Getting Past the Ego's Response

Back in the day when I was a political junkie I’d occasionally read an editorial or an opinion in the newspaper that would get me so fired up I’d dash off a letter to the editor in response. But before sending the letter I would go back and re-read the original offending article to be sure my response was as sharp as possible. And many times, much to my embarrassment, I found that the original article was not offensive at all. Sometimes it was even on my side and my response said the same thing it did. After expending my emotional response the original article would read completely different from the way I originally read it. Fortunately, because I didn’t send the letters before re-reading the original articles, my embarrassment was limited to myself.

After this happened a few times I finally caught on: My emotional response to something early in the article blinded me to the rest of the article. In my expectation that I would be attacked I read attack. I was experiencing how the ego always speaks first. It not only speaks first but its response is always emotional and defensive. I learned to step away when I read something that evoked an emotional response in me. I’d let my own response run its course and then go back and re-read the article later. Needless to say after a while I wrote far fewer letters to the editor.

This lesson came in handy as a student of A Course in Miracles. Much of ACIM seemed loving to me, but there was also much that I felt condemned me, too. I was reading through the filter of the guilt in my own mind. I would have fearful and sometimes angry responses that closed my mind and blinded me to what followed. I was defensive because I expected to be attacked and condemned. This is why later I’d read something in ACIM that would release me from guilt and fear and I’d feel like I never read it before. Each time I read ACIM it was a new book! As layers of guilt and fear peeled away ACIM became more charge-neutral (matter-of-fact) and more loving. I began to read its parts through its whole message rather than as isolated, unconnected concepts.

It took another long while but eventually I learned to extend this lesson beyond my emotional responses to what I read. I learned to take a moment when I had an emotional response to something I heard from another, whether in person or on the radio or TV. I was always amazed by how much I didn’t hear once my emotions were engaged. I had nothing to lose but embarrassment by taking a moment to let the emotions and defensiveness pass before responding.


My emotional responses were very revealing. They taught me that I expected to be attacked and condemned because I felt guilty. The specific form of what upset me showed me the specific form that guilt took in my mind so that I could undo it. I was never grateful for the upset. But I learned to be grateful for the opportunity to see what was going on in my own mind.

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Learn about the books The ACIM Mentor Articles, The Plain Language A Course in Miracles, 4 Habits for Inner Peace, and Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace at www.acimmentor.com.

Comments

will said…
I don't understand the last paragraph about the 'specific form that upset you' and the 'specific form it took in your mind'. Using your political part could you give an example.
ACIM Mentor said…
Let's say I was upset because some politician was opposed to me having equal rights under the law because I am a lesbian. She would say all sorts of untrue and nasty things about gay and lesbian people to justify her position. I would have an emotional charge when I heard this because I still felt some guilt around being homosexual. Now when I hear those things it doesn't even touch me.

will said…
So it is like doing Lesson 1 from the workbook?

The form that upset you was what was being said and the form in your mind was guilt about being homosexual?

So when you do forgiveness you say to yourself "I must have guilt about being homosexual since I am upset but it has no meaning."

Whether or not you believe that (it has no meaning)it is just about doing the process?
will said…
So when you're doing forgiveness and the personal mind says this is stupid (the process of forgiveness) because of course what the person said has meaning! So you remind yourself that the ego is always going to say it's stupid, the whole process is stupid and you just ignore it?
ACIM Mentor said…
Will, I never found it useful to say something was without meaning when it had meaning to me. That just led to denial, not undoing. I had to address the meaning I gave to it. To undo the guilt I had to address the guilt. Why was I guilty? Toward what was I guilty? I had to undo my belief that there was a power outside and over me (a god) who set up an absolute morality that I had to live by or be punished. Every time I felt guilty it came back to this belief (which, by the way, I didn't find in my thoughts but in my feelings). And each time I found that belief I had to remind myself that that god does not exist. It is just a construct. I have never experienced it, only anticipated it. And I would remember my loving experiences of Truth. Eventually experience trumped the deeply-held concept.

My book, "Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace", goes into this in depth. It explains where guilt comes from, how it shows up, and how to undo it. It contains a lot of examples.
will said…
Yes, yes. I was mixing up the tables and chairs in the first lesson with your example. When I said the mind was saying this is stupid, or having a feeling of being a phony, I was thinking about what happens in Lesson 1 with objects in the room.
Sage Starfield said…
Can we say that meaning is never Truth?
ACIM Mentor said…
Will, I do not know if you are agreeing with what I said, saying I didn't answer your question, or saying something else...
ACIM Mentor said…
Sage, nothing in the universe of form is Truth. Meaning, however, can come from your awareness of Truth (Holy Spirit). It would be temporary, of course, but useful.
will said…
Liz,
The yes, yes was agreement. But when I went back over it I realized I hadn't really understood it. This stuff is hard for me to understand I have to keep re-reading it and re-reading it. I went back to the beginning of Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace and this time around I'm getting it but it's slow going. My mind doesn't want to do it. But I can tell it is the right time so I'll keep after it. The unconscious is sure calling the shots in a lot of our thinking. My minds reaction to Releasing Guilt is similar to reading the text for the first time.
will said…
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will said…
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Sage Starfield said…
Will, I commend you in your valiant efforts! We should all be as dedicated!
Hal Seeley said…
Liz:

Just yesterday I encountered a young lady on the phone who had called me back about a complaint I had over an overcharge for a medical device the hospital gave to my wife when she broke her arm a couple of months ago. It was obvious from the beginning of the conversation she was dismissing me and my complaint and as the conversation went on she continually stepped on my conversation and I could feel my irritation building to the point I was just downright angry. She had her mission and she would not consider my point. I finally hung up on her and I was really pissed by then.

For the next few hours I felt like I had been run over by a train, killed, and then came back from the dead roaming about like a zombie. I could not believe I had lost it so easily and was plotting my next move to get back to that snotty, inconsiderate person. I eventually began to awaken from my spitting anger and knew I had to let the whole incident go as it was all ego driven, but there was silver lining to the incident. Last night as I pondered what had happened I began to realize that my emotions had began to brew earlier that morning and something was amiss.

A few days ago I experienced for the first time in nearly 30 years the awakening to the Truth within. It also came to my attention that for most of my spiritual path I had merely imitated what I was reading and hearing about coming to know the Truth. My ego was alerted immediately and went to work to get my attention away from the Truth. What the ego (I) did was to then think I was the Truth and I began to ignore its Presence that has been with me as long as I can remember. That's when the Presence began to prod me and I felt the prodding at a deep level and knew something was amiss.

I awoke this morning after bringing back into my awareness my friend and mentor, my higher power, or Holy Spirit, whatever you want to call Him, and the peace has returned.So you see, there was a learning in my outburst of yesterday. Did I want to dwell in the war zone or rise above the battle field as an observer and dwell in Peace and Love? I choose Peace and Love.
Unknown said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary Kathleen said…
Liz, you have a gift for describing what is unconscious and bringing it to my consciousness. I need constant reminders and I thank you very much for sharing your gift of clarity.
Christine said…
We've all "been there", Hal, glad it turned out differently this time!By choice!
ACIM Mentor said…
There you go, Hal!
will said…
Liz,
This quote is taken from your link ‘ACIM and Body Disorders.’

“Sickness is a decision that you make; it is your choice for weakness, in your mistaken conviction that weakness is strength. When this occurs, you see True Strength as a threat and health as a danger. (WACIM-19.1.6.) “

I’m assuming “your choice for weakness” is a decision of the subconscious?
The Course is full of statements like this. So again I’m assuming that until the subconscious is healed these choices continue to be made without our awareness?
will said…
Mistake: (WACIM-5.1a.1)
ACIM Mentor said…
It's not a decision of the subconscious, Will. It's a decision you make in your subconscious (out of your conscious awareness). Like the ego, the subconscious is not separate from you and has no power over you. The subconscious is just what we call the place in your mind where you put what you deny. So the subconscious does not heal. You bring up to conscious awareness what you put there so you can heal your mind.
will said…
OK a decision you make in your subconscious, it is still out of our conscious awareness, right. When it says "sickness is a decision that you make" it is not a decision I make like what to have for dinner tonight? I think I will get sick tonight. It is a decision out of our awareness to fear truth or to get sick. If it was conscious we would say I choose to not fear truth and that would be the end of it?
will said…
It's Ok Liz, Coming from working in the mental health field the depth of Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace is pretty awe inspiring. I can't expect to get what took you ten years of thinking about in a few emails. I'll keep reading.
Anonymous said…
Yes,it's out of your awareness.
will said…
Thanks Anonymous. If I had slowed down and re-read Liz's response she was telling me that. Too much caffeine.
will said…
OK, You don't heal the sub conscious, you practice the Four Habits which brings the sub conscious into your awareness where a little at a time where you can bring it to the Holy Spirit to be healed.
will said…
So, A big part of Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace is identifying the sub conscious (thoughts, thinking) so you will recognize them and know what needs to be healed.
will said…
About: Identifying and defining All thinking errors conscious and sub conscious.
ACIM Mentor said…
Will, that "Anonymous" was actually me, Liz. I don't know why it came out as anonymous.

Anyway, yes, releasing guilt is a process of becoming aware of your unconscious and conscious beliefs so that you can undo the ones that are not true and that hurt you.
will said…
It was a little haphazard but by the end of the evening I felt I had a pretty good idea of the process. Last night the implications of this 'unawareness' really struck me. If your doing the Course and are unaware of this process (the role of the subconscious and how to heal it), you could end up spinning your wheels for a long time.
will said…
I just wanted to add, there is so much in the Course that can leave a person confused of what is going on and what they need to do, it really helps to have a small concrete plan written out on what is going on and how to deal with it. Last night I understood the connection of the two books '4 Habits and Releasing Guilt.'
Unknown said…
Hi Liz, thank you for this article. I can relate.
I'm learning to detach from being a news junkie (some call it putting my head in the sand), but it's very difficult these days to "hide". I live in the Pacific Northwest, and can not look out the window or step outdoors without seeing and smelling the evidence of fires all up and down the western seaboard. A friend sent me a fire map, and the image of multitudes of fires from Alaska to Mexico, the threats of The Really Big One, (earthquake, tsunami, drought etc.) have really flooded my consciousness, as you have ably pointed out in your ACIM Mentor article #297 on The Apocalypse. I'm really struggling with a sense of immanent doom for us all, for the planet and all life, and am having a hard time putting one foot in front of the other ~ feeling helpless futility. I don't even know how to pray. "O Father" I sigh, "What can we do, what have we done?" Is it true the Holy Spirit is not interested in "the world" or doesn't believe in it? It would seem so. How are we to live? I must be flooded with guilt! I really want to see, feel, know, uncover, my oneness with God,Love
ACIM Mentor said…
Unknown, it does sound more like denial than true detachment. When you are truly detached it is because you see it is not real. The fact that you are bothered shows that it is still very real to you. And, yes, you see guilt because guilt is real to you. Your sense of doom is your expectation of punishment. The universe of form has no meaning in itself. Any meaning you see in it you project there.
The Holy Spirit is the part of your mind that knows that the universe is not real. But It also knows that you think it is and will meet you in that awareness. Do not deny what seems real to you. Instead, invite the Holy Spirit into your experiences. Then they become the means to be aware of the Holy Spirit rather than ends in themselves.
Unknown said…
Thank you. I want to be comforted, but sometimes don't believe I deserve it. I now invite the Holy Spirit into my experiences.
Chris

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