A few weeks ago I listened to a radio interview with Michael Beckwith, author of Spiritual Liberation, and he said, “A bad day for the ego is a good day for the soul.” When I heard this I laughed out loud. The wisdom of his statement resonated with me deeply. I thought about a number of experiences in my life which have been quite “bad” for my ego (i.e. embarrassing, disappointing, and even painful), but in hindsight have been great for my own growth and development.
Over this past week, I’ve had two specific situations, one in the middle of a seminar with one of my clients and another in a personal conversation, where I felt embarrassed – things didn’t turn out at all how I wanted them to and it seemed like I messed up. As I experienced these situations and have been reflecting on them, although I didn’t like how they unfolded, I recognize that the discomfort involved in both instances was about me protecting my ego (in other words – wanting to look good or at least not to look bad).
In retrospect, I’m grateful that both of these things happened exactly as they did. They were and continue to be good opportunities for me to learn, grow, and evolve – both in my work and my life.
Too often our desire to protect our ego – to avoid failure and embarrassment – causes us to sell out on ourselves, not go for what we truly want, or hold back in a variety of detrimental ways. When we remember that even if things don’t turn out the way we think we want them to, not only will we survive, we can grow in the process. As the saying goes, “if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.”
This is not to say that the only way to grow, evolve, and transform in life is through suffering, disappointment, or pain. However, when we do experience difficulties, failures, and challenges – all of which are normal and natural aspects of life and growth – we have the capacity to turn these “bad” things into incredible opportunities for healing and transformation. While it may not seem that way to us (or our ego) initially, the deeper part of who we are (our soul) knows that everything happens for a reason and there are always important lessons for us to learn in each situation and experience in life.
Think of some of the things that have happened in your life that seemed “awful” to you at the time, but in hindsight are things you’re incredibly grateful for now.
The most elegant, pleasurable, and self-loving way for us to grow and evolve is through joy, success, and gratitude. However, due to the fact that difficulties do occur in life and that we often give away our power to the “bad” stuff (through resistance, judgment, or worry), learning to relate to our challenges in a more positive and conscious way is a crucial part of our growth journey.
Remembering that what’s usually at risk in life when we get scared is just our ego, can remind us, with compassion, that we don’t have nearly as much to lose as we think we do. Embodying this insight (that a bad day for our ego is a good day for our soul) with empathy and perspective, allows us to live our lives with a deeper sense of forgiveness, faith, and authenticity.