Are Your Reactions Affecting Your Health?
How ego could be getting in the way of your health, happiness and well-being.
Do you ride the waves of life—or feel you need to keep yourself safe from the unknown? Another way to look at this is: Do you simply observe how the world around you makes you feel, or do you react in defense? In yoga, ego has less to do with a “better than” concept and more to do with understanding who you are in relation to the world around you.
For example, visualize what happens when you’re cut off in traffic or treated rudely. Does your heart start to race, muscles tense and/or a wave of heat come over you? These are telltale signs you’re tapping into your fight-or-flight response. During this, your brain tells your body it’s in danger and releases hormones that readies it for a fight. This reaction was helpful for cavemen defending against predatory animals. For you reacting to a co-worker’s tone in an email? Not so much. Many of us function from a place of fight-or-flight all day long, 365 days a year. Add up these reactive moments and you have the perfect recipe for stress-related ailments such as insomnia, muscle pain and high blood pressure.
Add in unhelpful behaviors of coping with stress, such as overindulging in food, media and negative self-talk, and the makings for a physically and emotionally unhealthy you come together. When operating from a “me” versus “them” mentality, you’re always one interpretation away from a fight. If you shift your attention away from ego and toward how you react to the world around you, your defense system can take a break.
Being self-reflective then creates self-compassion. Having compassion with yourself then helps you place those around you in a position of compassion as well. The more self-aware you become, the healthier you will feel and operate. Operating from a position of self-compassion, you have the potential to dismantle the chronic triggering of fight-or-flight and feel more empowered, optimistic and at ease—all great things for your health.