Tuesday, March 10, 2009

How I got my ego shrunk

By emigrant standards I was a picture perfect of success.
I had an amazing career, a brand new car, my own condominium with all the latest electronic gadgets, a beautiful girlfriend, everything I ever dreamed of and more.

I always believed that I was in control of my actions and in control of my life therefore I always knew I would succeed.
There was no other way.

The thing that I found perplexing was not my success but the subsequent implosion and collapse.
Something unexpected happened: I started sabotaging my self.
An evil person inside me was taking over my life and I was out of control.
Who was this guy and why was he trying to destroy everything I had accomplished?

Things were getting worse every day.
I was always late for work. Never pay my bills in time. Late fees piled up to the point I wouldn’t even want to open my mail. I stopped answering my phone and I started secretly drinking. (Which was one of the things I hated most.)
I was in a free fall or better said, in a snow ball running out of control.
The worse I felt the more self destructive I got and the more self destructive I was, the worse I felt.

The saving grace was my American girlfriend.
One weekend she sowed up unannounced at my door.
I was unshaved; unbathed and my place looked like a pig stay.
She looked at me and gave me an ultimatum:
Take care of my problem or be on my own.
That was my wake up call.

I did not know what was wrong with me, so I stepped on my pride and I asked for her help.
She told me to seek professional help which I refused immediately.
Only crazy people go to see a shrink. (At least that was the concept on which I grew up.)
But she gave me no choice and so I ended up on the proverbial couch.

I hated going to my psychiatrist. It was all about my childhood memories.
Childhood was the best part of my life, but some how he was trying to convinced me otherwise.
I left him and tried another, then another and I would have quit trying but I couldn’t afford loosing my girlfriend. She was the only thing keeping me from total collapse.

One positive thing came out of my sessions. I felt more comfortable talking about my problem – this time it even had a name “procrastination” (which doesn’t sound so bad) so one day while I was complaining about my new shrink, somebody recommended me a hypnotherapist he knew. I said why not, I had nothing to loose.

There are few encounters in my life with people that have influenced and shape my life and this hypnotherapist was one of them.
He was a Jewish guy that worked with emigrants from Eastern Europe mostly Russian Jews so from the very first moment we had a solid report.

He told me this story about the baby elephants.
When elephants are young they are tied with a heavy chain to a tree trunk. They try to get away but the chain is too heavy and the tree to strong. After a time the baby elephant stops trying. He has learned the chain can’t be broken. So he will never try to escape even when he is all grown up and could easily break the chain.

He asked me: “In communism how did you fight against the regime?”
I said I did not fight. It would have been suicidal.
The only thing I could do was to sabotage the system. I did as little as possible.
Or in psycho babble I was a “passive aggressive”
This was the way I was trained to react against a system that pushed me.

Remember my hair cut incident?
The way I showed my resentments against my new social restrictions was the same “passive aggressive” way to react.
I did not assert myself. Instead I sabotage everything, which now was my own life.

Any way, to make a long story short, after a couple of sobbing sessions (I know, I am not very proud of that) I ended up feeling much better and taking control of my life.
I also became very interested in the human subconscious and decided to be a hypnotherapist. So back to school I went!

PS: If any of you are having “procrastination” problems check up for some inflexible authority in your past, like a father, mother, coach etc.
Write a good assertive post about them. Make it as emotionally possible.
You can break the chain now.
I know I did it!


Psiplex said...

Very powerful - thank you for sharing this. My grandparents (both sets) came from Hungary and Slovenia last century. They too had a miserable time getting out with their lives against the communists. I remember they always sent care packages back to Hungary for those they knew and those they could help. Their struggle was on the side of love as it allowed them to use compassion instead of anger and bitterness.

The transformation that is taking place in you is a miracle. Your journey is your own and your love of the truth will bring you to where you need to be to help others. It's all good!

One Love

Mark said...

I am glad you decided to share this experience and I am glad that you found someone who you could connect with and who had an understanding of how your present behavior was related to your past. This is a powerful lesson and valuable to many.

LLnL said...

I am ready for an ego shrink. I have been to a head shrinker before. It felt good to talk but I don't think I was in therapy long enough to make any real difference. I like shrinking myself anyway, I have a head ups on knowledge about myself, and it is free.

Lovely girlfriend. I have never given anyone an ultimatum before. I would love to give myself a few. I know that there was a lot of procrastination and passivity in my life. I think that I started dragging my feet when I felt like my life was not going in the right direction. Instead of telling people no I wanted to prove that i was trusting them by going along with them without resistance. When you don't personally believe in that you start dragging your feet and instead of helping you slow them down with your heavy burdens.

I feel like I could type forever but I want to learn how to pack power into a few words like a good wise man.

Aggie said...

What a great girlfriend and a very careing person to make you see outside yourself enough to do something about it. We are all, to a lesser or larger degree, miss-shapen by our upbringing. We do not live in a well rounded world, so how can we expect well rounded people. The ones with courage and brains look for what is missing and start to cement in the gaps in their lives. Good for you.

Ted Bagley said...

Interesting how an action in one context can be called X and the same action in a seemingly context can be called not-X.

Barb said...

Still got the girlfriend and are you no longer procrastinating and drinking?

I know that I procrastinate --when I do --for simple fear of frustration that I expect to encounter in the dreaded tasks.

Seems we always look outside ourselves for a cause of our faults --when the Bible puts it this way --we have all fallen short of the glory of God --and are none righteous, no, not one.
We all need to be born of the Spirit into a relationship with our creator that was possible until people sinned --now we have to repent and come to the Father through His only begotten Son --countless people have found they are "new creatures in Christ" after seeking help from Him --the one with the Power over nature, sickness, blindness, lameness, and death --who could also predict the next day's events. Many have been transformed by faith in Jesus.

C. Om said...

Very relate-able stuff! At least from my perspective. I could never feel comfortable talking to a shrink. I mean I could feel comfortable, but it would do me no good!

Somehow I always knew the answers would come from within. not some out side source of knowledge.

Anyways, I love the story of awakening so far.


Lydia said...

I loved this post. Also, I had no idea that you are a hypnotherapist! It was a hypnotherapist who helped me to stop smoking (never had another cig after my session with him). I'm a big fan of the practice.

You hit the nail on the head for me when you talk about procrastination. It is definitely a problem of mine. I'd never thought of it as linked to an authority figure, but I will give this some due consideration.

Thanks, Buddha!

Talon said...

Thank you for being so open, Buddha. Lots of food for thought in this post.

Buddha said...

@ Psiplex – I don’t think I am any different than other people I just think my life is different.

@ Mark – My blog is part of my personal learning process.
I am sorting out my experiences to see what worked and what went wrong.
If somebody else finds my lessons useful to them, they are very wise as the wise learn from others mistakes.

@ LLnL – We all work out, diet and generally take care of our physical body.
I think taking care of our mind and soul should be as important.

@ Aggie – I have been very fortunate in my life to meet strong and intelligent people.

@ Ted – I am not sure what X means.

@ Barb – This is a 25 year old story. Now I am married with children. My drinking, smoking and fooling around years are over :)

@ COm – I totally understand you. Even writing these posts are tough for me.

@ Lydia. I am not anymore a therapist (I do it only for myself)
It is really hard to care about other people without burning yourself up.

@ Talon – I hope this will help other people as I help myself.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Hey - there's nothing to be ashamed of showing emotions.

This reminds me of my own negative experiences when i was very confused and contacted various people including The Samaritans. As the bloke i was speaking to went off the phone to find the information i wanted i distinctly heard him saying "another one of those f&&king wierdos"

Oddly enough this helped quite a bit - because it made me realise that i didn't give a shit about what he, or anyone else, thought about me as long as i could look at myself in the mirror.

Ted Bagley said...

In this post X was procrastination and __.
The action of procrastination in America was seen as unskillful whereas the same action reflected in the E Block was seen as survival. Here is the fantasy of more than surviving. there surviving is the fanatsy.
Maybe that's how wisdom and ignorance are not two. Or suffering and enlightenment. Or God and not-God.
You lived before in a society built supposedly not on God where the impression was that nothing was permitted and people acted as if God were watching your every move. You were able to act for yourself by leaving.
In America is the reflection. The inversion. Supposedly built on God yet everything is permitted until you do the wrong thing yet people seem to not leave. If you do the wrong thing a man comes down on you in the name of God whereas in the other society God comes down on you in the name of the Party.
Your death in the ultimatum is symbolic here, unless you were to really kill yourself, where it would have been real there instead, unless you left yourself.
Both societies won't "work" if the ego is in charge of the structure and playing out it's contradictions over and over again.
Just thoughts.

Buddha said...

@ Pixie – Well , I was raised under the doctrine that real men don’t cry, so I was quite uncomfortable to cry in front of a stranger. I am getting more and more immune to what other people think as I grow older, realizing the impermanence of the illusion is changing the perspective on my life.
@ ted – Ok now you are talking.!Yes the passive aggressive attitude has very much the feel of Gandhi’s non violent movement or the Zen non action philosophy. I guess I never thought of it that way :)

Liara Covert said...

To acknowledge ego at all gives it energy and recognizes it exists. Many tests are wrapped up in the process that is helping you attune more directly to love. As you gain perspective, you are also discarding thoughts and feelings you have outgrown. Thanks for sharing.

Brigit said...

Interesting insights. Thanks for letting us get to know about your life. I come from a German background. My parents and I came to Australia when I was 3. My father was extremely authoritarian. And I've turned procrastination into an art form when it comes to stuff I hate doing, or struggle with.