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Prison of the mind

"A human being is a part of the whole, called by us Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."
~ Albert Einstein

Psychology recognises that each person without exception is born with an innate desire to love and be loved; to feel wanted and valued.

Identity = The condition of being oneself and not another.

Personality = The visible aspect of one's character as it impresses others.

February 1982. "John" is several weeks from birth, yet he is fully conscious within the womb. He will not come into the world with any predetermined views or judgments about the world, his place in it or which football team or religion he will follow. In the womb John is at peace and one with everything; it is the source of his own universe and love – his identity – because his mind is attuned entirely with his heart centre. Only when he emerges and experiences his new environment does he become aware of himself as a seemingly separate entity. It is his judgments and beliefs about his new reality and his place within it that will shape his personality.

As John grows older, his views and ideas about life increasingly conflict with those of his parents, his main source of love, and he quickly discovers that their love flows with conditions attached ("Do this and I will love you." "Do that and I won't."). John's parents feel compelled to create him in their own image, as their parents did to them and so on down the generations. They believe it is their duty to groom John in their own experiences of the world – to "save" him from the mistakes which, they perceive, obstructed or held them back in some way.

John's parents, therefore, don't give him the freedom he needs to explore his unique identity and to make his own mistakes from which to learn, grow, and be true to himself. Instead, in setting out to rescue him, they end up smothering and thwarting John with their own beliefs and ideals. Problems arise because what they want for him does not equate with who John, at heart, feels he really is. His personality starts to conflict with his identity; the essense of who he really is.

John's growing mind absorbs information like a sponge. He can only evaluate life from what he perceives or experiences from his environment, and so he believes and internalises everything he is told about himself ("You are bad/ugly/not good enough/not popular/etc."), and makes value judgments based on his interpretation of what he witnesses and experiences around him. Together, these core beliefs and judgments form a huge range of dysfunctional thoughts from which John's reality is shaped.

"Many of us are still clinging to notions about our strengths and weaknesses that have been absorbed from parents, peers and other authority figures. For example, a teacher's observation that you were 'hopeless at maths' might have been accepted by you, seized upon by parents and siblings, and subsequently becomes part of your personal mythology."
Anita Chaudhuri [Psychologies]

Instead of encouraging a balance of virtues that every human being subconsciously aspires to, John's world emphasises masculine traits like competitiveness, aggression and winning at all costs over feminine values like compassion, empathy, intuitiveness and creativity. In changing his natural self-expression to feel loved, at ease and accepted in his conditioned environment, his personality adopts modes of behaviour that go against the grain of his identity; re[flex]actions against the shame, guilt and anxiety he is effectively programed to feel about who he really is.

These reactions create barriers of fear that sever the connection between his mind and his heart centre, giving rise to the ego; a monotonous, judgmental voice inside John's head which deceitfully reinforces all the negative programing and fear-based choices and decisions – lies and illusions – that he will ever make to justify his separation from his identity. The ego thrives on fear and deceit and can only exist independently of his identity/heart's source of love and truth, so its survival depends on John's personality not knowing that it is imprisoned by the mind's fears and neuroses. It does this by conditioning John's mind into believing the very things that his heart does not recognise as truth, causing him to dislike and deny aspects of his true self. Anything that contradicts the ego is instantly filtered from his mind, and he automatically erects yet more barriers of fear around his heart centre. As John's ego grows his identity diminishes, and he comes to believe that his ego is who he really is.

To boost his shrinking self-esteem caused by the diminishing connection to his heart centre, John derives external power instead by controlling his environment through force by making others feel inferior or manipulating situations to his advantage. Life becomes a constant power struggle as John goes from being open to closed at the pressing of any button that triggers a fear-based association with a past experience stored in his subconscious; the repository of all thoughts and impressions, both conscious and subliminal, that have shaped his life since birth.

The ego is all about control. Only when you are free of ego are you truly free…

The ego