Allora oggi . . . a thought-provoking podcast about ego was on the menu today. The dialogue between a couple of astrologers and another woman who is the director of some spiritual school that uses the enneagram as a tool to classify persona archetypes, kind of like the Myers-Briggs type indicator on steroids . . . at least that’s how they portrayed the enneagram. The premise of her argument is that the ego gets a bad rap in our culture. Yes, agreed, that is what I tell my clients anyway. Something that strikes me as quite amusing about this idea relates to a graduate school homework assignment, which I was obligated to give. When I taught a social work practice and theory class to graduates students, one of the homework assignments entailed an elaborate list of behaviors. The students were expected to classify the behaviors and match the behavior with a type of “defense mechanism”. On some level I thought the assignment was absurd and I bristled at the notion of labeling certain behaviors as “defense mechanism” when really it just seemed to me a creative way of coping with being a human being.
Another super intriguing aspect of the podcast was how the guest host elaborated on the notion that ego is a coping mechanism for how human beings try to connect to “spirit”. Ego can get in the way of that connection when unconscious thoughts are driving the bus. So for me, the interesting thing with this topic is how to use the information when working with people through my Minerva Group consulting. Honestly, everything I do with the Minerva group consulting is about discovering ways to acknowledge the unconscious aspects of human behavior and noticing the dysfunctional dynamics as a result. The other attractive aspect is how to use the information to benefit clients through astrology chart interpretation. Using the information from their natal astrological charts to help them understand the concept of ego without judgment but with awareness.
So here’s an example of an unconscious thought at play. The other day I received a summons in the mail. My initial reaction was guilt, quickly followed by relief that my spouse was not home to see the summons in case I needed to either hide the summons or find a way to explain its existence. How crazy is that? My first respond to seeing the summons ignited a pang of fear in spite of the fact that I have not intentionally done anything “wrong”. What is it about human beings or maybe it’s something about my nature “ego”, that went straight to guilty as charged in spite of the evidence. By the way, the summons was for jury duty. As I reflect on this scenario as it relates to the ego podcast discussion, I feel as if this is a concept worth exploring.
An additional matter from the podcast was linked to the idea about connection to “spirit” and encompasses that each of us is looking to be loved; to love; to feel as if we have contributed to something and to feel fulfilled. So interesting how this message has returned after initially hearing it close to 15 years ago when a friend and I bought those Tony Robbins tapes. From the hours of tapes and all the information offered, it was the point about every human being wanting to be challenged; to feel safe; to be loved and to love and contribute to something bigger than themselves that stuck in my memory. These notions about connection can also be exploited for more sinister intentions such as violence and terror. For example, the way gangs use the need for connection, as a recruitment tool is on some level quite sophisticated. It also reminds me of an interview I recently heard with a Canadian woman whose son was recruited into ISIS and became a suicide bomber. It’s fascinating how ISIS is using these same principles to recruit westerners. The important point in all of this is to understand the primal need for connection. Someplace in our reptilian brain, we yearn for connection and we allow that yearning to undermine our serenity in life. Is there a way that we can support one another in meeting our needs regarding connection in a way that does not condone or include violence and destructive behavior? How do we bring to light this unconscious human need along with the associated unconscious behavior patterns that f—up everything we say we want?
Not that “C” word but cooperation . . . that “C” word. Currently, I am reading “Think On These Things” by Krishnamurti. This book is structured in a question and response format drawn from a number of lectures recorded years ago. Anyway, one question posed during these discussions pertains to cooperation and what does it mean? Krishnamurti defines cooperation as doing things together, to build together, to feel together, to have something in common so that we can freely work together. Interestingly, he acknowledges that people generally don’t feel inclined to work together naturally, easily, happily; and so they are compelled to work together through various inducements such as threat, fear, punishment, and reward. I can corroborate that statement. As someone who consults with other human beings on this very topic of cooperation including collaboration and coordination, I was quite intrigued by his perspective. A reoccurring challenge with my consulting work is in fact that resistance to cooperation. Indeed, the challenge around cooperation is what keeps me engaged, energized and enthusiastic about working with human beings in the workplace.
“. . . intention, out of which action comes.” Yeah, so I read that sentence this afternoon as I began my seated meditation. The other day while lunching with a new friend, she asked me how I filled my days. What an awesome question and one I’ll need to remember. Anyway, after my new friend asked this question she may have regretted it because I answered honestly and provided a blow-by-blow description of the content of my days. I shared with her how I spend time every day focused on Italian and I also revealed that I included on my to-do-list writing each day and that I actually never followed through with the writing. Her response was “what a great intention to have”. As I reflected on her earnest enthusiasm about my intention, I realized that yes it is a great intention and the other thing about intentions are that they have real power. It was intention that preceded me studying Italian; it was intention that preceded me traveling to Italy three times over the past four years so that I could immerse myself in the language and culture. It was intention that preceded a major move and downsize eighteen months ago. It was intention that preceded the Allora Oggi blog, it was intention that preceded most of everything that has occurred in my life since my first Saturn return, including today’s posting.
Every day for the past two weeks I have been compiling a list of tasks I wanted to accomplish that day. Without fail, every item on the list plus a few additional chores, I have been able to accomplish with the exception of one task. Writing! Developing a daily writing discipline has been on my mind for months. Actually probably much longer but the last several months the thoughts about writing have bubbled up like a recently popped bottle of champagne. These nagging thoughts were so prominent in my consciousness that for the past fourteen days I have included writing on my daily to do list. By the way, a daily to do list is so not my style but that is another topic for a different day. Putting writing on the daily to do list was intended to get me motivated. Also, I figured how hard would it be to write a paragraph every day and just see what I might have after a year or so. Thinking about doing something like writing a little bit each day does not seem so daunting as it has in the past. There was a time in my not so distant history that the mere mention of committing to a daily writing practice seemed quite unlikely. However, 539 days ago I discovered Duolingo. Initially, I began using duolingo as a way to bully myself into focusing a little bit each day on Italian grammar and on expanding my Italian vocabulary. Duolingo doles out what they refer to as lingots. Each time a language leaner completes a grammar activity, or finishes another level of learning or maintains a streak of days for studying, they can earn lingots. It’s crazy but those dumb little lingots are enough to spark my competitive spirit, so much so, that I have accumulated 539 days of Italian language practice without fail. Dang . . . what else could I accomplish with that kind of attention? Will someone please give me a writegot??
So, without the incentive of a lingot or writegot, I am using Allora Oggi as a substitute incentive and accountability tool for a daily writing practice. Evidently, putting writing on the to do list wasn’t incentive enough. And honestly, the motivation that pushed me over the edge to follow through with the writing endeavor today is because I shared with another living breathing human being that I placed writing on my to do list and then failed daily to cross it off. Plus I am really tired of watching the summer Olympics.
Allora oggi . . . ho finito leggere il primo mio libro in italiano e inglese. Mi piace molto questo libro. L’autrice di questo libro non è italiana oppure americana ma lei è da India e sua lingua nativa non è italiano o inglese. Generalmente quest libro è sulla scrittrice l’esperienza imparare e scrivere in italian. La scrittrice parlava su come difficile era a imparare italian quando vivere in America. Si, posso attestare come difficile è a imparare italiano quando vivete negli stati uniti. Prima, inglese è la lingua officiale negli stati uniti. Secondo, l’italiani immigranti chi arrivano qui molti anni fa hanno assimilato molto tempo fa. Certo, ci sono italiani chi ancora venga qui ma è difficile per loro a continuano parlare in italiano e difficile per americani chi vogliamo imparare italiano perche non parecchi la gente parlare in italiano. non è posto a pratica italiano. Adesso, posso studiare per un’ora per settimana con Gabriele il mio insegnate italiano. Durante la lezione, io sto parlando in italiano e io pratica il mio comprensione di italiano. poi ogni giorno io pratica italiana lingua quando mi leggo e ascolto alla radio e t.v.