Do you have ‘tapes’ running in your head? You know, the kind that exist to remind you that you aren’t good enough, or smart enough, or pretty enough, or worthy or, well, whatever.

Do you have recurrent messages that play whenever you are just starting to make progress or feel better/good about yourself? Those are the ‘tapes’ to which I am referring.

Why do these tapes exist? What purpose could they possibly serve, especially when one considers the soul-robbing content of many of them?

I believe that they serve the Ego in its attempt to make sure that nothing ever changes. Why? Because the Ego depends on us never changing, growing, learning or — here’s the biggie — outgrowing the Ego itself.

So when I feel the negativity of my Ego playing my old tapes again, I have to stop. I need to take time to look inside myself and determine what it is about my path that has alerted the Ego to something amiss.

My understanding of the Ego and it’s sometimes unhealthy bids for control has come from reading books such as Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth…and  from my study of Buddhism.

Blending those two influences during my reading helped me to see the connection. The Buddha suggested that suffering comes from attachment. Suffering comes from wanting that which one cannot obtain.

So the solution to the suffering is to not have attachment to things…to not want. Tough, I know. We do have attachment to things and we do have wants, not to mention needs.

So yesterday when my Ego flared it’s ugly head because I was irritated by bureaucracy, I had to stop and think about what was happening. I was irritated because I was being kept away from something I wanted. And the result of my want? an ugly attitude and grumpy demeanor.

When I realized that I was allowing a want to unsettle my day, I looked inside to see what was going on. My Ego started playing my old tapes of how nothing good was going to come to me, because I simply didn’t deserve it.

Fast forward a few minutes to me realizing how vicious this specific cycle was, and I was able to work my way out of it.

Yes, I do want the house that we are attempting to buy. But I remind myself daily that it is just a house and that there are others. I remind myself daily that it is not a matter of deserving this house, or any other. It is simply a matter of me endeavoring to provide an appropriate, safe and welcoming home to my children, my family.

Once I put the want away, I put away the ugly feelings that come with it.

Calm and balance are restored.

What are your ‘tapes’ and how do you know that they are playing again?