Many years ago, I took a step back from touring. I needed perspective. I wanted to deepen my approach to my music career and my songwriting.
I took workshops and got lots of mentoring. I tried to get clear about why I was doing music at all. I wanted to uncover my deepest motivations. Mostly I wanted to be free of my ego and do nothing in my life that was motivated by fear or neediness.
But there was this one slight problem.
I couldn’t get rid of the fear or the neediness. I couldn’t get rid of the ego stuff.
I explored the deepest parts of myself and found that, indeed, I had some beautiful intentions when I began my music career. I wanted to inspire people. I wanted to encourage and heal people. I wanted people to feel uplifted the way I felt uplifted when I left certain concerts.
But along side of that stuff, I also had these really embarrassing prom-queen-like motivations. They said things like, “Screw healing! I want approval!” It was clear that these voices were every bit as much a part of my motivation as my more noble intentions.
So, I told myself that I wasn’t going to do music anymore until those needy, smarmy, prom-queen, ego voices went away forever.
I find this hysterically funny now. So, I imagine, did my mentor at the time.
Recently, I’ve received several emails from women who are watching Eckhart and Oprah every week. They are concerned that they shouldn’t be setting intentions or having dreams because they notice that they can’t get their egos out of these intentions and dreams.
I tell them the very thing I discovered for myself…
You don’t have to.
When I finally did decide to go forward with my music, I allowed for both parts of me to go along for the ride. My noble wise self with her beautiful deep intentions. And my needy, grasping, approval-seeking self who wanted spotlights, applause and to get back at anyone who ever hurt her. The two could live side by side.
As I moved forward, I allowed my career to teach me how to live in the deeper self more often, creating lighter and better directions for me. I also let my needy self teach me how to expand beyond those old patterns and fears, and how to accept them when they arose. To say it wasn’t always easy is a giant understatement.
Sometimes taking action is the very thing that can help all that ego stuff burn away slowly. If you can stay present and watch yourself make choices and take actions with a clear awareness of what fuels you, then you’ll keep on growing and learning. Sitting and waiting for enlightenment is, in my humble opinion, a limiting option.
I thought I could do this. I thought I could wait for a more enlightened version of myself to show up before I did anything else ever again. Mostly I was desperate. I wanted to never feel pain again, and enlightenment felt like a good way out – sort of like a spiritual martini.
Experience has taught me to relish the path and take action anyway. It has taught me that spiritual perfectionism is every bit as insane as my old eating disorder perfectionism. The action I’ve taken, in spite of ego, has made all the difference. Those ego voices are only a tiny part of my life now. They show up on occasion and have lots to say, but I don’t try to get rid of them.