As I prepare for the February 12 due date of my new book baby The Daily Flame: 365 Love Letters From Your Inner Pilot Light, I’m releasing a series of blogs intended to help you connect to this source of divinity within each of us. In “What Is Your Inner Pilot Light,” I shared with you just a bit of what is possible when you shift your center of gravity toward a life led by your Inner Pilot Light. In “The Most Common Reason You Can’t Sense Your Inner Pilot Light’s Guidance,” we talked about what interferes with most people’s connections to this reliable, trustworthy inner healer, mentor, companion, beloved, and guidance system, which I call your Inner Pilot Light. In “The Crucial First Step To Letting Your Inner Pilot Light Make Your Decisions,” I talked about one essential practice that will get you started on leading an Inner Pilot Light-led life.
Today we need to talk about something critically important. Examining how the mind learns to protect you (and how it gets in the way of your connection to your Inner Pilot Light) might give you insight into why you may feel disconnected. But if you demonize, bully, or try to exile the mind and all of its natural protection, you only add another layer of resistance to your capacity to connect to this soulful, loving, wise, inner Source.
Let me say this again because it’s absolutely essential—and it flies in the face of what many spiritual traditions teach.
The Paradox: Your mind/ego/parts interferes with your connection to the divine spark inside of you. But demonizing it only strengthens the resistance and further disconnects you.
The Solution: The most effective way to loosen the mind’s hold is to open your heart and love the parts that resist letting go and trusting that it’s safe to let your Inner Pilot Light take the lead.
Why Demonizing Your Mind/Ego/Parts Only Strengthens Your Resistance
Many spiritual traditions demonize the “monkey mind,” the ego, or your grasping desires and intense aversions, without realizing that the content your mind is communicating with you is an effort on behalf of protective parts in your psyche, trying to get your attention for a totally valid reason. If you become intimate with these parts and create ways to conference with them, they’ll relax, heal, learn to trust your Inner Pilot Light, and give you space for moments of rest, such as meditation.
Common spiritual teachings that demonize the mind/ego and are likely to make your parts even more resistant to relaxing include:
- Ignore your thoughts and let them float by when they distract you during meditation. (Your protector parts don’t like to be ignored!)
- Let go of all attachments and desires because they are the root of all suffering. (It’s inevitably human to attach to what you love and dislike what you don’t. It’s part of your discernment compass so to lose it would impair you greatly and put you at risk of potential abuse.)
- Your ego is what gets in the way of “enlightenment” and you need to get rid of it. (Your parts really don’t like it if you say you’re going to make them leave!)
- Your thoughts, emotions, and desires are all “maya,” or illusion, and only the Absolute is real. (Your parts think they are VERY real, and in your inner world, they are, so don’t insult them by calling them illusion.)
- Forgive and forget. (Your protectors do NOT want you to forget. Forgive when it’s time, yes. Forget, no.)
- Love others unconditionally, even if they hurt you. (Good God you can love them but don’t let self-centered people who use you and hurt you get too close! Your protectors will have an absolute fit! It’s their job to keep you from getting hurt!)
- If you don’t like how someone else is treating you, do the work on your thoughts to find out how you’re projecting onto the other. (Yes, projection is real. Take responsibility for your part. AND don’t take responsibility for what belongs to the irresponsible other.)
If you think of your ego, your mind, or your thoughts as young parts of you that think they’re trying to help, imagine how bewildering it is to those child parts when they’re crying for your attention and you’re trying to meditate them away, bully them into shutting up, denying that they exist, or overriding the impulses that keep you from getting repetitively hurt.
Sure, discipline is a valuable character trait. Learning to practice self-discipline can improve your life in a variety of ways, but not if you’re sugarcoating and glorifying self-bullying or self-demonizing in the name of “discipline.”
What most people call discipline is really a rejection of the traumatized, young parts of our psyches, which really need your care, compassion, and intimate understanding of how they got their often extreme roles when you were young. While demonizing or trying to silence these parts only strengthens them, what really works to get these parts to relax is to heal those inner child parts, rather than trying to whip them into shape like an abusive drill sergeant.
Demonizing the mind/ego or trying to harshly discipline your inner children can be counterproductive, creating even more resistance, slowing down your progress on the spiritual path and interrupting your psychological (and physical) healing journey. Instead, it can be more effective to soften into this new operating system, loving rather than demonizing the protective parts of our psyche which usually got their jobs worrying, planning, micromanaging, and trying to control life because of childhood trauma. Think of it like trying to earn the trust of a traumatized foster child. You wouldn’t just expect to harshly discipline the child and get good results. You’d have to slowly, gently, compassionately open yourself to getting to know that child, and over time, if you were faithful in your capacity to show up with a generous heart, that child might relax into trusting you.
Earning the trust of your ego/mind/protector parts so your Inner Pilot Light can take the lead is similar. You have to earn the trust of those parts that talk to you all the time. They’re not just trying to distract you from the spiritual path. They’re calling for your attention, trying to keep you from getting hurt, protecting you from potential danger, craving intimacy with you, hoping you’ll finally help them heal so they can stop their incessant chatter, allowing their natural gifts to shine through (their playfulness, their glee, their delight, and other childlike qualities that may have been exiled during the initial wounding).
You Are Made Of Many Parts
This might sound all well and good, but HOW, you ask? If simple mindfulness meditation or vipassana meditation isn’t the most effective answer to silencing the “monkey mind,” what can help you get some space from the polarized parts who are always arguing with each other inside your head?
We all have Inner Pilot Lights (or what Richard Schwartz, PhD, the founder of Internal Family Systems—IFS—calls “Self” with a capital S). Every single one of us has access to this inner compass, inner beloved, inner healer, inner mentor, inner therapist, inner muse . . . But most people can’t be obedient to the guidance of their Inner Pilot Lights because this divine spark is veiled by trauma. As much as we’d like to meditate our way past the trauma or bully the trauma into going away, you won’t be able to fully sense, trust, and obey the guidance of your Inner Pilot Light until you’ve cleared enough of the trauma to begin to sense it reliably.
Internal Family Systems (IFS)
In my next blog, I’m going to unpack a non-demonizing, Inner Pilot Light—enhancing trauma healing model I really resonate with, which can help you negotiate the needs of your inner children and protector parts, heal the parts that are really suffering, and potentially even get relief from chronic physical symptoms. (As a physician, I like to nerd out on data, so it fascinates me that this trauma healing model has been scientifically studied and proven to offer effective symptom relief in rheumatoid arthritis patients.) Stay tuned and make sure you’re on my mailing list (register here) if you want to make sure not to miss the next blog.
Loving you, your mind, your ego, and all your parts,
PS. Only 3 more days to qualify for the preorder bonuses if you order The Daily Flame book, which comes out February 12. If your Inner Pilot Light is saying YES! to this book, now is the time to order it. Check out the preorder goodies here.
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