As someone with BPD, resilience is something I have a tenacious relationship with. I have recently been involved a bullying incident at work, something I find myself a target of on a regular basis. Anyway, this time I drew a line in the sand and said ‘no way, not this time’ and embarked on the formal journey for resolving the issue. One of the goals I wanted to achieve out of this was to break the cycle of being targeted by bullies, which got me thinking about resilience in all sorts of different ways. Clearly I need to develop my resilience as part of my quest. If I have stronger resilience skills, then surely I am going to be less susceptible to, and less affected by, poor behavior directed at me right?
A few years ago I remember reading Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now. At the time it resonated with me and I invested a lot of time into understanding my ego. I had vague recollections of feeling much more in charge of my life and my self during this time so I dug out my old copy and started reading it again. This time though, I was interested in trying to work out if my lack of resilience could be equated with an out of control ego. I get that the problems that come with BPD are complex and cross-referenced across multiple factors, but I got to thinking that if I was on the right track and managed to make just a 20% improvement, then it was going to make things a whole lot better for me.
I have chosen to interpret Tolle’s definition of ego as something along the lines of: a separate being within us with a strong survival instinct. a being that identifies with the past and the future, who casts it’s beliefs and opinions over both with no regard for fact, preferring to live within the confines of its interpretations. and definitely does not like to be wrong under any circumstances, searching for proof always of how right it is, regardless of the limitations it may place on us.
In The Power of Now, Tolle says, “The pain that you create now is always some form of non-acceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is. On the level of thought, the resistance is some form of judgment. On the emotional level, it is some form of negativity. The intensity of the pain depends on the degree of resistance to the present moment, and this in turn depends on how strongly you are identified with your mind. The mind always seeks to deny the Now and to escape from it. In other words, the more you are identified with your mind, the more you suffer. Or you may put it like this: the more you are able to honor and accept the Now, the more you are free of pain, of suffering – and free of the egoic mind. Why does the mind habitually deny or resist the Now? Because it cannot function and remain in control without time, which is past and future, so it perceives the timeless Now as threatening. Time and mind are in fact inseparable.”
One of my thoughts on this was, if I believe that I am unable to deal with confrontation, then my ego, who doesn’t like to be wrong don’t forget, will constantly seek proof of that belief. Therefore my ego will cast back into the past for examples of when I didn’t handle confrontation well and project that onto some imagined scenario in the future, complete with accompanying feelings and emotions of pain and failure. Consequently when I find myself in a position of real or potential confrontation I am immediately feeling the ‘example’ my ego has provided for me and perversely proving it right. The reality is that the confrontation in question is NOW and everything that is happening NOW is perfect, so how can my ego predict the outcome? It can’t of course, but due to it’s strong survival instinct it will fight me every step of the way when I dare suggest a different outcome is possible.
By not spending time addressing and understanding my ego, or developing my ability to remain present, I am therefore trapped in a reality of little or no resilience. See how I made the leap there? Is there a relationship between resilience and ego?