The ego denies the existence of the ego, and the ego likes to find someone else to blame.

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I need anger and fear in order to enact change.

I have heard this so many times – even from myself – that it is mind-boggling. Activists, in particular, suffer from this type of ego trick, believing that the only way to create real change is to approach people from a place of anger. I’ve seen and heard a lot of vegans, religious missionaries and animal right’s activists in particular use guilt, shame and fear to try and convert people to a “better way of life.” However, this often just results in ego-fueled arguments, resentment, and worst of all, denial.

The reality is that anger breeds anger. War breeds war. But love breeds love. Peace breeds peace. And love, true love in my experience, is not an inactive state of sitting in your own drool; it is active, and comes from a place of understanding.

Who would you most likely take seriously? A person who calls you a “sinner” or a “selfish murderer” who is “unconscious, unethical, and the scum of the earth,” or someone who teaches you empathy, true understanding, and compassion for not only yourself, but for all of life?

I need to be “more spiritual” in order to be happier.

When you think of a spiritual person, what do you picture? Perhaps you think of a yogi, or an energy healer, or a psychic. Images of crystals, chakra cleansing or meditation might arise. And while all of these things are very useful and extremely beneficial, it is not actually necessary for us to “be a spiritual person” in order to find deep, abiding joy.

Why is this the case? Because the act of pursuing an image of spirituality takes away from the act purely experiencing Being. When we are constantly desiring and attempting to be something other than what we innately are, we create an immense dissatisfaction and rift in our lives. We constantly feel as though we are “almost there”; almost the epitome of spirituality, when all along we are chasing our tails in circles. In reality, what we have desired all along is already here beneath all the layers of our thoughts, beliefs, desires, conditionings and goals.

How can you know this for sure? Take a moment to stop what you are doing right now. Stop your searching, stop your running, stop your resistance to whatever is happening in your life in this very moment. Allow everything to be as it is. This doesn’t mean being a pushover or doormat; it means being smart and not fighting with reality. Stopping everything is the best way to experience the innate joy that has already existed beneath everything all along.

I need to suffer in order to find fulfillment.

This mindset is similar to the Martyr complex way of seeing life. While it is undeniable that suffering helps us to grow and learn, to think that suffering is a prerequisite to experiencing fulfillment is like thinking that you must chop off your finger in order to have a really great day.

The reality is that you don’t need to suffer to find fulfillment, although finding fulfillment is often a result of suffering.

Often we get extremely attached to our stories of righteous suffering. Why? Because they make us feel special and entitled. However, what we neglect to realize is that the ego is running the show here: you don’t need to be a martyr to experience the Soul. You don’t need anything but the cultivation of conscious presence, now.

That thing/that person is responsible for my suffering.

We are conditioned since birth to name, blame and shame. Essentially, pointing the finger at other people and situations for our misfortune and unhappiness is our heritage, and one we carry with immense burden.

Yes, your son might not be talking to you; yes, your partner might not be accepting your goals and dreams; yes, you might have been diagnosed with a terrible illness, but in and of themselves these people and events in your life are not responsible for your suffering. Your resistance to them is. Your desire for them to be anything other than what they are is.

Of course, this doesn’t mean giving up and letting people and situations walk all over you. It doesn’t mean not doing the best for yourself and making the very most of your life. But it does mean taking responsibility for your reactions, thoughts and feelings. It does mean accepting that your happiness is a direct reflection of your decisions.

I need THAT to give me THIS.

Here are some common examples:

I need lots of money to give me security. I need your love and acceptance in order to make me feel whole and complete. I need to lose this much weight in order to make me confident and sexy. I need to rebel against what they do in order to make me a better person. I need to be successful in order to feel fulfilled in life. I need to be likable in order to be acceptable.

Is this all true?

The reality is that nothing outside of yourself can genuinely give you what you can’t give yourself from the inside. This is because whatever is out of your control is subject to being destroyed or taken away from you within seconds.

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