Friday, November 16, 2007
This month I am addressing an issue that affects each one of us. It may be a little difficult to grasp and even harder to hear; but most people do not succeed at an undertaking merely because they can’t get out of their own way. I mean let’s look at diet strategy shall we? We all know to eat lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and keep an eye on portions, correct? We can make this as complicated as we wish or as easy to abide by as we think, yet we create a whole industry of complication out of something all of us know in our heads to be intuitively correct. So why don’t we simply just do it.
The answer for many of you may surprise you and it lies in the concept used in psychology called “The Infantile Ego”
If any of you have small children or if any of you just observe infant behaviour for a period of time you will see the definition of “Infantile Ego” It is characterized by impatient wants, loud protests, unrealistic expectations, (Hawkins 06) and most recently a need to develop “Victim status” An infant will confuse an immediate “want” with “need” and to the infant’s mind all needs are legitimate and tangible.
Infantile Ego wants and desires tend to lead to magnification and dramatization of meaningless issues. How many times have we heard a child cry “That’s not fair, or I never get anything!” We all recognize this quite readily in children. Here’s the thing. We all carry some aspect of the Infantile Ego in to our adult lives and consciousness as well. How we deal with it can remedy life long struggles and self image issues or perpetuate them. To many of you, even becoming aware of it at all will empower you to make changes for the better in realizing the power to change is inside you. It doesn’t lie in magic foods or supplements. That is the fantasy of the Infantile Ego.
Infantile Ego is not concerned with accountability and responsibility. Its main concern is immediate satisfaction for immediate wants or perceived needs.
The trouble with the Infantile Ego is in adulthood it masquerades as intelligent thought, and rationalization becomes huge within that process. People want to make issues exist on “deep levels” that allow one to satisfy infantile impulses without regard to truth or consequence. It truly is the difference between being mature, and thinking or acting mature. I often tell people in subtle or direct terms to “grow up” This can be a difficult thing to hear as the subconscious Infantile Ego, will do anything to protect itself, including self deception, and denial.
The fact is indeed that choices will determine consequences. When rationalization overrides mature thought, that can lead to impulsive behaviour like binge eating, skipping workouts, and basic results of immaturity of want confused with need, stemming from Infantile Ego going unaddressed and not seen for what it is. It is often an adult temper tantrum thrown in one’s head!
As an example I often get new clients who will write me and say, “Scott I have kids at home and there is junk food in the house all the time, how should I deal with that?” To many people writing me and many people reading this, it seems on the surface to be a valuable inquiry. My answer is, are you kidding me? You have a goal to lose fat and look good and feel better and you think this is a legitimate question. This is Infantile Ego looking after itself. Let’s couch the same infantile approach in similar situation. Say you have small children and tell them not to play with matches, because you see a propensity to do so. And they come back with the line, “But mommy, Johnnie and Jason’s parents both smoke, so there are matches and lighters around all the time.”
When we address infantile ego as children present it to us, we see it with ease. As adults we rationalize away thought that is based on a perception of lack, need or want. Some how we manage to bury immediate and long term consequences to such impulsive behaviour. Often times just a rational mature question to self as to a train of thought can weaken its demand. Just to acknowledge restriction, accountability, and responsibility is to reduce the effect of the Infantile Ego. It truly is all about growing up. (but in conscious recognition of it)
There is indeed freedom of choice. The ramifications however are that succumbing to Infantile Ego will lead to further impulsive behaviour with its negative consequences, vs. intelligent design which creates empowerment and allows a mature adult to “parent” his own Infantile Ego within his/her own consciousness.
There is a difference between craving, wanting, desiring, must have, and demanding in contrast to the options of preference, hoping for, wishing, choosing, favouring or accepting. These latter bunch of thought process that are more mature create empowerment. One can have a “preference” to eat more food or different food but “chooses” to stay on the diet, because one “favours” physique results over immediate gratification, and one “accepts” accountability in behaviour.
This creates mature behavioural choices vs. an Infantile Ego mentality of “craving” chocolate, or “wanting” pizza or “must have” popcorn at the movies. Thus it is easy to see that often Infantile Ego will run our own personal agendas if we do not address what we are thinking and why. Infantile Ego is also the reason so many people currently are in massive debt from living above their means, because they could not maturely address their “wants” in relation to their actual “needs”
In people’s consciousness there is a tendency to “act perfect” in thought, rather than being real in action. Emotional reasoning becomes a game of the immature mind wrestling with the Infantile Ego. We need to become much more objective about our own thoughts. This takes a willingness to grow up in real terms. The fact is emotional reactions are personally determined by one’s inner positionalities and belief systems. They are not “caused” from without or by being exposed to stimulus or new information.
So whether it is adhering to a diet or overcoming abuse, a mature mind makes the choice to abide toward pro-active not reactive design. Living in the past is indeed part of the Infantile Ego who wants to refuse to give up easy access to excuses and cues to rationalized behaviour with negative outcomes. But the solution is not to keep going back there and re-examine the past. Get over yourself. The quick and easy choice is to live now, and choose now. The future should never be held captive by the past, no matter if we are talking eating behaviour or overcoming profound tragedy. As the poet Marcel Proust chimed, “the only really voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”
It is of tremendous importance for empowerment to avoid negativity rather than trying to overcome it, or to oppose it. Recognizing it at all gives it energy and takes energy from you in order to generate thought toward it. This is wasted thought, and will have tremendous energy costs, emotionally, mentally and often physically.
Catering to the Infantile Ego will be like forever rolling a rock up a hill. You may indeed get further up the hill but only with the constant energy demand of “pushing, pushing, pushing” Being a slave to having to always employ “will power” and denial to achieve any given end is to live life without a sense of personal freedom. The rock gets bigger, and so does the hill. The consequences to such an approach is constant energy drain, more disconnections to recuperate, and feeling of “whether it is all worth it” So while succumbing to the impulsive demands of the Infantile Ego is alluring, it only creates more maturity debt. That maturity debt has devastating consequences to wellness and the feeling of accomplishment and freedom, and the sense of invigoration in meeting any challenge.
To understand real freedom, is to experience it. It is a mental and emotional, and spiritual experience. It means to have joy in the pursuit “of” desirable values, and freedom “from” the undesirable values. So there is self respect in “choosing” diet discipline, over the undesirable value of “feeling or being fat” The harsh reality is that the maturity level of one’s state of consciousness will determine the quality of experience, which is always personal.
It all begins within a mental state or thought process if you will. Parenting your own “Infantile Ego” will go a long way to personal empowerment. Personal empowerment creates joy in the undertaking of any task. The joy in task creates an ease of doing. This is the opposite of rolling a rock uphill. Awareness consciousness creates instead that snowball effect of rolling a snowball downhill. Think of the snow ball as personal empowerment. As it gathers proper momentum it not only moves itself but grows in what it encompasses. This is how to truly create achievement in your life. It is better always to succeed than to win.
There should always be joy in process. As I have said often many women come to me with attitude of self deprecation. “I hate myself for getting this fat” “I will be happy when I lose this weight” This is not true. Remember freedom that creates joy for self, begins with freedom from the undesirable. Hating oneself is the proverbial rolling the rock up the hill. As Jody Foster said recently in an interview; “Women tend to hate inwardly” I agree. This is no place to begin or to motivate oneself for any kind of achievement. And usually failure just from the sheer energy demand of rolling that rock up the hill will take over, and quitting is the end result. This still however is a consequence of choice. The idea is to not hate at all.
Resistance is Futile
Many of the old sci-fi alien invader movies had the aliens coining the phrase. “resistance is futile” I love that one. The same applies to the Infantile Ego. Duality of thought cannot be extinguished. It is far better to embrace it, than to try to deny it or resist it, or fight it. Only by embracing and acknowledging that which disempowers and disconnects us, are we now in a position to choose to change it. Remember we cannot change what we don’t acknowledge, and it is far better to avoid negative emotional content than to try to fight it. By acknowledging your Infantile Ego and addressing it, you will garner greater insight to it and how it manipulates you to behave in ways you know are self destructive that till now you could not understand why you couldn’t resist. Resistance is futile.
Adapting and maturing is to accept the Infantile Ego but to parent it. It is after all an “infant” in regard to awareness consciousness.
Maturity lies in the aspect of using vocational undertakings, like bodybuilding or athletics as a way to “express oneself” not “define oneself” The former is a mature approach that begins from self acknowledgment, the latter is a weaker undertaking from an immature self, seeking validation. It is a dangerous place to be.
As I have also said in the past, this is beyond “positive thinking” Positive thinking is just more mental masturbation. Even a parrot can repeat rational philosophy or words. But it doesn’t understand what it is saying. There must be a change in thought to a process of maturity. Once this maturity is emotionally accepted, it becomes the new reality. The Infantile Ego will be different for everyone. Dealing with it, will always be an individual self evaluation process. There is a reason the industry is called “Self-Help” because in the end, experts are only catalysts to you doing that very thing.
One thing that all spiritually evolved people would attest to is that one’s own awareness consciousness is THE decisive influence that determines all that occurs in one’s life. What you pay attention to expands. Pay attention to the Infantile Ego, and it will grow and manifest more wants, needs, etc. The consequence of this is actual mental and emotional discomfort as many of you know. Awareness consciousness maturity and parenting the Infantile Ego inside you leads to true enjoyment of indulgences and self acceptance, rather than guilt, and self-loathing. A little emotional, and mental homework each day, can pay huge dividends to your life in very short time. Remember, it’s not about the diet or the training program. They are only the means.
The reality is, was and always will be that “the power remains in the light, not in what is illuminated”
As usual some of you will get it, many of you will not. I welcome your comments in my Forums section
Posted Friday, November 16, 2007