If I could only tell you one thing to help you on your path to being more aware, living a happier, more balanced life, and even having a more successful business, it’s this: going backwards is absolutely part of the process.
I’m so familiar with this pattern now that I often warn coaching clients about it. Whenever you are making great progress, it is more than likely that you will find yourself going backwards at some point, usually just when you’re most excited about how well you’re doing.
In spiritual circles this is known as ‘Ego backlash’. The Ego here isn’t Freud’s Ego, but more like the part of us referred to by Steve Peters as ‘the chimp’ or, my favourite analogy, ‘the inner troll’. It’s the primitive part of us that wants to keep us safely in our cave, not taking any risks, because even being unhappy and lonely is better than encountering a sabre-tooth tiger and ending up dead. So, just when we’re expanding and starting to gain in confidence, the Ego/Chimp/Troll will try and drag us back down.
And, of course, when that happens we feel like we’re back at square one. But we aren’t. That’s just another Ego trick to keep us in the dark cave. ‘May as well give up, you’ll never change anything.’
A brilliant opportunity
In fact, whenever we get this ‘ego backlash’ it’s actually a brilliant opportunity to spot the Ego in action and realise that we don’t have to do what it’s telling us, that we don’t have to believe it when it says we can’t or shouldn’t do something.
And every time that happens, its hold on us loosens. So, if you’ve had an Ego backlash, don’t despair or give yourself a hard time about it. It’s actually a sign of progress. It wouldn’t be happening if the Ego didn’t feel threatened, which means you’re doing something right.
Two steps forwards, one step back (or sometimes more) is just how it goes. Keep going.
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The ego “troll” seems to love cranking up physical symptoms to make matters worse and drive home its malignant point.
Yes, good point, Scott, totally agree. It’s often at least part of any chronic pain for example.