Categories: Gettin The Mind Right

The Downside of Self Improvement

Happy Monday!

Oftentimes we meet a shadow on the very path we took to avoid it.


We work out to be healthy but we are so hard on ourselves. If we can’t execute a movement as we’d like to or if we miss a workout all together, we get upset and annoyed.


We fast so that we can burn fat. Yet sometimes the effort to sustain the fast increases our cortisol levels, which contribute to us storing fat rather than burning it.


We do our best to eat clean so we can feel good, but then let the number on the scale derail us.


The yoga world has a concept called the “spiritual ego”. The spiritual ego is the veil of individual personality that prevents you from having a universal existence. This is the most dangerous type of ego because it hides behind “good intentions.” It slowly builds without us knowing.


At first, any effort we take towards a goal is perceived as good. It’s easy to feel good about your initial efforts towards any goal because at the start of any particular journey, there’s an immense amount of progress to be made.


But as we inch forward day by day, the spiritual ego sneaks up on us. We stop acknowledging what we once thought of as progress and “enough”. Without realizing it, we compare what we do to an impossible standard put forth by the ego, where nothing is good enough and we need to do more.


The spiritual ego is obvious in the yoga world. It’s that guy who:

  • Talks about how spiritual he is
  • Looks down upon people who do not practice spirituality to the degree he does
  • Believes he has a deeper connection to the divine (and lets you know about it!)
  • Puts a lot of effort into looking and sounding like a “spiritual” person.


For those who just want to be healthy, the impact of the spiritual ego is less pronounced. It’s a slow drip that very subtly messes with your mind–until all of a sudden the bucket is full and nothing you do seems to be good enough any more.


The Antidote is Self Forgiveness

To subdue the spiritual ego, you must recognize that on every journey, the only expectation worth having is to do your best with what you have on each given day. It means that you practice humility, openness, and work to be honest with yourself. Anything beyond that will cripple you with frustration. It is the constant practice of letting go of your humanness and allowing yourself to be imperfect without judgement.


I notice my spiritual ego pops up with my Vedic meditation practice. The practice calls for two meditations per day, for 20 minutes each: the first when you wake and the second any time during the day BUT at least 90 minutes removed from eating, drinking caffeine, and before consuming alcohol.


The second meditation is the hardest for me to get in as sometimes I am so busy with everything that I end up doing it at the end of the day when I just want to relax, have dinner and hang out with my wife and dog.


One thing I’ve learned through this practice is that if you do not commit, you will not get the results–so I am all in. That said, I’ve learned that if I meditate only because I feel I must, then it defeats the purpose altogether.


Here’s the biggest take away: typically the spiritual ego makes us feel like we have to do things perfectly. But what if the real win is committing to the practice while knowing that you will be imperfect–and that it’s okay?


What if the awareness of how you feel in that moment—fully conscious of the propensity of the ego—and making a judgement-free decision for what is best for your health is enough?


What makes the journey difficult is that it’s a tough road and at every turn we are up against many outside forces. Those external factors pale in comparison to the hardest hurdle of them all, the ego…the illusion of self. We must best balance the fine line between letting go of what we cannot control and being indifferent.


Balance is something to work towards but know that it’s impossible to ever really know exactly what it looks like. The only way I know to improve my self awareness is to journal on thoughts, feelings and behaviors that bring me down. To clear my mind by physically writing it down and to ask questions. Where does this come from? What can I learn from it?


Don’t be so hard on yourself. The better world we all seek comes from each of us simply doing our best each day to be healthier inside & out.


Joe Carabase is an Entrepreneur, Coach and Author. Check out his latest book here. You can follow @joecarabase on Instagram and Facebook for more inspiring content! 





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