I suffered from an addiction to email. Because I got so many messages each day, I had to keep checking email in order to stay on top of everything coming in. Or so I told myself.
It would have been far more practical to check email just a few times per day. That way I could get my most important work done without being distracted. But I couldn’t help myself – I had to keep checking mail. It didn’t even feel like a conscious choice – it just happened.
Choosing our ego is much the same way. Seeing ourselves as victims (or victimizers) seems like it just happens without much choice on our part. This choice always leads to feelings of sadness, lack, anxiety, and guilt – basically all manifestations of fear. This line from A Course in Miracles helps make it clear: “Whenever fear intrudes anywhere along the road to peace, it is because the ego has attempted to join the journey.” But there is a way out.
The first step is an intellectual understanding that we are making the choice, however unconscious it may seem. I was the one checking email – no matter how I would have liked to admit otherwise.
The second step is putting the intellectual awareness into practice. In the case of email, by keeping the app closed and scheduling times in the day for checking and processing email. No other times was I “allowed” to check. Of course, it took some time for this new behavior to become a habit. But once it did, the results were extraordinary.
Likewise, for our habitual choice for the ego, try imagining it as an application that we currently have open and running all the time. It’s always pinging and beeping and creating all sorts of cues to suck us in. Now in that mental picture, imagine closing the app. Know that there will be plenty of “opportunity” at another point in time to re-open it and see what’s going on. But the more we practice keeping the app closed, the easier it becomes to continue the practice – and even better – the more peaceful we feel.