Essay 5 Finding the light switch: My husband, the ego and imposters

The journey of finding our light is not an easy path. It’s a winding road that leads through difficult territory. It’s also the most worthwhile thing a person can ever do. This is a short story about the journey my husband and I were on in 2020, pulling together and finding our light.

Despite twenty-some years of doing Pathwork, my husband was still living large parts of his life and our relationship from his ego.
Despite twenty-some years of doing Pathwork, my husband was still living large parts of his life and our relationship from his ego.

Shortly after publishing Salty for my cousin, a new book of rewritten Pathwork Guide material came barreling through. It started with an urge to look more deeply into what the Guide had said about the ego. With this in mind, I rounded up four lectures with “ego” in the title (one had already been included in a previous book, Gems). Then I heard an inner call to search for lectures about consciousness.

As I scrolled through the list of hundreds of lectures, various titles jumped out at me. By the time I was done, I had 17 lectures in a queue to work with. For the next several weeks, I woke up very early and worked for 12-14 hours straight, rewriting the Guide’s teachings. The energy running through me was intense, and the messages unfolding through my fingers were remarkable.

This treasure trove of teachings reveals the importance of creating a firm connection with our inner divine self, or Higher Self. For the journey of a human being—the journey that all the lectures from the Pathwork Guide are pointing to—is exactly that. It’s about waking up from the domain of the ego and establishing a firm connection with our inner source.

We must transition from being lost in the illusion of duality to maturely living in unity. This is neither trivial nor easy to do. It requires us to surface and transform all the parts of ourselves that are blocking our light. This, in fact, is specifically what the bulk of Pathwork teachings guide us in doing. Then we must actively work to let go of our ego and align with God’s will.

Slow and steady progress

Self-development happens slowly and gradually.

What I can see, in hindsight, is that despite how much farther I have personally developed over this past decade, I was well underway in connecting with my Higher Self back in 2013 when I dove into this task of making these teachings easier for others to access. In fact, it was only by listening intently to the intuitive guidance I was receiving that I had the impetus and confidence needed to: leave my corporate career, sell my house, move far away and start writing these books on a full-time basis.

My intuition guided me to live off my savings and develop a level of trust I hadn’t known was even possible before. It also led me to meet a wonderful man, Scott, and move to a remote part of New York state. Here, we would keep growing and healing together, and create a beautiful new life.

This process—transitioning from an ego-centric life to centering ourselves in something greater—is long and it is arduous. It involves a lot of personal healing work and requires tremendous tenacity. As the Guide says over and over, self-development happens slowly and gradually. Awakening, then, is not a one-time event.

We are all somewhere on such a healing spectrum. And wherever we are in our journey, our ego has an active role to play. It’s really just a question of where our ego is getting its direction from. Is it from itself or from a greater place within?

This leads me to share an important piece of work that has been unfolding with Scott and me. I am sharing this story with Scott’s full permission and involvement as it may have value in helping others. This is the same reason we both chose to share our personal healing experiences in Doing the Work. Our desire and intention is to be of service in furthering the Guide’s teachings so they can help other people heal and grow, the same way they help us.

So there I was, nearing completion of After the Ego. As I was steeping in the rich lessons of this book, I came to this clear understanding: That despite his twenty-some years of doing Pathwork and practicing a number of other healing modalities—for real, he has been doing the work, not doing spiritual bypass—he was still living large parts of his life and our relationship from his ego.

The ego can do great things

By way of background, let me share a few things about Scott. He has an intelligence that runs extremely deep. When he understands something, it is solid. In college, he didn’t just memorize complicated equations for the test, like some of us. Case in point, thirty years later the man can still use calculus. Suffice it say, his ego mind has served him well in the fields of aerospace engineering and power generation. What’s more, he has a highly developed ability to read people’s energy and the interactions of energies in a room. More than once he has sensed I was upset before I was fully aware of it myself.

Such qualities are certainly part of what I love about him. But these things are not his Higher Self. And so, while his inner light shines through in many ways, and while he has greater self-awareness than a lot of people, his ego was still basically running the show in many areas. I shared with him what I was noticing and frankly, this was a bitter pill to swallow.

After a few days to process this, I shared another difficult truth with him. Not only was he largely operating his life from his ego, his ego was dropping the ball in doing a big part of the job it’s intended for.

The role of the ego

In Spilling the Script, I summarized the role of the ego like this. “It is the part of us that thinks, acts, decides, memorizes, learns, repeats, copies, remembers, sorts out, selects, and moves inward or outward. In short, the ego is really good at taking things in, straightening them up and spitting them back out. What the ego can’t do is add deep meaning to life or produce creative solutions, as it has no profound wisdom of its own.”

Using the various tools in its kit, the ego plays the important role of self-observer. To do this, it must learn to identify our many inner voices. Then, as we develop and grow, we can make new choices about which part we are identifying with.

The ego plays the important role of self-observer.

In broad strokes, our work is to transition away from identifying with our Lower Self. This is the part that is fearful, destructive, stuck in old trauma patterns, and not aligned with truth. And we must start identifying with our Higher Self. This is the part that holds our wisdom, courage and love, and fully aligns with truth.

It’s our ego that shifts our identification, and it does so by first seeing what the current inner situation is. In short, we must dismantle our defenses so we can begin to understand how our Lower Self operates. The ego then leads the effort to clean our inner house of any light-blocking obstacles.

The ego’s next job is to surrender and let go into the light—our inner light. In reality, the process isn’t quite this linear. After all, the work of clearing away Lower Self obstacles is always an act of our Higher Self. Nonetheless, it’s the ego that makes this transformation by the Higher Self possible.

What living from the ego looks Llike

In an effort to illuminate what I’m talking about when I say “Scott was living from his ego,” let me share an example. First, a little history. Years ago, I was trained over the course of five-plus years of study to become a Pathwork Helper. This was after roughly five years of being a Pathwork Worker, because a key requirement was to first rigorously apply the Guide’s teachings to myself.

For to be an effective Helper—to help someone else do their healing work—we must be able to tap into our own Higher Self. Then, by listening inside, we follow the guidance flowing from within to navigate the healing process. To do this, we will need to have cleared enough of our own inner obstacles. And we will need to have learned to surrender our own ego to align with our own Higher Self. A person simply cannot be very effective in helping others apply the Pathwork Guide’s teachings if we’re still operating mainly from our ego.

One way I have practiced tapping my own inner divine guidance is by learning to tell when a project is ripe, and then sensing how to proceed. This is something I did while working in marketing communications, which is a career comprised mainly from a long list of small tasks. And I also did this during a home-makeover project in Atlanta, shortly after graduating from Pathwork Helpership training.

Jumping back to the year 2020, in January, Scott and I embarked on a home improvement project that was fairly extensive. We had finished the first two phases over the winter and spring, saving the remodeling of our entryway for warmer weather. More importantly, whereas I had been filled with guidance over the winter for the various parts we were working on, I hadn’t received a single idea for how to proceed on the entryway. And so we waited until that project became more ripe.

Creativity flows from the Higher Self

With other projects finally complete, ideas started to bubble up for the next home-improvement phase: our new entryway. Scott and I began talking about what we wanted, and I started feeling the familiar flow of creativity. But as I was collecting ideas for things to consider, Scott was busy raising concerns and creating hurdles.

It’s not that he shouldn’t have been contributing suggestions or asking questions. But it seemed his “guidance” wasn’t jibing with mine. Instead of fleshing out, adjusting or building on the ideas I was bringing forward—which we were essentially in agreement on—he was mostly throwing out obstacles and roadblocks. This was both confusing and frustrating.

One of the teachings in After the Ego is that our Higher Self is never in conflict with the Higher Self of another. But on the level of the ego, there will often be discord. This is the reason we need to have courage to do our own healing work. For when we follow our own inner guidance, we may run smack into the face of someone else’s ego. In developing our entryway plans, Scott and I were bumping up against each other a lot.

Letting go looks like “I don’t know”

Further, as noted in that definition of the ego from Spilling the Script, the ego is not equipped to bring forward creative solutions. This doesn’t mean the ego can’t solve a problem, but it can only deal with known formulas. It simply doesn’t have the depth to allow for original, creative problem solving. It’s our greater being that provides a conduit to universal forces where the possibilities are truly infinite.

I marvel at the enormity of my ego’s ability to hang out in “I don’t know.”

Does that mean, since I was following guidance and Scott seemingly was not, I’m saying I was right? Here’s where this gets tricky. Over the last five years, since quitting my day job and selling my house, I’ve often referenced an old saying, “In for a penny, in for a pound.” Meaning, once I let go and left Atlanta, I had to keep paying out more and more rope from my ego in order to follow my intuition. For my ego was not in the lead.

I continue to marvel at the enormity of my ego’s ability to let go and hang out in the space of “I don’t know.” As in, I don’t know where my life is heading, I don’t know if I will run out of money, I don’t know if these books will ever find an audience, I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know.

Yet it’s within the spaciousness of my “I don’t know” that I listen within. My open mind allows me to hear more clearly. And over time I’ve developed a quite reliable channel to my inner knowing. I can tell when something feels right.

That said, our intuition will never be a fence we can lean on. We need to always be checking out our inner guidance and fine-tuning it using our ego. But our inner guidance will never lead us to self-righteousness. Because it can only surface through the relaxation of our ego mind. Further, whereas the limited ego thrives on rules and rigidity, our greater self is fluid, agile and adaptable. It doesn’t fixate on only one right answer, since it’s tapping into an infinite resource.

So, no, I wasn’t demanding to be right. I was trying to understand: Why aren’t our ideas flowing together?

Creating an open avenue for imposters

So I shared what I was seeing with Scott. Namely, that he was operating mostly out of his ego instead of tuning in to his Higher Self. But he didn’t just open up and hear the truth of this. Instead, as happens so often in life, he deflected what I was saying into the defensive inner wall he had long ago built to protect himself.

To be fair, Scott came by this wall honestly. Briefly, his mother died the spring of the year he turned 12, after a multi-year battle with leukemia. During the years of her illness, no one spoke with him about what was happening—that she was ill and would likely die—even as a depressing pall hung over their house.

To be fair, Scott came by this wall honestly.

At the end of that same year, his father married a woman Scott had barely met. And nine months later a new baby sibling came along. To accommodate this growing family of seven—which included Scott’s sister and two step-siblings—his parents built a bigger house. But since it was just across the district line, this meant he also had to change schools.

The integration of all this was brutal, especially with no resources to help him process the shock of the trauma. On the family front, things continued to go downhill for him, from there. It’s no wonder he put up thick inner walls to defend against all that pain. And yet, as it goes for everyone, such protective walls later turn into a magnet for inviting more pain.

In this situation, by deflecting what I was saying—the awareness that his ego was preventing him from becoming his best self—he created an opening for spiritual imposters to access his psyche.

What are imposters?

Imposters belong to the legions of dark forces that come to tempt us into aligning with our Lower Self. In the Lord’s Prayer, we are asking for help in the face of these temptations. Our goal is to learn to make better choices—choices aligning with the light. Ever since the time of Jesus—following Christ’s victory in the war with the dark forces after Jesus Christ died—spiritual laws have been in place that essentially limit their range.

In short, over the last two thousand years, dark forces have only been allowed to tempt us to whatever extent we still have faults. In other words, if we don’t do our personal healing work to transform our Lower Self, we will attract dark forces. And the agenda of dark forces is always to keep us from living from our inner light.

But unlike “normal” dark spirits, imposters have a different agenda. They tempt us, but they want to also teach us. The way they do this is by encouraging us to go down obviously wrong paths. They can sound convincing, but they aren’t leading us anywhere that’s good. Ideally, the rather absurd choices we make in following imposters will help us wake up. We will hopefully realize we are going the wrong way and thereby correct ourselves.

Imposters, then, are essentially teachers who are coming to help us see something important. They operate by whispering bad ideas into our inner ear. And if we are not connected deeply within, we will mistakenly believe these voices are coming from our conscience, or Higher Self.

For when we are living from our ego and are not in connection with our inner divine self, we can’t tell where these voices are coming from. We can’t sense if they are from our truthful essence or not. Remember, the ego doesn’t have truth-teller as part of its job description.

To be clear, imposters can’t inspire us to do something against our will. But they can find our faults and leverage them, enticing us to use our own will to act against our own best interest. For instance, one way Scott started to be influenced by imposters was by making jokes or comments that really weren’t funny. “That’s not who I want to be,” he later said.

If we trace Scott’s story back a bit, we’ll find an influential family member who enjoyed practical jokes, which Scott also engaged in when he was younger. One can see the origin in this lifetime of twisted wiring around humor mixed with cruelty, and the unhealed fault line that remains. It was into this crack that the imposters slid.

Nothing stays hidden forever

During this same winter-to-summer timeframe, Scott had been dealing with a frozen shoulder following a torn-tendon injury. I had been encouraging him to explore what was really frozen. What is being out-pictured here?

It was becoming clear to me that his habitual identification with his ego had become so frozen he literally couldn’t see it. Regardless of his remarkable intelligence and his ability to sense energetic patterns in himself and others, he was blind to this.

I have witnessed Scott’s incredible devotion to doing his spiritual healing work. He has been digging deep for decades to clear away the kind of obstacles that prevent a person from transitioning from their ego to their Higher Self.

Now he essentially needed to go inside and find the light switch—to turn on the light. The problem was, his ego was so in command of his life, he didn’t even know there was an inner switch. And he had no idea where to find it.

One place he started looking was by examining his expectations. Through daily review, he would simply notice how each day had gone. Where were there bumps? And did they happen to match his expectation of what would happen? We need to stop using the challenging experiences in life as confirmation that our expectations were right.

Instead, we can begin to notice the way our ego has set us up for struggle through its tightly held expectations. This is how things should go or will go. Then we create from this belief. Such an approach does not leave any room for fresh ideas, or for things to unfold with divine timing. This is a switch we can learn to pay attention to.

Eventually, through his persistent work on his spiritual path, Scott’s plugged-up inner portal to the divine began thawing and opening. Correspondingly, mobility in his shoulder was being restored.

We can learn from ourselves

Keep in mind, this journey from the ego to the deeper self is gradual. Plus, we are often uneven in our development. Unfortunately, such unevenness is very hard on our psyche. Truly, it can tear a person apart. To heal, we must keep surrendering and shifting our identification, practicing this persistently in all areas of our lives. Some open more easily than others.

For example, Scott does the cooking in our house. And he consistently does so from an ego that is surrendered and listening to his Higher Self. He feels into the meal as it almost assembles itself, rarely from a recipe. So he knows what that feels like. And there are places professionally where his Higher Self shines through, particularly in working with teams. That too is a familiar flow of the divine.

If we are connected with our greater being we will know when we are being visited by an imposter.

Although Scott’s light was already shining through in many ways, his Higher Self was calling him to take this next big step. This is why imposters started appearing. They are performing a valuable service and are very good at what they do. Imposters find a way to inspire us using just enough truth to get us to bite the hook. But their messages are not fully aligned with truth. Their intention is to help us see this.

If we are connected with our greater being, we will know when we are being visited by an imposter. Without that inner connection, our ego will fall for their tricks and we will be the ones looking foolish. Worse yet, when we are over-identified with our ego, all our questioning about “What is the truth?” will only lead to more questions. We will never find peace if our ego has us running in such circles.

Further, if we are trapped in our ego—unable or unwilling to let go into the arms of our own inner divine self—our ego will find false ways to let go. Addictions are a prime example of this. Whatever our ego uses to distract itself—in a misguided attempt to avoid uncomfortable feelings associated with old unhealed wounds—will always bring us more heartache in the long run. Moreover, these ploys can never bring us to the doorstep of our true inner self.

Waking up and finding the light switch

The ego needs to wake up and see how it is trying to cheat life by attempting to find a shortcut to happiness. We must see how hanging on is not the answer, and we must accept that finding our light means letting go.

We must realize that letting go requires us to clear away our inner walls and dark areas, and we must take the apparent risks associated with healing: becoming vulnerable, transparent and flexible. And then we must consciously surrender.

In the flow of our Higher Self, our efforts become seemingly effortless.

Yes, finding our light is hard work. But in the end, is this really a hardship? For truly, our brilliant inner light by far outshines our ego and is the true source of everything good. Our divine nature is to flow and find our way, following the path that will lead to everyone’s highest good.

True enough, this is often the way that requires more effort, not less. (By contrast, following our Lower Self can also be called following the path of least resistance.) But since our Higher Self is connected with the source of all that is, when we’re in the flow of it, energy flows freely from within us to replenish us. Our efforts then become seemingly effortless.

Our Higher Self is creative, abundant, resilient and fearless. It knows deeply, loves openly and can carry us to freedom. Our ego, on the other hand, is but a limited, temporary aspect whose destiny is to serve our greatness.

When the ego gets it right, we start living from our greatness; we access our full potential. It is the awakening ego that eventually figures this out and starts tackling the challenge of finding our light.

—Jill Loree

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