Role-Playing: The Many Faces of Ego (Chapter 4, A New Earth)

The Roles We Play in Relationships

In Chapter 4 of “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose,” author Eckhart Tolle states, “When you are completely identified with a role, you confuse a pattern of behavior with who you are, and you take yourself very seriously. You also automatically assign roles to others that correspond to yours.”–page 91

There is so much role-playing that the ego does that it truly is difficult to peel away the layers and get to the real person inside. Yet that is the goal of true awakening.

We play so many roles in life and yet these roles are not really who we are. A prime example is when we are in a romantic relationship with another person. We have a conceptualization of ourselves and another of our partner, and a mental image of how we should interact with one another. In turn, our partner has his or her own self-image along with one of us and how that relates to us as a couple. In essence these four mental conceptualizations between two people are “ultimate fictions,” according to Eckhart. The end result is conflict.

While role-playing these “fictions,” we spend so much time and effort trying to please another, playing the role of life partners, building a relationship together, planning for our futures together, raising a family, making a living, climbing the ladder to success, and looking to these roles as our source of happiness. Our identities become too seriously connected to the image of ourselves and the image of our partner.

Although we may look to our partners as the source of our happiness, relying on another to bring the happiness we seek never works. When they play the role we have for them well, we think we are happy. When they don’t play the role the way we conceptualize it, we become disappointed and unhappy.

Yet we can choose to react differently. It is not the person who makes us sad, happy, mad, or frustrated but rather our choice of how we react to our perceived identity or role of that person.

The key to the beginning of an authentic relationship then becomes when we turn inward and peel away the layers of roles with which we currently identify. It is not important if our partner understands it, approves or even participates. Each person progresses at his or her own pace.

When we become more present with our partner and look for peace, we will find ourselves listening more to our partner. This will and does affect our relationship in a positive way. While our partners may not be in agreement or understand our awakening, they will be able to feel a sense of peace by just being in our presence. They will feel understood and sense a deeper connection because of it. The result will be a more authentic relationship, particularly if our partner also begins to awaken by becoming aware of the role-playing inside.

A New Earth: Chapter 4 Radio Podcast

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a radio discussion of Chapter 4 of “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose” on radio. You can hear me, along with 6 other inspiring people, discuss Chapter 4 below. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to connect with some amazing people who are creating a new earth!

Click here to get your own player.

It’s All About You–A New Earth

If you’re thinking it’s too late to sign up for the online class with Oprah and author Eckhart Tolle, it’s not! It’s all about you! Go to to sign up and download the episodes you’ve missed.

Earth Hour: 8 p.m. March 29, 2008

What are you doing this Saturday, March 29, 2008? Please join me and thousands of others around the world as we turn off our electricity for an hour as part of Earth Hour, 2008. Learn how you can make a difference by going to the official website.

Life Challenges: What Led Me Here (Part IV)

It seemed the fire department took forever. A few minutes felt like hours to me. As I watched my house from outside in the bitter January cold, I couldn’t help but feel like I was trapped in some twilight zone nightmare, wondering if I’d wake up to find my house still there.

The fire department arrived and put out the fire. Fortunately, it didn’t spread to the first floor of the house, but there was significant smoke and fire damage in the basement. The house reeked with smoke for a long time after that, and I found myself pulling out fans and opening windows during the bitter January winter weather in order to get the smell out.

The fire was only a symbol of the state that my life was in during that time. One negative thing led to another, so it seemed. It seemed that whenever I turned around, nothing turned out how I had planned and the stress just got bigger.

I ended up landing the job in New York City, moved across the country with nothing to my name but two suitcases of clothes and a few photographs of my kids. Not wanting to disrupt my children’s schooling in the middle of the school year, I thought it was best if they finished the school year and joined me in the summer to start school in the fall in New York: at least this was my plan.

I naively gave my husband temporary primary care of the kids in the meantime, thinking that this would be only a temporary arrangement until the next school year. My plans didn’t work out as I had envisioned them and I quickly found myself in the middle of a contentious divorce and custody battle with the first round lasting another year and a half. (There were several rounds after that in court, too. While I won a court battle a year later with the same judge who had previously ruled on the custody battle a year earlier, the fact is that I still am a non-custodial mom. )

Sadly, as much as I tried to protect them, my kids suffered the most throughout it all. All the words I can muster up here cannot accurately express what they went through. It is not my intention to write this story here, because, in some ways we are still living the story. I will save those bittersweet memories for my book, which I hope will provide some healing for all of us.

The role of “non-custodial mom” is a role I’ve now lived for over seven years. It wasn’t a role that I ever thought I’d be in, nor a role that I wanted. I spent endless nights crying over my situation. I cried when my kids would get mad at me, because my time was so limited with them, and I wanted everything to go perfectly when we were together. I cried because I knew I couldn’t explain to them how this situation came to be. I cried because I knew it would be years before I could really explain to them why things happened as they did. And I cried because I didn’t know if they would eventually understand it. But more importantly, I cried because I missed my kids and felt their pain and suffering.

Being a non-custodial mom can be very difficult. Although many fathers know my pain, they don’t know what it’s like to be a mother and be away from her children. People would look at me and I could almost “hear” their judgments of me with thoughts like “A mother never leaves her children.” or “I could never do that.” If there is one thing that I have learned from all of this, is that sometimes we are in situations in life that we never thought we’d be in. So I’ve learned not to say “never.”

Being a non-custodial mom is a role that a lot of society doesn’t understand. Most people assume that a mother always gets her kids in a contested custody battle, unless there is something wrong with her. All too often I could feel other peoples’ disapproval of me as a mother when I revealed my situation to them. I used to think, “How could I get them to understand that I love my kids so very much? How could I get them to understand that the court systems vary by state and that there are many other women out there like me, physically away from their kids, but who are and continue to be, excellent mothers? “ I used to spend a lot of energy feeling sorry for my situation, for my kids and for what I felt were the injustices of the court system, crying my eyes out because of the predicament that I had gotten into.

During this time, I had a lot of time to myself and began working on my own personal development. Looking back, I feel I didn’t handle all of this well, as I was too hard on myself. People say I’ve got the strength of a mule, but inside I was heart-broken and wounded. I needed to seek forgiveness. I wanted so badly to have forgiveness from my children and finally realized that I needed to forgive myself first.

During that time, I can honestly say that Jesus saved me. I had a lot of time alone and found myself praying and getting involved with a church and church life in New York. The time spent grieving for my father allowed my mother and I to heal old wounds and to mend our hearts with one another: just in time, before she developed dementia.

Alone and praying everyday, I began to study the power of prayer, the law of attraction and learned to meditate. I also started to read everything I could get my hands on that dealt with these issues. One book led to another and I began my journey of love as The Spirited Strider, a name I call myself on my blog and website. It’s a journey I am still living, but this time I am doing it by exploring my passion for writing and teaching. I am finding my journey very exciting.

Although I would never choose consciously to be a non-custodial parent, my children and I have adjusted to our situation. Writing articles, blogs and participating in various on-line forums about spirituality and personal development are opportunities that I just knew I needed to be a part of.

I’m grateful for my journey, for the opportunity to be here and excited about what’s to come.

I Can Make You Thin-Week 2 Preview

Watch this promotion of Paul McKenna’s “I Can Make You Thin” broadcast, scheduled later tonight on TLC. It’s the story of Chris, a man who has had a lot of success with Paul’s method.

Tonight’s episode is about the Tapping Technique. From watching Paul’s videos on his site, I see that his tapping technique is a bit different than the basic recipe that I use (from Gary Craig on the EFT website), but it obviously works for people like Chris.

On a personal note, I found it challenging to eat consciously this week. Some days were better than others. My challenge was not the television, but eating out and socializing with other people. I realized I wasn’t so conscious about my food as I was being conscious of the people with me! So my goal is to learn how to better “multi-task” that situation (consciously connecting with others while consciously eating) until it becomes a habit.

What do you all think?

My Jenny Wrens

A few weeks ago, I was on my front porch, locking the door to my house, when I heard the most beautiful birds singing in my left ear. I looked to my left and to my surprise, there were two winter wrens, each perched upon parallel power lines that run between my house and the neighbor’s. I always called them Jenny Wrens in Iowa, but after doing a bit of research, I learned that this term is incorrect!

I was struck by the fact that I was incredibly close to both birds and that neither moved an inch, even with the sound of my moving keys and the movement of my body towards them. It felt as if they were singing directly to me. I smiled and paused for a moment, said a few kinds words of gratitude to them, and then had to bid them farewell, as I had to get to work. The experience left me with a smile on my face the entire day.

So in honor of my two newest friends named Jenny, I am posting a link to where you can learn more about winter wrens. If you click twice into the second page, you can also here one of them sing! I just love their singing! Isn’t it beautiful?

These symbols of beauty that bear the season “winter” in their name remind me on this first full day of spring how excited I am for new awakenings!

Winter Wren

Pretending to Be Necessary

There were so many parts of Chapter 3 of “A New Earth” that resonated with me that I found it difficult to decide what to write about here. I ended up re-watching the online class tonight as I wanted to understand and review it in greater depth. In that review, I was struck by Eckhart Tolle’s comment that “Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose.” He was talking about the core of ego. He goes on to make the point that no matter how much you worry, it won’t bring about change. In other words, no amount of worrying will bring the change you may be seeking. The same goes with complaining.

Yet around us, and within us, we probably hear those voices of worry and complaints often. Often they are expressed as voices in our heads. Sometimes we verbalize them to others or hear others verbalize them to us. Some people may spend their entire days thinking about their worries or complaining about situations, people or their problems. These voices are all the ego.

The ego loves drama. The more attention we give to our worries and complaints, the more worries and complaints we’ll have. It’s a concept from the law of attraction: “What you think about comes about.” (or) “What you resist, persists,” or as Eckhart says, “What you fight, you strengthen and what you resist, persists” (page 75).

What is even more powerful to realize is that when we verbalize our worries and complaints, the more we are likely to attract others to join our “worry circle” or “complainers’ corner.” Think about how office gossip spreads, or how two parents can stay up late with worry over their teenage child’s failure to make a phone call saying that he or she was running late. We can get so wrapped up in the complaints or worry that we only see the negative in a person or situation. This leads to imagining all kinds of things, such as untrue motivations of another person, or imagining the worst case scenario in all cases. The drama of all of this can erupt into misunderstandings, hurt feelings, arguments, fights, and even violence, particularly if the ego identifies passionately about the matter.

The good news in all of this is that when we are awakened, we can step back from our ego, from the drama and see the play that is being acted out in our heads and in those of others. Worry and complaining are only pretending to be necessary as our ego demands drama for its survival. When we recognize these feelings and behaviors as our ego, we can begin to seek peace within ourselves and are one step closer to our own awakening.

I don’t know if that made sense to any of you, but I’m not going to worry about it! (The old me would have worried I wasn’t being understood.)

Paul McKenna & I Can Make You Thin

Did anyone catch The Learning Channel’s newest show called “I Can Make You Thin?” last night? It’s from a man called Paul McKenna, who has his method, book and show from the UK on losing weight.

What fascinates me about this method is that he will be using the Tapping Technique, also known as EFT (emotional freedom technique) as part of his method in serving others towards their weight-loss goals. I recently was introduced to EFT and have many of the DVDs as I want to learn how to master it myself for a variety of reasons; some that are for my own self-improvement and others relate to serving others.

So, I’ve decided to try this method. Anyone want to join me? I will blog about it as I go along, too. To learn more, you can catch the show at various times on TLC by going to The Learning Channel website and checking the listings. I believe it is being replayed several times this week. Paul’s website is also a place where people can sign up, learn from each other and post to forums there. I joined as spiritedstrider there as well.

Of course, the disclaimer is to consult with your doctor before beginning any new diet or exercise program.

To recap the first show, he gave us FOUR GOLDEN RULES for the first week. They are:

1. When you’re hungry, go eat! What you are doing here is telling your body that there will always be enough food. Depriving yourself only tells your body that you are starving and slows down your metabolism, so go ahead and eat. If you eat frequently, you will increase your metabolism.

2. Eat what you want! This is the fun one! He says to throw out all your food that doesn’t inspire you, but that you’ve felt that you had to eat. Then make a list of the five foods you absolutely love and go out and buy them.

3. Eat consciously! Eat slowly and enjoy every mouthful. Taste the food you put into your mouth by putting your fork and knife down for each time you put the food in your mouth. If you drink alcohol with your meals, save it for later. Chew your food about 20 times with NO DISTRACTIONS. That means no tv, no radio, no reading, no computer, etc. Focus on what you’re eating, each bite at a time.

4. When you think you’re full, stop eating! To do this one, we need to be in tune with our stomach. When you suspect you are full, stop eating. He gives us a technique that we are to use at least once a day for the first week. The technique is to close your eyes while eating.

Other tips: Weigh yourself every couple of weeks, starting now at the beginning of this plan. Don’t weigh yourself everyday or even every week. And drink lots of water!

So, is anyone interested? I am going to try to do this for the next 5 weeks and see what happens. I ate my breakfast this morning with my eyes closed and found that my fork couldn’t grab the canteloupe I had cut up without opening my eyes! 🙂 I did find, however, that I was full faster and didn’t eat it all.