Cheryl's Blog

Navigating the pull of the past

Several people wrote in response to last week’s blog asking me to say more about how going back in time to revisit our lives (in my case by reviewing my photo library) can cause the ego to try and pull us back to the people and places we’ve outgrown. This is a big conversation and while it warrants a whole chapter in a book, I’m going to attempt to sum it up as best I can here.

We live in a world that promotes doing, not being. From the moment we’re born, we’re encouraged to achieve. As babies, we’re taught to crawl, stand, and walk. We enter school, and we’re told to study hard, complete homework, and get good grades. In adulthood, we secure jobs, build homes and families, start businesses, and strive to create more success.

As we enter into our wisdom years the assignment may shift, but it’s still the same game. We forget that we’re mortal and we try to outsmart aging with the latest “life hacks.” We do what we can to remain relevant and worthy of the attention of others. We think about legacy and what we can “do” to be remembered. The game never ends.

But the we in all of these scenarios isn’t us. It’s the ego.

This first half of our lives is dedicated to developing the ego – the personality that carries us through life. This personality is the result of everything that’s happened – all that we’ve learned, the people we’ve met, the experiences we’ve had, and all the choices we’ve made. To put it simply, the ego is the formation of “you” based on the influence of the outer world and your reaction to it.

Now, the ego is crafty. When you catch on that it’s not you (more on this later), it gets nervous and fights to stay alive by keeping you enrolled in the doing and achieving game. In my case, when my ego saw an old photo of me on stage, it said: “Girl, you need to get back out there. You’re a born teacher. It’s your purpose. Come on!” Or when it saw the cover of one of my books, it warned: “You’re not getting any younger, honey. There’s still another chance to get back on a list. Let’s write another bestseller!” If that doesn’t work, the ego ups the ante. It sees a group shot of the folks I used to travel with and it says: “Look at how much fun you had. You can have that again. Let’s go!”

The ego is seductive and its voice is hard to resist because we believe it’s who we are. After all, we’ve dedicated our whole lives to its creation. But I am not my ego and you are not yours. You are a being far beyond anything created by the physical world.

I stopped letting my ego run the show when I started listening to another voice – the voice that is eternal, awake, and aware of more than this life. This voice got my attention when it started saying things like, “You’re tired, sweetheart, and you need to rest.” Or, “You’re bored. You’ve been doing the same thing for a long time and you’re ready for something new.” And, “Why don’t you stop and catch your breath so I can show you a new way to live.”

At first, this new voice threw me (my ego) into a panic. We loved the life we created and we didn’t want to let go. But I was tired, I was bored, and I was well aware that I had less life ahead of me than behind me. So, I decided to listen.

Six years later, with ongoing wise counsel, a more spacious schedule, and a solid relationship with the real me, I can love the ego but not surrender to her bidding. Instead, we’re learning to dance together. Most days she follows my lead and life is much better because of it. And when she doesn’t, I cut myself some slack and do my best to get back in the groove.



P.S. – Check out the audiobook workshop called “Self Care for the Wisdom Years” available through Audible. You can learn more here.


Photo by Orkun Azap on Unsplash