How My Shattered Ego Invites Me to Transform

What happens when my ego is shattered? Transformation? It feels more like deflation. Yet, could a shattered ego lead to something useful? If so, why does it hurt so much? I like Friedrich Nietzsche connects these concepts:

“A thought, even a possibility, can shatter and transform us.”

I’ve noticed that I’m pretty resistant to new ideas – particularly those that directly affect me. Like my personal self-image. My ego’s job is to keep me safe by using tested and proven methods to “keep me in line” (safe!). One of those methods is pain, which has kept me in order throughout my life and has been a significant factor in my learning process. Thus, upon shattering my rigid ego formula, it’s likely my ego will use pain to reign me in, so to speak.

A shattered ego is one that has fought a battle against change – employing whatever strategies and weapons it has at its disposal. Of course, favoring the previously tried and proven – like pain, humiliation, shame, and guilt. Its success has kept me firmly within the boundaries of safety, propriety, and rightness to this point.

What if on the other side of shattered – with its attendant emotions like humiliation, deflated ego, and loss of self-trust – is transformation? I’ve just peered briefly into that realm – before falling back into bubble awareness. Could I use the opening offered by a shattered ego to transform myself beyond bubble awareness and embrace who I AM?

Thoughts that Transform

I’m learning that everything in my bubble awareness “reality” is merely a concept, a thought. Through sensual perception and emotional feeling, I give those thoughts power by imagining them as things of substance. Using the reinforcing power of justification and confirmation bias, I can substantiate anything at any time.

Change a thought, a judgment, about something or someone and they change to me. I literally change YOU by changing ME – perhaps more accurately, when I change MY mind about YOU and/or ME, I transform my world.

It’s just a thought, a possibility… 😉

Beyond Gratitude as Judgment

Gratitude is all about noticing and awareness. By asking a question, I can bring about noticing in a way that promotes awareness beyond the First-Second Degree of Illumination bubble. Within the bubble of limited perception, I experience gratitude as an emotionally-charged competition or comparison – a value-judgment backed by a defense that often takes the form of an expression in the syntax of emotion-comparison-justification:

“I feel grateful for [something I value-judge as positive]… because… [some reason this judgment confirms my values]”

Example: “I feel grateful for sunrises because they make me feel hopeful…”

Structurally, my statement includes an emotion, “I feel”; a comparison judgment, “grateful for…”; and a defense, “because…” – the basic structure of the bubble, in which I compare, compete, and defend. “Grateful,” in this case, means “compared to what I value” – a validation of my opinions/notions as truth.

Is there another way?

To experience gratitude beyond the bubble, it must take on a different sensibility altogether. In the realm of accountability for creation, awareness would appear as a sort of universal acceptance of ALL that IS. As a confirmed bubble resident, I can tell you that my experience of this kind of gratitude is exquisite, sublime, and ultimately life-affirming.

To turn bubble comparison into life-affirming accountability, I might question how I express thanks – and maybe reconsider in the light of acceptance.

Let’s start by reviewing how I express gratitude within bubble awareness:

  1. I notice an experience that I…
  2. relate to other similar experiences and then…
  3. make a judgment (better or worse) that I…
  4. justify with a defense that validates my values and beliefs.

Now, let’s look at it from an acceptance-of-accountability perspective:

  1. I notice that everything is as I perceive it.

From my limited bubble perspective, Fourth Degree of Illumination acceptance of accountability may appear to me as surreal – and maybe the truth behind the illusion.

Predictions and the Power of Why

I appreciate how important it is to have an answer or some kind of reason for why things happen as they do. We invent religions and gods to help us cope with what we don’t understand or fear. Even science has its own religion of sorts – always seeking to find that illusive reason “why.”

I, too, would love to know why. It’s in my nature to want to know. Although I consider it important to ask questions as part of the process of arriving at a satisfactory “Why,” I find asking a useful question much more difficult.

In lieu of useful yet difficult questions, I’ve occasionally settled for poorly-formed questions. I then defend the resulting deficient answers when those answers are passable enough to match my preconceptions, prejudices, and expectations. I exploit these settled-upon invalid answers as “proof” of my “truths” that now seem confirmed – absolutely right – and no longer subject to further inquiry. Done deal!

A Cause and Effect Conundrum

For a moment, let’s dispense with all reasoning, justification, rationalization – and simply look at cause and effect. Something happens and that causes something else to happen. I have experienced some cause and effect relationships often enough that I feel confident I can accurately predict effect from cause.

For example, if I step off a steep ledge, I drop to the ground. I’m familiar with the action of gravity on this earth and I can expect to fall every time I step off a steep ledge. Further, I can predict with a fair degree of accuracy that if you step off the steep ledge, you, too, will fall. Consensus truth!

Physicist David Boehm showed that cause and effect may be an illusion. Why? Because all causes are entwined with all effects in a mesh so tightly woven that it is literally impossible to separate cause from effect – we just believe that we can – making us feel safer when we believe that we can know cause from effect.

This is “if-then” thinking. I do it because I like to accurately predict and so feel safer. Even when I manage to accurately predict something, I feel better because I was right about my prediction. Validation. Vindication. Feel-good.


I make a fine human and a lousy scientist overall. That is, I like to be right rather than correct. I will tend to “fix” the outcomes of my experience to appear more right – rather than accepting what actually IS. To that end, I sometimes set myself and others up so I will more likely make myself right and as a bonus, receive some hard-earned validation from those I’ve convinced. Maybe most of that work went into hope that by convincing others, I’ll convince myself. Truth by consensus.

In other words, I’m willing to cheat!

Let’s take another look at cause and effect and relate it to cheating.

Something happens. Something caused it. If Dr. Boehm is correct, then something caused that cause – everything. What is everything? Isn’t that another way of saying, “All” or “Oneness”?

Assuming Dr. Boehm’s point, everything is causal to everything else and I’m experiencing my perception of those interactions. Cheating is not impossible – it’s irrelevant!

Time to get back to finding useful questions to ask. I think we’ve been through this before… 😉

Doing Something Constructive with Why

What if, instead of spending all your time visualizing your goals, you spend about 60 percent of your time thinking about WHY you want them?

Want a new house? Why? The typical response is “Er, uh, well because I’d like to have it.” That won’t do. Sorry. You’ll need to dig deeper and find things like because…

  • I want to live near my children’s school so we can participate together in their education.
  • My aged mother is moving in, and we need more space so we can more enjoy each other’s company.
  • I want stability for my family after years of moving around.
  • I want to build up some real equity for our future.

Look for reasons that tickle something deep down in your psyche. Shallow won’t motivate. It won’t keep you moving for the long haul.

Once you’ve got some reasons why that are deeply meaningful to you, then spend time getting familiar with them. Saturate your mind with them. Do it many times a day to build your ability to focus on your dream rather than defend what you already have or know.

Personality Type by Third Degree Question

Might I be able to identify a personality type by dominant usage of Third Degree of Illumination question type? Referring to our 4-question model of inquiry:

  • A What type might focus more on things, ideas, etc.;
  • A How type might focus more on ways and means, goals, and methodologies – engineering;
  • A Why type might focus more on emotions, empathy, and certainty;
  • A Who type might focus more on interpersonal relationships, authoritarianism, etc. –

Might a long list of personality characteristics be made from these? I wonder.

Read more Personality Type by Third Degree Question

Convincing Words and the Third Degree

I tend to use the word, “so” as one of several convincing words to end questioning. Same with the words, “because” and “then” – transition words that move a concept from consideration to conclusion. I use them as Second Degree of Illumination defense to avoid Third Degree of Illumination inquiry and convince myself of my rightness within my First-Second Degree of Illumination bubble.

I use convincing words to invoke consensus as a defense and to halt further investigation. As a conjunction, the word “so” means, “and for this reason; therefore.” (Google) “Because” as conjunction means, “for the reason that; since.” (Google) “Then” and “therefore” conjunctions essentially mean the same as “so”.

Convincing Words and the End of Inquiry

Read more Convincing Words and the Third Degree