Empowered Egos and True Humility: How We Become Addicted to our Suffering

Reactivity can be defined as the energy of “being against”. For as long as we are alive, it is extremely likely that we will each have our reactive moments. But how many of us are willing to consider that perhaps the entire structure of our self-identity is fueled by reactivity whether its energies are used to fight against others or ourselves?

For some of us, this might show up as “exclusive” identification with a particular group whether a sports club, religion, social movement, spiritual path, etc. Although we might feel empowered by these identifications and comforted by a sense of belonging to a particular group, we also pay a hefty price. Keep in mind that Hitler was a tremendously empowered and empowering human being.

At its existential core, our sense of self grasps at whatever it believes could provide some sense of comfort, security, purpose, meaning, and control. This seemingly natural and healthy response to life inevitably blocks us from everything else and we call this movement of attention “I”. The wall that defines us is also the wall that keeps us prisoner – isolated, in fear, and very often quite tired. Life as it is awaits our entry on the other side of this wall. Its invitation timeless, its embrace unconditional.

This seems like bad news, but it gets worse. Add to this mixture of misery some unhealed intergenerational trauma, some unconscious social conditioning, and some unmet developmental needs and it becomes very clear why we are never truly satisfied even when we do get what we want in life.

If this is all true, then why do we keep this going? Because we are too busy being against. We are too busy grasping heavily on feeling merely empowered instead of also at peace and open-hearted. Our sense of self is nothing more than a thought, a concept in the mind and a conditioned emotional response to life that is felt as extremely real on the body.

We are too busy thinking ourselves into existence, too busy running away from our pain, too busy denying our deepest fears. Too busy trying to survive instead of truly living.

Here we have a choice. We can pretend we are not deeply in pain, not feeling terribly alone, not constantly fighting our way through life. We can deny how terribly tiring this is and keep finding mere comfort and belonging in our identities and political or social groups.

Or we can choose the path of radical honesty, the path of freedom, inner peace, and transformation. We can open up to everything we have been avoiding since childhood and reclaim everything we’ve been busy projecting onto the world.

This is the path of the broken-hearted warrior. This is beyond mere ideology, mere fairness, and mere equality. This is the most precious gift we can give to ourselves and to others, the most potent agent of social reform and cultural progress.

This is the path of true humility.