Recognizing Ego – Why

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by DCH Park

We have touched on concepts and practices that are useful in recognizing ego in this series in the past. For example, see posts on

As you may recall from these previous discussions, emotional reactions of struggle, fear, exhaustion, and numbness (also described as nothingness or disengagement) are all signs of being immersed in ego drama. When we are immersed in the drama, the limits of the ego seem to be undeniably real. They can feel constricting, which commonly results in frustration over the sense of confinement.

Often there is another, subtler ego drama waiting to trap those who are present enough to recognize that they have been triggered. This second layer of ego is reflected in the question, “Why?”

The drama is different. It is a drama of a quest. Its emotional flavor is different but it effectively distracts us from the original triggered emotion and its structure by drawing us into the chase. Naturally, pursuing the quest occupies the intellect and draws focus and energy away from the original triggered reaction, giving it a chance to cool. This, combined with the intellectual distraction of the puzzle, draws us into the quest story. Ironically, in our pursuit of the answer to why we are triggered, we don’t even notice that we have left the original trigger far behind, still intact.

The quest itself is an illusion. Since the trigger is still in place, it is ready to be triggered all over again at a later time. Thus, the trigger has actually been reinforced, since anything that we practice grows stronger.

To better understand the nature of the quest drama, notice first that it is a puzzle – a mystery that we are compelled to follow and solve intellectually. The story of the quest is that by bringing sufficient logical reasoning to bear, we can solve the problem once and for all, like a mathematical problem asking us to compute the time when two trains traveling in opposite directions will pass each other if one leaves New York at 10:00 going at 60 miles per hour and the second leaves LA at 11:00 traveling at 80 miles an hour.

However, this quest is a trap. The desired solution does not exist. It is an illusion, as are all of the creations of ego as well as the ego itself.

We can experience and describe the truth. We can express and illuminate the truth. But we cannot explain the truth. The truth simply is.

When someone holds a ball and then releases it, we observe it drop to the floor. However, the stories that we tell ourselves and each other about why the ball hits the floor have no more bearing on the truth than stories about why the floor was drawn up to hit the ball.

Any such quest to explain why you feel triggered over something is likely to end in unanswered questions coupled with a loss of connection to the trigged emotion or a blanketing sense of frustration because your questions are not yielding answers, no matter how persistently or creatively you ask them.

Instead of asking yourself, “Why is this happening?” or “Why do I feel this way?” notice what is triggered and ask, “What does this remind me of?” Look for patterns rather than blame (or someone else to push blame on to).

What patterns do you notice in your reactions and expectations? When you feel triggered, what does the triggered emotion remind you of? When you notice yourself asking, “Why?” recognize that as an invitation to dive into the ego drama of the quest and instead refocus on the triggered emotion and the pattern it reflects. Be open to recognizing the fears, decisions, and beliefs that the pattern is based upon. And be ready to realize the freedom to let those things go and to choose a different response.

For more information or for personal support in exploring presence, contact me at or 412-407-7401.

© 2012 & 2013, David Park. All Rights Reserved.

Creative Commons License

“Recognizing Ego – Why” by DCH Park is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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