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We are all connected! (how humility tames the ego)

One of the cruellest tricks depression and anxiety can play on us is the overwhelming feeling of being lost and worthless. If our minds are allowed to focus primarily on negative echoes of the past, even the simplest problem can become aggravated to unbearable magnitude.

Should a client present with such despondency, it is the job of a good therapist to help find the meaning and purpose – the connectedness – that has often been lost somewhere along the path. It may sound a little "out there" to some, but we are infinitely happier when we feel we are connected to the world around us. It doesn't have to be in big, ostentatious ways: sometimes just a handful of good friends can make the world feel less claustrophobic and suffocating.

A lovely idea from Stoicism is that of Sympatheia: the idea that all things are connected.

In itself, this is not a notion exclusive to the Stoics as the idea of everything being connected runs through all philosophies and religions in one form or another. But it is notable that people often mistakenly assume Stoicism has something to do with having no emotions or repressing feelings. Sympatheia, however, underlies a greater sense the Stoics had of cosmic connection and, indeed, and spiritual awareness.

Meditate often on the interconnectedness and mutual interdependence of all things in the universe.

- Marcus Aurelius

It is this humbling of the ego that allows us the insight that there is more to the world than our subjective experience: when we can see the pain that exists equally in others we are afforded a far more empathic perspective of what it means to truly suffer. 

Without this humility, the ego keeps us in a stranglehold of personal suffering at the cost to all and anybody else.

The ego keeps us apart from the world, rather than a part of the world.

How does ego separate us?

The ego is driven by fear, and its main goal is to keep you alive. But as fear is its main driver, it is all too easy to fall into cycles of anxiety and depression when heeding its call. When negative emotions guide our behaviour, we are destined to meet tragedy. 

Ego wants us to martyr ourselves (“Nobody understands me!”), it wants us to push people away (“I don’t need anybody!”) and it wants to feel that it is righteous (“Everybody else is an idiot! Why can’t they see things my way?!”) It creates the very defences that will stop you from growing and healing. 

We live in a society that rewards aggression, confrontation and the single-minded pursuit of material gain. We can all be tempted by the rewards that can bring. But this is the trap that exacerbates the further need to continuously attend to the ego’s destructive appetite.    

As the ego strives to elevate us, it will isolate us further. This is why accepting “the interconnected of all things” brings us back to a place of humility and connection.

If you light a lamp for someone else it will also brighten your path.

- Buddha

The I Ching (Book of Changes) is an ancient Chinese divination guide that warns of the ego’s temptations. In the chapter Wu Wang (Innocence) we are advised to remain impeccable. 

From the Brian Robert Brown translation;

“The nature of the ego is that when we exercise it, it takes us out of the present. When we engage in ambition, anxieties, or anticipations, our ego is skipping ahead {...} When we engage in anger, judgement, and condemnation – whether toward ourselves or others – our ego is looking backwards {...} Only by stilling the geo and accepting life in its entirety can we become innocent. In this state, we are receptive to the help of the Higher Power and can meet with good fortune wherever we go.” 

This is why it is so important not to let our ego tear us from others.

The ego is silenced when it can identify with the pain it shares with others

Sometimes it feels easier to retreat and adopt the mantle of the bitter recluse, but it is here that hatred can find its most fertile roots: think of the misdirected anger of the misogynist; the searing hatred of the homophobe; the “othering” of the bigot. 

AsJames Baldwin so succinctly put it:

“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”

By separating ourselves from others we do not become stronger: we become ignorant; ignorance breeds fear; fear breeds prejudice and prejudice begets hate.

A mistrusting or damaged ego may use hate to reinforce itself; it wants to feel superior to others and the illusion of disconnection provides it with a quick-and-dirty shortcut to ego integrity.

But when humility placates the ego and we accept that we are all connected, it is our differences that can actually unite us rather than divide.

Lao Tzu wrote in the Tao Te Ching that our enemies are often the shadows that we ourselves cast into the world. That is what Sympatheia is ultimately about: We are not to fear and hate each other; we are to open up, teach and learn from each other, because in so doing we fundamentally heal one another.

So how does connection defeat depression?

Depression takes a lot of things away from us – but it can never take away your place in the world.

In moments of helpless rumination, we forget what we truly have to offer.

The gifts we bring into the world are our way of reconnecting. We cannot feel isolated and depressed at the same time. Connection reminds us we are never truly alone.

Hypnotherapy can be used as a gentle way of guiding oneself back to the positive resources that we often forget lie within us. Using hypnosis, a trained professional can help reframe negative beliefs and give you clarity over how you can best use your gifts. Without the fog of depression, how much clearer would it be to see your true value?

Connection doesn’t need to come from outside. Think how a certain piece of music or art has articulated a certain feeling at some point in the past and given you those moments of feeling and belonging. 

Those feelings of connection exist within us all – and we can connect to them whenever we want. Even by your own caring actions, you can bring moments of unity into the lives of complete strangers. That is your power. Don’t lose it.

If you'd like to watch a video version of this article, please visit my YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/Gvfw6qOg-uU

Hypnotherapy Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Northwood, Hertfordshire, HA6 1BJ

Written by Adrian Jackson - Specialist in Anxiety & Depression (DipCHyp, CNHC (Acc), HPD)

Northwood, Hertfordshire, HA6 1BJ

I am a Cognitive Hypnotherapist in Northwood, in the North West of London.

My flexible, modern approach helps clients relieve unwanted patterns of behaviour, often underpinned by depression & anxiety.

I’m always available for a free private chat about how I may best help: 0208 798 0992

Very best regards,

-Adrian

www.adrianjacksontherapy.com

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