• terry lige ego self sabotage

    Unhealthy EGO: The Self Sabotage Cycle

    In my first EGO article I talked about that fact that our consciousness of self can be healthy or it can be unhealthy. In this article I want to discuss how our unhealthy ego operates. There is a self sabotage cycle that operates in each of us.

    Change always begins from the place of self awareness, so, it is crucial to understand the cycle as it operates in me; then it is important to acknowledge its reality and own its impact on my daily behaviors. Once I have the self awareness, acknowledgment and ownership, it will be much easier to see the outcomes that this self sabotage cycle creates in my life. People often attend personal development programs and seek out coaching or counseling because they are confused about how they create unhealthy, often destructive outcomes in their lives. An understanding of this cycle provides you with the “why you do what you do.” The following step will be about “what I do with the insight and understanding.” And, that is all about learning how to “let go” of the cycle. I will address that next week. 

    The Cycle

    1.     The Shadow Self Preoccupation  

    Understanding my self-sabotage cycle begins with acknowledging that I have a Shadow Self. My Shadow Self consistently tells me that I do not have value, I’m not good enough, I am not worthy and I am unlovable. My Shadow is triggered any time I think that someone or more often, I question my personal value. Consistently measuring my personal value is at the heart of my Shadow issue. 

    2.     The Shadow Triggers Emotional Hijacking

    When my personal value is questioned and measured there is a deep emotional discomfort triggered within me. My subconscious self has a difficult time dealing with the thoughts of not being good enough, so I go into emotional distress. An emotional cycle of disappointment, frustration, fear, anxiety, shame, guilt, anger and sadness is triggered. I call this Emotional Hijacking. This emotional discomfort is a very painful experience and my first response is to a desire to quickly escape these feelings. Unfortunately, quick fix solutions to this emotional discomfort are usually unhealthy coping and medicating strategies. Much of the addiction problems we experience in society today can be traced to this cycle. 

    3.     The Imposter to the Rescue

    The larger, more pervasive strategy for dealing with my personal value being questioned and measured is to create an imposter. The Imposter wants to relieve the internal discomfort by regaining a sense of personal value. Unfortunately it will look for the approval of people to regain that sense of value.

    Scott Peck describes for us what our imposter is when he says, For the most part we struggle to accept ourselves, so we feel we need to create someone whom we can like, and who is likable to others. We create a ‘pretend us’ or an ‘imposter’. Our imposters are created strictly for the approval or attention of others. They are meant to provide the acceptance that we crave from others. They are the ultimate “people pleasers”.

    The imposter’s role is simple. They attempt to prove to self and others that you have value by doing something that brings value to others. The ego’s sense of self worth is in most cases bound up with the worth you have in the eyes of others. You need others to give you a sense of self.

    Some common Imposters include; Mr./Mrs. Perfect, The Answer man/woman, The Performer, Funny man/woman, The Overachiever. One of my significant imposters is The Indispensible One. I wrote about this imposter a number of years ago. Here is an excerpt from that journal;

     “I utilize my talents to endear people to me. I draw people into a dependent relationship so that they feel I am indispensable to them. I become the pillar of strength that they can lean on. However, I protect myself by making these relationships professional. I do not need these people in the same way that they need me. In this way, if these people exit my life I do not suffer the pain of severing a close bond.”

    4.  The Stoop; The Great Saboteur

    The fourth stage of this cycle involves the role of my Stoop. The Stoop is the rebellious side of me that gets frustrated with the posturing and pretending Imposters and will do something to expose the imposter. Unfortunately, the Stoop, in its frustration will utilize behavior that is unhealthy and often extreme to get his point across. The action feels really good in the moment but always unhealthy. It is in those moments when my Stoop is acting out that I am willing to risk the disapproval of people. My Stoop is in fact saying, “I don’t care what you think, I’m doing it anyway.” Unfortunately, in hindsight, I will regret the actions of my Stoop and that regret will lead me back to the judgments of my Shadow Self and the beginning of the cycle all over again.

    The Self Sabotage Cycle; My Personal Example

    I was asked to leave a church I was pasturing a number of years ago. I really felt unjustly treated by a segment of the congregation and my District Executive. I would go as far to say that I felt emotionally and spiritually abused by them. However; I was not honest with how I felt because I felt the need to maintain my image as a minister. (My ImposterPlay the nice guy) At that time I believed that ministers were responsible to always maintain their cool and never respond out of an angry place…and I was angry (My Shadow). Two weeks later my son Nathan and I were on a golf course and someone shot a golf ball over Nathan’s head. When I saw that happen all my pent up anger rose to the surface and my stoop showed up to respond to the occasion. I went over to the person’s golf ball and shot it back at them and proceeded to wait for them to catch up to us so that the violent confronter (stoop) in me could beat the pulp out of this guy. My imposter is “playing the nice guy.” My shadow is “the angry man,” and my stoop is “the rebellious, violent, irreverent confronter.” I relish telling this story because I gain such a buzz out of my stoop stories. However; I also have to acknowledge that I use the stoop as a short cut to doing the actual, healthy work of dealing with my anger appropriately.

    The Choice

    Now that you have gained the awareness of your Imposter, Shadow, Stoop Cycle you have a choice about how to move forward once you are triggered emotionally.

    • The Unhealthy Choice: Retreat into the sabotage cycle and repeat past behaviors.
    • The Healthy Choice: Proceed to the Emptying Stage and learn how to let go of the unhealthy, self conscious ego.

    What is your choice?

    Next week, I will discuss the Emptying Stage


  • terry lige personal value ego

    Embracing Your Personal Value

    Over the past number of years I have run a weekend program simply called, EGO”. I especially enjoyed leading these weekends as I was personally challenged and enlightened by the topic. One of the reasons that I was drawn to this topic is because I have been accused on occasion of being egotistical. When I was a young man…a very, very long time ago…someone called me an egomaniac. I did not really know what that meant but I was pretty sure it was not a term of endearment. What I have learned over the years is that the ego plays a crucial role in how I see myself, what I believe about myself and how I perceive my personal value. In all the years that I have been working with people one of the most compelling and at times disturbing issues is this struggle with personal value. It is the one issue that profoundly impacts our decision making and ultimately our behavior.

    Read more

  • terry lige accountability in relationship

    Accountability in Relationship

    A common issue that I often have to deal with in Couples Counseling is “The Victim Position.” This position assumes that the responsibility for the problems in the relationship rest with the other person. Unfortunately, a common motivation for someone attending counseling, is that I will somehow help their partner see the error of their ways and will help them to fix their relationship sabotaging behaviors.

    One of the first things I say to couples that are playing the ‘blame game,’ is that I cannot help them if they are determined to maintain their position. Blame is an unworkable position. Meaningful, lasting change can only be created by me, for me.Read more

  • terry lige pursued by love

    Pursued By Love

    With just one week to go until Christine and I are beginning our second Couples Connections program, I am drawn to the most difficult question of all. Why are we so captivated with the idea of relationship? In a word; it is love.

    So; what is this love? The word has been defined as an emotional state, an intense feeling of attraction, affection and intimacy. But I really believe this is only the beginning of my understanding of the word. Wikipedia, in its definition points out that love is an abstract concept, easier to experience than to explain. I’m not sure that it is easier to experience but it certainly is an experience, sometimes so intense that a person feels they have lost all control of their senses.Read more

  • terry lige cup of tea

    Commitment and Determination

    As I prepare for our next Couples Connections (May 26-28), I am aware of couples who have desperately struggled with their relationships this past year. As a counselor and facilitator of relationship workshops I am sobered by this knowledge and concerned about how to help.

    Rescue the Struggling Relationship

    I understand clearly that there are good reasons to end a relationship and move on; however, I also believe that we are under obligation to ourselves and our partners to do everything in our power to salvage a broken relationship and build it into something that is healthy. The consequences of broken relationships are often so great that we cannot risk anything less than our absolute best effort to make these relationships work. And amazingly, a healthy relationship is one of the things that we most crave in our lives.

    So, how do you begin to address a struggling relationship?Read more

  • terry lige relationship couples connection

    Building Healthy Relationships

    In my many years of leading personal development workshops, people often attend because they are looking for answers about how to develop healthy, lasting relationships. It is obviously an important issue because we as a society struggle to accomplish those healthy, lasting relationships. Our divorce rates are higher now than ever and our attempts at a second or third marriage are even less successful than our first. I know there are exceptions to those trends and I am determined to be one of those exceptions; however, the statistics are compelling and disturbing.

    I have been reminded once again this month of how important it is to ask the question; what kind of love do I experience in my relationship? Is it the kind of love that is healthy and growing? Does it support my personal growth and the growth of my partner? Does it build on a mutual sense of purpose where the relationship serves as an example to other relationships and other individuals? Is it capable of resolving conflict and learning from mistakes?

    Or, is it the kind of insecure, selfish relationship that focuses on the immediate needs of the individuals and the relationship, filled with conflict and confusion?

    At the end of this month…May 26-28th, 2017 Christine and I will be running a Couples Connections. I want to take the next few blogs to talk about some of the reasons that we struggle in relationship and hopefully offer some suggestions about how to overcome some of those struggles.

    In every relationship there is a process that will take us to a healthy, lasting relationship. There are three definite stages that must be acknowledged and worked through. The first is Codependence, the second is Independence and the third is Interdependence.

    Codependence: Addiction or Love

    I actually think that most relationships begin in codependence. A simple definition of codependence states that, you have an excessive emotional of psychological reliance on a partner…you are dependent on their approval for your sense of worth and identity.”

    If you are codependent you are convinced that you need your partner in your life to be happy and fulfilled. Codependence is built around familiarity and habit. This kind of familiarity and habit feels similar to addiction where there is a constant level of insecurity and feelings of desperation when you do not feel acknowledged, accepted and approved by your partner. The truth is; relationship can be an addiction. It does not matter whether there is excessive turmoil, destructive abusive behavior or a complete disconnect and indifference; there are couples who will continue on in the relationship because of familiarity and habit. When I ask couples why they are still in this kind of destructive relationship; they often say, “I love them.” But, is this love?

    At this point I will usually say, ‘you say that you love one another, but your behavior is far from loving.’ I wonder if we have not confused our definition of love with addiction and codependence. This kind of love is tantamount to pain addiction.

    Okay; so, many of us begin in relationship believing that we could not live without our partner and we desperately need them to be happy and fulfilled. Fortunately, that is not where the story needs to end.

    Independence: I Love Myself

    The second stage in relationship moves me toward independence. It can be a quite daunting time in relationship because there is a realization that my relationship is no longer built on “need.” The insecurity and desperation I felt in codependence is replaced with self assurance and self confidence. This does not mean that I no longer love my partner; it just means that I am no longer dependent on them for my happiness, contentment or fulfillment.

    Achieving independence means that I can get clear about the kind of relationship I want. Once I have that clarity I will draw from my courage and self respect to ask for what I want and the determination and self confidence to teach my partner how to treat me.

    The key to a healthy relationship is a healthy individual. The health of my relationship begins with a commitment to know myself intimately and to learn how to love myself wholeheartedly. It is out of that love for self that I am able to love someone else wholeheartedly. Anyone who is not committed to their own personal development will struggle in relationship.

    This can be a scary time in relationship because it can feel like you are falling out of love. However, if both partners are aware of the process and continue to discuss this natural evolution in relationship, it will be freeing.

    Interdependence: I Choose You

    The third stage in relationship development is Interdependence. This is the stage in which a relationship experiences the health it seeks. At this stage, I no longer feel that I need my partner to give me a sense of identity or to make me happy. I have discovered that within myself; however; I can also acknowledge that having my partner in my life makes my life fuller and richer. Because I can acknowledge this, I choose them gladly to share my life.

    Interdependence means that I am in a partnership. This means that my partner and I share the responsibility for creating the life we want. It goes way beyond a sense of differing roles and responsibilities within a relationship, it finds a way create a sweet spot in the everyday ebb and flow of life. I really believe that sweet spot looks different for every couple, but it is a must if you want the relationship to be meaningful and effective.

    A simple example of this for Christine and I has to do with our meals. I work from home and Christine works at least two days a week away from home. We will juggle who makes the meals and often we make our dinners together. There is no stress concerning meals because we have figured out what works for us and it makes our lives together much easier. And, easier is what we are looking for.

    Ask yourself; what kind of love do I experience in relationship?

    If you can admit that it is not always the healthy love that you want, then what will you do to create a different relationship?

    The change you want could begins with Couples Connections May 26-28th.

    I encourage you to contact me if you want to discuss this possibility further.


  • terry lige shadow sacred self

    Change Requires Acceptance, Patience and Grace

    So far in this blog series you have gained clarity on the change you want, you have made the commitments to self that will sustain you along that path, you have established some new behaviors and habits and hopefully the strategy you have implemented is realistic and doable.

    A final step in this change process requires acceptance, patience and grace.

    Trial and Error: The Nature of the Journey

    On my journey of personal change, I know that I will stumble, relapse and regress. It is the nature of my journey. I am an imperfect person who makes mistakes and makes poor choices on a fairly regular basis. These poor choices and mistakes will result in failures that are difficult to come to terms with on a personal level. First and foremost, I have to accept the nature of this journey or I will constantly be striving for some level of perfection that is unachievable. That kind of striving leads to frustration and constant generalized anxiety. If I am consistently experiencing these emotions I know that I am resistant to the nature of the journey and not in the place of acceptance.Read more

  • terry lige realistic change

    Make sure the Challenge is Realistic. Be Wise

    So far in this blog series you have gained clarity on the change you want, you have made the commitments to self that will sustain you along that path and you have established some new behaviors and habits. At least that is what I hope you have done, because change will never happen unless you take action and do something different.

    A fourth step is to make sure the strategy you are implementing to create the change you want is realistic and doable.

    I often see individuals get excited about initiating a life change, then set goals that are unrealistic. Once you are clear about the change you want, make sure you establish doable steps on your way to the outcomes you want.Read more

  • terry lige jello

    Change your Behaviors

    On your path to creating the change you want, you have gained clarity about the change you want and you have made the commitments to self that will sustain you along that path. The third step requires you to establish new behaviors and habits. The change you want will not take place until you change the behaviors that are sabotaging that change. Do it differently is the constant battle cry of every Inside Out program. It is the point at which good information and good insight is transformed into dynamic experience. You can talk all you want about the change you want and what you think you need to do to create that change, but nothing will happen until you actually do it. Somewhere in the back of my mind I see the Nike slogan blinking on and off…just do it.

    This is usually the moment in my programs where I say, “If you do what you have always done, you will get what you always got.” Or, the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome.”Read more

  • terry lige integrity

    Creating Lasting Change

    In my last blog entry I identified that first step in creating lasting change…Be clear about the change you want. Get Focused. Once you have clarity about the change you want, it is crucial to commit to the change. It is not enough just to say you want something, you have to set your intention to create that outcome in your life. The way you set that intention is to make the commitments to yourself that will guarantee the outcome you want.

    Commit to yourself. Exercise Integrity

    Without question, there are lots of challenges, obstacles and temptations in your way to creating the change you want. It is the commitment you make to you that will sustain you in those moments when you are tempted to revert to old habits that sabotage your healthy choices. The commitment that I have made concerning my health is; I will do this for me. Read more