learn from it?

In this present moment it feels quite daunting to consider, so I sat back, closed my eyes, and slowed my breathing, hoping to gain some valuable perspective.

An impression appeared.

I sensed that whatever skin covered my body was not the issue. The issue was how I felt about it and what thoughts passed through my mind. Because I’ve already lived a long life, I have absorbed biases through my cultural training. Assuredly, many of these biases are not real and not based on facts. And yet, they exist inside of me.

Based on the idea of ever-changing skin, my focus sharpened, and it set me back on my heels. I immediately realized how easy it was for me to judge each skin and to choose an attitude to go along with each one.

I needed to take a step back…a big step back.

Some part of me searched for a sense of fairness and compassion. I sensed a desire to love each and every skin I wear. I began to look beneath the skin, to where every one of us is the same. A divine being, living an earth life, creating, and experiencing what it means to be human.

This skin experiment has offered me an opportunity to see to a greater depth and deepen my love for all beings, regardless of how they appear.

Was Buddha Worried About His Weight

I’ve only done this once before during the 2 ½ years I’ve been posting, but I want to repeat this post because it’s the most popular one to date. It seems important somehow to me to put this back out there…so, here it is.

One day I was wondering about all of the diets there are around, so I decided to investigate a little. A quick search of the internet produced thirty-nine diets, identifying their strong and weak points.

It was mind boggling.

How could anyone ever hope to understand all of the differences between them and conclude which would be the best to try, if in fact, you wanted to try one at all?

The specifics of each diet change depending on the emphasis of the plan. Many diets support the idea of increasing fruit, vegetables, fish and plant-based foods. Others capitalize on certain foods groups to counter physical conditions like, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardio concerns or to improve mental functioning. In all the cases I read about, nutrition and safety play a major role, but there seems to be a significant difference of opinion, depending on the expert who is providing the information.

Some diets are notoriously difficult to follow, while others make it too challenging to understand the differences between good and bad food items or some other key components.

In many cases there are supporting statements made to attempt to convince a potential dieter of the values or reasons for the individual plans. For instance, some report that the Paleo Diet says, “that if cavemen didn’t eat it, you probably shouldn’t either.”

It wasn’t until my mid 60’s that I felt the need for a diet. A gradual increase in my weight each year suggested I would be in trouble if I didn’t make some immediate changes.

So, off I went to Weight Watchers.

Their program stresses adherence to certain point goals (each food is assigned a point value) and highly recommends attendance at weekly meetings, to monitor weight and participate in conversations with other members, guided by an instructor.

I did, in fact, reach my goal and have been mostly successful in maintaining it, within a reasonable range.

What all of the instructors say is, that to be truly successful, you have to change your mind-set about your relationship with food. Merely altering what you eat for a short time, even though it might produce some results, will fail in the long run.

I believe they are correct.

I believe there is a lot more involved that allows a person to achieve their weight goals. Or, for that matter, any goals they might have.

This is where Buddha comes in.

Have you ever seen a picture of a slender, trim Buddha? I doubt it. Do you think Buddha spent any time concerned about his weight? I also doubt this.

Bear in mind here (BIG DISCLAIMER), I am not suggesting or recommending that you ignore the sound advice from your health professionals regarding any diet ideas they have, especially, if you have an obvious health concern.

What I do want to share is a thought about our ‘beliefs’, especially in relation to what we experience in life.

Considering all dieters, could the difference between those who are successful and those who are not, be their belief about the outcome they would experience, rather than the particular diet they were on?

If you substituted a different concept for dieting (academic, career, relationship, finances…), would it work the same way, meaning your outcome would be directly related to your belief about your outcome, rather than one of the individual steps you took?

It certainly feels to me like an important idea to consider, mostly because it alters the dynamic, shifting it from a conceptual form to one of belief, particularly if the belief is deep seated.

This idea is creating a shift in my mind-set about my food intake and maintaining my weight. What if I had a strong belief that it is not so much about what I eat, as it is about what I believe about what I eat?

That’s something I think Buddha would have something to say about.


I was sitting at my desk giving myself permission to follow any thought that came into my mind. I wasn’t reaching for a specific destination, just kind of waiting to see what would show up.

An image appeared. It was an old-fashioned typewriter, perhaps a Remington. For those unfamiliar with these, allow me to explain briefly. You have to insert a piece of paper, threading it carefully so that when you turn a knob, it the paper into view. Each time you hit the return arm, it advances the paper and returns its position to the far left. There are several rows of individual buttons with letters, numbers or characters and you have to depress them to print on the paper. As you depress a button a long metal arm raises up and strikes an inked cloth ribbon, which makes an impression on the piece of paper.

Using this kind of typewriter is more of an art than a science. If you happen to hit multiple buttons at the same time, the striker arms will lock together, forcing you to separate them and start over.

If you hit a wrong button, you have to correct your mistake, which would mean inserting a piece of ‘correct tape’ over the mistake and hitting the same button again to make the page white, ready for the correct letter.

Believe me, it was maddening if you were only a marginally capable typist like me. I remember needing quite a bit of correct type to fix my errors.

Recalling this, I discovered I was still in touch with how angry it sometimes made me.

The next image that came to me was somewhat bizarre. I imagined hitting a series of different buttons. Each time I hit a letter, I sensed a whole word appear and felt its depth.

H…helpless, F…frustrated, A…afraid, V…vulnerable, B…blamed, I…inconsiderate, D…danger.

What was happening? It took a moment to realize there was a pattern here. Each of these words represented a source of anger for me. I sat back to consider and saw more letters appear. I…insecure, O…oppressed, H…hopeless, M…mean, E…expectations.

Wow, the last one caught me off guard. It had more juice than the others. I wondered why?

To gain some clarity I decided to ask Lia, a divine feminine voice that offers me spiritual insight.

“What gives,” I asked, “can you help me understand my anger better?”

“Yes,” she responded adding, “anger is one of your egos most effective tools.”

“Really,” I questioned?

“Your ego’s chief role is to protect you. It’s important though to understand my use of the word ‘you’ here. Over the course of your life your ego has established firm boundaries. It does this to provide you with a sense of safety.”

“From whom,” I asked?

“From everything ‘not you’. To do this your ego builds what I’ll call ‘expectation models’. You create these models to determine what is acceptable to you. All things which do not fit within your expectation models are seen as ‘threats’ and will often manifest anger in you.”

“Are you saying that my sources of anger are triggers for me and that they arise because they’re identifying events outside my expectations of the way I think things should be?”

“Yes, exactly. All anger occurs when there is a gap between what you expect to happen (based on your expectation models) and what you think/believe you want to happen. The wider the gap, the greater the fear and consequently, the amount of anger that appears.”

“So, what I’m actually doing is protecting my self-image so that I feel safe, right?”

“Yes, although a part of you knows better. It senses there is a better way.”

“Which is,” I asked?

“If your aim is to live a joyful, contented, happy life, it would be wise to begin relaxing your expectation models. When a trigger arises, consciously recognize how you feel and decide if this feeling serves you in some way. Does it bring you joy? If it does not, make a conscious decision to release your anger, in favor of living a joy filled life.”

“Living a joy filled life is my greatest desire, so I’m going to do as you suggest. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with me.”


I’m willing to bet that something comes immediately to mind when you read this title…mourning. Perhaps it’s an intense feeling of sadness, or a gnawing pain of loss that can’t be recovered.

Likely, it arrived due to the death of someone or something you loved, leaving an emptiness inside you.

I have felt that many times in my life.

There was even a two year stretch where seven important people to me and a beloved dog all died. They were there one day and gone the next. Some of them left this earth quickly, with no warning. Others lingered on before fading out. Either way, it left a great deal of empty space in me.

Today I sensed being stalked by a different kind of mourning. It snuck up on me from behind and gently tapped me on the shoulder. I wasn’t ready for it.

The feelings it generated have been below the surface and out of view.

But one by one they approached me. None of them individually seemed significant, but collectively they dropped me to my knees.

Why, I wondered?

It’s as if they sat waiting for me, hovering almost within sight but not quite.

A favorite TV series that’s over and off the air. A bakery that has stopped making a glazed orange sweet roll I’ve loved for years. The absence of a service person to speak with on the phone, just a series of recorded voices running in an endless loop. Friends who fade away and are lost, disconnected or unavailable.

The list goes on in different directions.

An ice cream flavor I look forward to is discontinued. The fact that I never receive an actual letter in the mail. My knee not cooperating and allowing me to hike up and down hills. Folks I care about moving far away, eliminating our direct interactions.

I noticed something unusual about this process.

The more observant I became, the greater the sense of mourning mounted in me. When would it end, I wondered? Why had they all come today? Were they here to offer me a message?

Perhaps you know by now, if you’ve been with me on this journey, that I believe everything happens to benefit me. (I also believe this about you too) Adopting this attitude has radically altered my life for the better. It allows me to shift my view from thinking that things are happening TO me to knowing that all things happen THROUGH me.

I am not a victim. Mourning is not stalking me to punish me or create sadness or dejection. It is a messenger that offers me a way forward. It is reminding me that I have unfinished business that needs tending.

I can of course ignore this message if I choose. I am never made to do anything, but since I want to experience a wonderful life, I know I’m best served by paying attention.

So, I open up and breathe in the message. Here’s what ‘mourning’ told me.

“I am here to invite you to release each of these items. Let them go, for they do not serve you any longer. Recognize that in releasing them you are creating beautiful new space. Space that you can fill with anything you desire. All things change and shift if you let them.”

“These items that came to you today are waiting for you to decide if you are keeping them or letting them go. It is up to you to choose. Do you want open space for new adventures and to place precious new memories? Do you see the beauty of choice you have now that they have tapped you on your shoulder?”

I thought a moment.

Yes, I did see that. And yes, I do want that. So, I make a decision and consciously choose to free myself and release them, knowing there are better things waiting for me.

I am thankful for their appearance. I am even more thankful, that by making this decision, my period of mourning is over.

Winning In The Margins

I will make this assessment about me, and you can see if it might apply to you also…

I take things for granted.

No matter how attuned I am, I recognize I overlook the significance of certain people and events in my life. I don’t mean to. There’s just so much going on all the time, I find it impossible to pay close enough attention to everything.

I even miss some of the big stuff.

I wonder, is there a way to focus better, to pay attention and appreciate all the beautiful things in my life?

Part of me realizes how overwhelming this would be. And how impractical.

Many years ago, I read a book by Richard Paul Evans titled, The Five Things A Millionaire Taught Me. It made a huge impression on me. Richard’s basic premise was that we’re not very observant about opportunities in our lives. We make assumptions about what we can and cannot do. And financially, we form beliefs about what we can and cannot have in our lives based on the amount of money we possess.

Through his association with a millionaire, Richard’s eyes were opened to a new way of observing the world and he expanded his beliefs about how he could experience his life, especially as it related to his finances. He called his system, Winning In The Margins.

Reading his book opened new avenues for me too. I decided to take small steps toward an audacious goal.

I began on August 15, 2014, with the idea that I would set aside amounts of money I otherwise would have spent without taking any notice. I collected the extra one-dollar bills stuffed into my wallet, set aside birthday and Christmas money given to me, saved the equivalent value of coupons for places like CVS pharmacy. (I would tell myself that I saved money by using the coupons, therefore I could put aside those funds for this project). I wrapped coin, redeemed my reward points, cashed in some US Savings Bonds, funneled garage sale earnings and lot of other saving methods.

I tracked everything and recorded it on a spreadsheet so that I always knew where I stood relative to my goal.

After one full year I’d saved over five thousand dollars, exceeding the aim I’d set for myself.

I learned that lots and lots of little thing amount to meaningful big things.

I’ve continued this practice and on occasion, with my wife’s consent have included some investment dividends into the mix. This would have allowed us to accumulate over thirteen thousand dollars in the past nine years.

I say ‘would have’ because we don’t have the money anymore. That’s because all the little things became big things. They amounted to something powerful and so we decided to give all the money away. We donated it, sending it back into the world.

There is no shortage of worthy causes in this world of ours and we felt a desire to use the funds to support others. There are so many that have so little.

I’m not sharing this to impress you or brag about what we’ve done. I’m sharing this because I want you to know how powerful YOU are. Anyone who wants to, can do the same thing or something similar.

I believe this is a fact and it feels good to think we can each change the world for the better. Maybe not the whole world, but at least some part of it.

What Are You Afraid Of

Okay, so what are you afraid of? You don’t have to tell me of course, but if you chose to write out a list, what would be on it?

I would be very curious to see how many of the items we had in common.

I’ll share some of mine with you:

spiders, snakes, heights, abandonment, rejection, others anger, some driving conditions, health concerns, epic failure, grand scale success, falling and getting hurt…

I’m sure there are a lot more. These are simply the ones that popped out the fastest.

Part of me wonders if there is something that ties them all together. Did I inherit them from my parents? Did they all happen early in my life when I didn’t have the defense mechanisms I have today?

I don’t immediately see any common threads.

Then I wonder, are my fears real or imagined? What I sense is that they FEEL real to me and that’s enough.

Another part of me asks, is there a distinction between being afraid versus not liking or preferring something? Could I substitute the word ‘uncomfortable’ for ‘afraid’?

I review my list to see and conclude that for most of the items, the answer could be YES, they make me uncomfortable, which begs the next question. Why?

Why, out of all of the things I experience in my life, do these items make my list? What is their source?

I wonder if I discovered their source, would it make a difference?

I scan my list again and determine that in most cases, YES, it would make a difference. If I knew WHY, I might be able to more easily release them. I could take back the power they hold over me.

That’s an appealing idea and it prompts a new question. What can I do to reveal the underlying cause or concern?

Here’s one thing that occurs to me. Most of the items on my list are NOT concerning from a distance. I can see a spider or a snake several feet away and not be scared. It’s only when I’m near enough for it to touch me that the fear kicks in.

Why is that? Does that same theory hold true if I substitute fear of failure or success for spiders and snakes? Is it true that from a distance failure and success pose no threat, but as they get closer, they produce fear?

Another question enters the picture. Is there an ‘edge’ involved here? Is it true for me that everything is okay until it reaches an ‘edge’, a point where it becomes more real to me?

I sit with this for a while then realize, yes, that feels true to me. So, now what? What resources are available to me? What decisions could I make so that I can feel better and be less fearful?

No doubt there are many self-help books which offer sound, practical, useful advice. And there are numerous professionals available to perform wonderful support and aid to those in need.

For me though, I want to see if I can solve my own challenges first, so I begin to look deeper within. I seek to move beyond the ‘edge’ and into previously uncharted territory. Did I adopt beliefs others in my life taught me? If they shared their reasons, do I still see any value in them? Is there real danger or are my concerns imaginary? Do I choose to release myself from their grasp or are they all worth keeping?

These are all important questions for me to answer.

I realize we each have our own lists and our own set of decisions to make about the items they contain.

I hope you end up choosing wisely and profit from your decisions.

Threat Assessment

Do you always feel safe?

Or are you constantly aware that a certain amount of danger always exists? Perhaps it comes and goes depending on your circumstances.

Recently I was considering this issue and as I thought my way through it, some interesting ideas surfaced. I offer them to you for your consideration.

Five Aspects: Physical, Emotional, Mental, Spiritual and Ego

We are each comprised of five aspects. Each of these aspects focuses on specific areas of our lives and each is important and contributes to the whole. Ideally, they work in harmony, but sometimes they don’t, and this creates imbalances regardless of which aspect is challenged.

Ego’s Role

The ego’s job is to protect us from whatever it believes might pose a threat to us, whether it is true or not. Sometimes the ego can’t tell the difference, so it needs help from the other aspects.

Ego Messages

When the ego believes something is a threat, it reacts by sending messages to the other aspects, When they receive the message(s) they respond creating all sorts of reactions, many of which disturb the normal harmony that exists. When this happens repeatedly patterns are formed so that the same reaction(s) happen automatically.

If the message is received with a high intensity, the risk response is perceived to be greater, and this contributes to a stronger automatic response pattern. Even messages that are similar can create the same type of patterned response. Without some reason to change the automatic response, there is a linking that occurs. You encounter a threat, an automatic message is sent and received, and the same physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual reaction occurs, which creates programmed patterns, which then become your default settings.

All of this is based on a PERCEIVED threat, which our ego has detected and believes could represent danger and harm to us. It becomes very important to evaluate whether the threat is TRUE or FALSE, rather than accepting it at face value. There is great benefit to asking whether there is any tangible evidence to support the threat?

So, we can offer ourselves the opportunity to determine whether the threat is valid or a misperception by exercising our free will. We can step back and consider, using the intelligence of each of our aspects; physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and ego.

I find I often learn best when I reflect on an example. Maybe you do too, so, here’s one of mine. I am always fascinated by how significant this one simple event has turned out to be. It shed a brilliant, bright light on how important it was for me to break the cycle of automatic programed responses that did not represent the truth. They were merely default settings. They were based on incorrect information either told to me by others or misperceived by me.

Earlier in my life I formed a belief (based on what others told me) that if I was physically cold, I would ‘catch a cold’. This played out over and over in my life and was an extremely strong default setting. That is until one day some part of me challenged this idea. A tiny voice inside asked, “Do you truly believe that all one billion people living on this earth catch colds when their physical bodies are cold?” A heard the voice say something like, “That’s rubbish and can’t possibly be true. Maybe it’s time to take another look at your threat assessment and automatic responses that lead to this default setting.”

I began to recognize that my physical body was experiencing a symptom (being cold) which did NOT necessarily need to lead to having a physical cold, so I started to tell myself a new story. A story where I was stronger than I’d previously thought and where I was healthy and resilient. I informed my ego that its threat assessment was inaccurate and then shifted my default setting from weak (catching a cold) to strong (moving on with my life as a healthy being).

What I realized was that I could do that with any default setting that I felt no longer served me. What a fabulous turn of events. Rather than allow automatic settings to rule my life, I now question my assumptions and seek valuable evidence in support of what is actually happening. What a liberation.