When Ego interferes with Maintaining Balance in Chronic Health Management

The value of identity of course is that so often with it comes purpose.”  ~Richard Grant

Sometimes, I have an ego problem. My ego sometimes fools me into thinking I “am” my job. It fools me into thinking that all the responsibility rests on my shoulders and that it would be selfish or irresponsible of me to say “no” to anything. It fools me into thinking that I am handling everything just fine, when in reality, maybe – just maybe – I am not handling things as fine as I thought. Maybe – just maybe – I am pushing myself too hard to please everyone, trying to maintain some standard level of effort, with a perceived or imposed criteria. Maybe – just maybe – I am not seeing the forest for the tress, and not recognizing that I need to let go of a few things at some point in order to re-establish a healthy personal balance.

For me, part of this issue stems from my training as a meteorologist. We are trained to intake significant amounts of data, make sense of it, and issue a report (i.e. forecasts and warnings) about that information within a certain time frame at set deadlines. Because of my health situation, I no longer work the operational desk, and have moved into management positions…but my training still applies. I still give it my all to make deadlines. My ego as a scientific professional will allow me to do no less than my very best. Therein lies the very problem with my ego.

You see, my ego doesn’t always align with my ability to maintain the balance in managing my chronic health. When there are urgent deadlines at work, and requests coming my way for “just one more thing”, my ego always rears its head and has me hopping to the task…even though my body is simultaneously giving me strong signals to slow down soon, or it will take me down. Part of this also stems from a form of “survivor’s guilt“, in that my directors accommodate my health so willingly, that I can often feel awkward/guilty/wrong not pushing myself to the limit when we have important deadlines – even though I know it is dangerous to my health. WTF?!?!?! Why do I do this??

One of the signs for me that I am reaching the critical breaking point is when I find myself so exhausted that life becomes a blur of falling out of bed in the morning, trudging to my workstation in my home office, logging in to work …and sitting in a fog, staring at the screen in a fugue, paralyzed as to what to tackle next. By the end of the day, I feel like my to-do list has grown significantly, and my ability to tackle it has shrunk. I then get through dinner in a fog, with no energy to do much but lie in my darling Mike’s lap while he strokes my hair. Then I go to bed (usually by 9 PM) and sleep like the dead, dreading that I have to start the whole thing again the next day. Basically – I only exist, as opposed to live, when I am pushed too far out of balance. I become irritable, and my patience shrinks considerably. I find myself less able to be around people as my energy drains to zero in seconds – and as an extrovert, that is telling! (Sometimes I even tell my cat to leave me alone…all that loud meowing! I swear, the more out of balance I become, the more he meows for attention – like he knows I need to take a break and rest! LOL!)

Once I recognized (yet again) the dangerous slippery slope I was sliding down, I took steps to combat it by letting colleagues know that my limits are reached and that I cannot handle more than I have on my plate. It can become tiresome and increasingly stressful though, always advocating for yourself and trying to enforce your balance boundaries when people in your life and work around you operate at a faster pace…often verbally nodding heads in understanding, but expectations of output not jiving with that verbal agreement. And living up to my own “high achiever” reputation does not help that balance battle! (See – ego again!)

Recently, someone sent me a link to the Lazy Song video by Bruno Mars…and it hit a chord. The Lazy Song (with Leonard Nimoy) is very funny. And, sometimes it is simply the best advice for when your balance has taken a hike!

Taking a cue from that video, and steeling my own personal balance backbone once again, I dove into strengthening my balance by reconnecting more deeply and singularly into my yoga practice. I began doing restorative yoga alone, with native american shamanic drumming as background music, going with the flow my body wants…taking my ego completely out of the equation. I gotta say – I am loving my time alone and with my ego as silenced as I can get it!

What about you? Does your ego sometimes get in the way of maintaining balance in your health management? (Or is it just me??? ;)

“When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another-and ourselves.” -Jack Kornfield

Namaste

Carolyne