Work, Money & the Ego

Yesterday, I posted about living on purpose, a concept I know many of of us struggle with. Through my own journey of personal growth; it’s a topic I’ve become tremendously passionate about. But passion and learning have not omitted me from struggling with the concept. It’s easy to become distracted or discouraged. Shiny opportunities show up and I’m tempted to detour, things don’t work out as quickly or as cleanly as I’d like, other’s opinions and judgements make me feel discouraged or question my path and capabilities. This uncertainty is all the work of the ego - the loud, opinionated, fearful part of the mind that would convince us it’s necessary to follow the path of fear and struggle. Recently, I’ve been presented with multiple opportunities for growth when it comes to work and money. While some are easy to interpret and figure out, others are challenging to the ego and require a lot of reflection and contemplation.

I’ve watched friends, romantic partners, and colleagues alike all struggle with similar lessons when it comes to work and money. It can be difficult to discern ego from truth or distraction from opportunity. We’ve become so accustomed to the voice of the ego guiding our every move, that it makes us uneasy to even acknowledge we’ve been acting through the perception of the ego; as opposed to the perception of our inner-guide...there’s a big difference.

The ego is, in simplest form, an imposter self. It is a thought system that resides in our psyche and fights to keep its place there. The ego would convince us that happiness can be achieved through external means and that we must maintain total control to keep us safe. The ego thrives on fear and uncertainty, for without these uneasy feelings, its entire presence would be threatened.  

Marianne Williamson describes the ego’s motives like this, “Ego says, ‘Once everything falls into place, I’ll feel peace.’ Spirit says, ‘Find your peace, and then everything will fall into place.’”

Recently, I’ve had optimal learning opportunities to identify where I’m reacting from the ego when it comes to work or money and to acknowledge and reframe my thoughts. Disclaimer: it has been extremely difficult to articulate to others what I believe in this area without feeling as though I was coming off lazy or as if I was suggesting we all sit back and expect new opportunities and money to just show up. You have to work, and you have to work hard. The heart of the lesson here is that when you make decisions from ego, rather than spirit, the path is often more difficult than it has to be.

However, I assume that, if you are reading this, you also have a desire to find a deeper level of fulfillment and purpose in the work you do. I assume that you, too, hope to identify how the ego has influenced how you think, feel, and act when it comes to work and money. I hope that sharing my own experiences with how I’ve grown in these areas when listening to spirit (as well as how I’ve been challenged to listen to and respond with ego) will serve you in some way:

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Work. I’ve always taken great pride in my work. I have high standards for myself and find great reward in doing work I receive recognition for. I know that I have capabilities and talents that could lead me down many paths. However, as I continue to connect more deeply with my inner-guide, I also know that I have a purpose that is greater than what I can fulfill at most traditional jobs. So, with that, I stay open to possibility and allow the Universe guide me to the path I need to be on. I know with complete certainty that I was guided to my current 9-5 position for an important reason. And, though there are mundane qualities in any job, I remind myself to focus on what I can bring to and learn from this experience.

My ego mind does do its best to distract me, dangling carrots and opportunities which boost my external worth, but do not align with my long-term purpose. The ego tells me that my current work is not important enough or that it doesn’t use my best skills. The ego encourages me to pursue other big opportunities. Likewise, the ego tempts me with many small opportunities which offer a boost to my self-importance. Many of these smaller opportunities are aligned with my core purpose, but I also must be cognizant that accepting too many small opportunities will take up tremendous amounts of time. Finally, the ego’s worst nasty trick is when it begins to place it’s own judgements on my purpose-driven goals. It would seek to degrade the importance and possibility of these goals, saying, “Who are you to pursue this? You are not smart enough, motivated enough, or capable enough.” The ego is an expert at placing these tiny mad ideas with the purpose of discouraging and distracting.  

Ultimately, I look to the roles I’ve held and currently hold as important preparation for the work I will do in the future, I remind myself frequently to stay on purpose and focus on long-term goals. When a carrot is dangled or my ego suggests that I need to grasp on tightly to a specific outcome, it’s incredibly difficult to resist the thoughts. In these times, I’m tempted to evaluate my self-worth, capabilities, and purpose. This has been one of the areas where it is most difficult to distinguish ego versus inner voice. The most simple way I’ve found to discern the two is to ask if I’m being tempted by external validation and if the opportunity appears to flow with ease or not. My most synchronistic career opportunities have always presented themselves clearly and with such alignment that I need to do little to make it work.

Money. As someone who grew up believing that attracting abundance was a struggle, I am incredibly astounded with how much abundance can be attracted when I remove my ego blocks and get in the flow of receiving. I tried to describe recently how effortlessly money and other gifts came into my life when I was living in my most open energy. It’s difficult to make sense of (even as the person on the receiving end), because it makes little sense. Truly, there have been times in my life when checks just showed up. When I moved to Austin nearly three years ago, I was feeling tremendously grateful and open to possibility. By no coincidence, I attracted two, very unexpected sums of money (to be clear, I’m talking four- and five-figure sums, not just a little extra change). Recently, my attention was again drawn to being grateful and open to possibility. In no time, the Universe got to work, again bringing several large-figure sums with minimal initiation on my part.

It is our ego-generated resentments, limiting beliefs, and focus on money as an external indicator of our own worth and happiness that can cut off our flow to true abundance. These ego-generated beliefs reinforce that we must push, hustle, and grapple to bring money into our lives. The ego tells us this struggle is absolutely necessary. It is also the ego that encourages us to develop a material and mindless relationship with money, suggesting that the instant gratification of material things will satisfy something else in us which is lacking. The ego uses money and spending as a brilliant distraction to our own self-discovery. Why? Because self-discovery, growth, and recognition of our spirit mind is a direct threat to the ego.

In the past, I’ve let all of these ego-generated concepts influence me. When I did, money still came, but not as abundantly as when I release my ego-attachments to how I earned and spent money. Most recently, my ego was tested in this area when a friend offered feedback which reinforced limiting beliefs about money. This caused me to momentarily tie my worth to money and second-guess my ability to manifest and manage it mindfully. My first instinct was to react from ego. But, after taking time to contemplate and reflect, I found gratitude for the opportunity to focus on an area where I was not being mindful. Most importantly, my inner-guide directed me to be gentle and compassionate with myself and to react from a place of love. This gentle, compassionate reaction allowed me release any resentment I may have had about the situation and ultimately allowed me to stay in the flow of abundance, immediately attracting more, rather than repelling it by grasping with the intent of “proving” something to my ego.

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I’ll end with another quote from my teacher, Marianne Williamson,

“Your highest function is simply to be the person you are capable of being...As you become who you are meant to be, what you are meant to do will fall like a path of rose petals before you...Anxiety and struggle do not attract your good. Your job is simply to be to be; joyfully expressing your own inner worth, and the Universe will take care of you.”