Sun. Apr 14th, 2024

By Edward-Yemil Rosario

Three hundred thousand new businesses were formed in the United States in 2003. Eighty percent of these start-ups fail within the first two years. I doubt very much that the founders of these businesses assumed they would be part of the unfortunate 80 percent. More than half of all US marriages end up in divorce within five years of being formed, with thirty percent of those remaining in marriage reporting being extremely dissatisfied. Again, we can imagine that very few lovers assumed that they would be part of the despondent 80 percent.

Why does our innate vision, which knows only happy endings and simple solutions, rarely lead to what we had imagined? When we dare give flight to our dreams, why is it so often destined for a crash landing?

Actually, I started this entry back-ass-wards: I should have begun with an entry on what I call “natural vision” a child-like (as opposed to childish) quality that persists in seeing the world with fresh eyes.

Natural vision invariably is sabotaged by an unforeseen element in our lives, which affects us internally and externally. It is so powerful that it influences the way we parent, the way we treat our loved ones and each other, the way we work each day. And it influences how others treat us. We never expect or invite it, yet almost every aspect of our lives exists in its shadow. And though we constantly find evidence of its effects, this force is basically invisible and therefore never anticipated or fully understood. Oh yes, we do our best to put a good face on it in order to keep it hidden from others, thinking our dark secrets are ours alone, but it really doesn’t work: you can see the effects of this force everywhere.

What is this mysterious element in human nature that stalks and sabotages us?


* * *

The Mini Me

And The Creation of our Personal Novela

Human beings are driven by a core wound this kind of madness that something’s missing. The more conscious they get, the more desperate that becomes…

— Saniel Bonder

In Shakespeare’s Othello the protagonist and his young Venetian wife are deeply in love. Othello is a noble and simple-hearted soldier who trusts those around him. Desdemona, his devoted wife, loves him deeply and hangs on his every word. It is Iago, Othello’s advisor and apparent friend, who plays one character against another, creating an atmosphere of separation and distrust. He whispers doubts into Othello’s ear, inciting in him a violent jealousy that ultimately leads to a senseless tragedy.

We are all Othellos at heart — open, trusting, wanting to see the best in each other — and we are often seduced and driven to insane action by our own invisible Iagos. Our Iago is a state of mind; he cannot be seen, he lives in the shadows. Yet his work can be seen everywhere. Iago whispers to us both from within and through other people: it is the voice of a collective conditioning.

Our Iagos are like the “mini me” from the Austin Powers movies — a smaller, angrier, and spiteful version of ourselves — a tragically funny alter-ego. Most of us live with a painful sense of separation from others, a sense that something is missing, and a deep experience of limitation, fear, and desire — we experience ourselves as small. As a result, we engage in a flurry of activity to avoid the objects of our fear and obtain the objects of our craving.

This is the dance of problem-based living and, although widely perceived as normal, it fuels an endless drama of struggle. It’s the main character in our personal novela — those oh so melodramatic  Spanish-language soap operas. And no matter how hard we try, the poison seeps through the cracks in our armor, manifesting as disease, conflict, unnecessary suffering, and failure.

On a personal level, it can manifest as a general anxiety, or a body image problem. On a community level, it can sabotage something as seemingly simple as a blog (if you want proof of the mini me, just take note of the widespread pettiness on the blogosphere or any one of the social networks). Globally, it is expressed as war, as economic and environmental madness. This force has been given many names. I have heard it called “The Gremlin,” or (for the fundamentalists here) “Satan.” I call it ego-based living, or, the “Mini Me.”

Unlike the movie, we cannot see or measure the mini me directly; we only know it by its effects. It is like a thief in the night: you actually do not see him, but you know he has been there because your valuables have been taken. This mini me is state of mind — a social conditioning of sorts and it possesses certain qualities:

Sense of Lack This is the essence of the mini me. Enough is never enough; we are never spiritual enough, skinny enough, smart enough, or hip enough. We perceive everything through this sense of lack.

Sense of Separation Constantly reaching “out there” to fill up our sensed emptiness keeps us focused from a “me-oriented” perspective, reinforcing our separateness.

Addiction Gripped in the throes of craving and lack, as soon as we sense that something external will “do it” for us, we latch on to it and become addicted. In this way, the mini-me can lead us into unhealthy attachments to work, sex, food, drugs, the internet (Facebook? LOL!), or even romantic relationships.

Fear Once desire and addition take over, we are overcome by a sense of non-specific fear. If we believe the right relationship will alleviate our sense of emptiness, immediately loneliness becomes a terrifying fate.

Suspicion fear makes us suspicious, we trust no one completely.

Strategic Living We always plan for the worst — something bad can happen any moment (politicians are notorious for using this aspect of the mini me).

Anxiety There is notion that something is wrong, that we should be doing something more to be “complete.”

Hostile Competition this is especially true in the realm of dating and/ or romance. If there is this notion that there is not enough, we must fight others who are trying to get it too! This is hostile competition as opposed to co-creation.

How can we get back to our “larger” selves, where ego-driven madness doesn’t rule? How do we (or do we want to?) get back to our original self — connected to something more powerful than mere desire, aversion, and grasping?



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8 thoughts on “The Mini Me”
  1. I used to know this “mini-me” you describe quite well – always telling me what I need to be because the society around me wants me to be it (be the “good, productive citizen,” be the one looking for “the one” to have as your spouse, be ready to father new kids into the world so that soceity might have future drones to preform its menial tasks, etc…).

    It was only when I took a peak behind the proverbial curtain and saw the most disturbing truths my old worldview could have imagined (there is no such thing as “god” [at least not as organized religion recognizes it], government is naturally corrupt and repressive, employment is little more than “legal” slavery, marraige is all about property and things like love and happiness have little to do with this arcane institution, etc…) that the “mini-me” finally died – and the cynical egoist I am was born.

  2. I am going to take a stab at answering that final question, recognizing that my answer is just that, just one answer to one question, not “the answer” or the “right” answer or someone else’s answer.

    I do best, then, at getting back to my original self, or as I would put it, becoming more fully myself,
    by recognizing that I am already whole and already connected, and I always was; by being mindfully present; by living fully and with intention, not in the sense of being driven toward external goals or by external desires, but in the sense of letting my deeper intentions inform my actions; by living as if I were not afraid, even when I am; by recognizing the brokenness that the mini-me has created and being present with it, too, which is healing, instead of fleeing it, which empowers it; by accepting that I cannot *make* a business succeed, *make* a marriage good, *make* anything happen, but I can allow myself to take radical risks, knowing that I will be whole whatever the results and whether I take those risks or not.

    And now, a question in return: How do we keep the mini-me from turning “getting back to our true selves” into a goal that we strive to achieve and toward which we measure our progress, and about which we think in terms of success or failure?

  3. I make the decision, every day—sometimes every moment— to nurture my inner Othello — to make the active choice to be open, trusting, wanting to see the best in others. Some days this is easier than others. I find that being in HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, or tired) usually precipitates the appearance of my own internal, ever lurking, “bad neighborhood.” It is a signal that I an not taking care of myself and attention is needed, and given. I absolutely refuse to create a life for myself that is Lagos based. I may not be in the position to create all of the circumstances that take place in my life, but I do have the ability to monitor the importance that I give these circumstances—-the way that I interpret what is taking place. Circumstances are neutral in nature, and our interpretation is the “the tipping point” of our experiences that moulds, or
    “molds” (ha-ha) our journey.

    Loving your posts, Edie!

  4. Eddie, i won’t even pretend i know the answer. My own battle with self has been complex and i would probably have exhausted myself completely by now except that there came a time when i had to make a choice on what had meaning to me. I faced hard moral questions, and the answers meant giving up something i loved for something more economically secure. The answers meant conforming to the socially acceptable or relying on my own independent beliefs. I chose my independence. It’s garnished me little in terms of financial gain or influential position, but i enjoy the life i live and my mini-me has grudgingly decided to be happy as well.

  5. @karen: Yes, sometimes ego subverts even spiritual issues (what a former teacher called “spiritual materialism”). I do think there is a “spiritual technology” we can use that helps us navigate the stormy search for the Self.

    @Choose: Yes, it has to be part of a daily practice, and the changes are often barely noticeable. but then one day you look and you see you’ve taken the journey of a thousand steps, but one step at a time.

    @Karlsie and the rest: just to illustrate: One day i was asked to be on TV as a panelist. the day came and when the moderator was introducing the various guests, he kept going on about this expert and man! This guy he was describing was REALLY great. it turns out the moderator was introducing me! LOL Immediately, the Mini Me went to work and whispered: “You’re a fraud and everyone here will now know you’re a fake.”

    Of course, I immediately thanked my mini me for sharing and told him to STFU and get back in his cage.

    FOR ME, this is how the mini me works his influence. However, I’ve been able to get the tools, through my spiritual practice, wherein I am able to decouple the profoundly dysfunctional conditioning at the heart of the mini me.

  6. Yeah, for me, it’s all about just that–recognizing it so it has no power. You’re going to screw up now and then, but once you recognize that, the danger is in beating yourself up for having listened to the mini-me–because then you’re just listening to the mini-me saying, “How stupid are you that you listened to me? You really blew it this time, and look at all the time and energy you’ve wasted.” But listening to that is just a waste of more time and energy, only then you can beat yourself up for that. 😉 It can be hard to believe that it’s as simple as it is, because the mini-me is all about blame and punishment and struggle and making sure a price is exacted. Instead of being glad you noticed that you were stumbling, so you can stop, it’s easy to end up focusing on the fact that you stumbled.

  7. I tend to think it’s important to listen to and not ignore the “mini-me”. He/she shows up for a reason after all. But by listening to the little fella it is easier to suss out what it wants and why it is there. Shoving it back in a cage only enrages it, makes it more vocal and a bigger pain in the ass.
    But that’s just me. We all have to find ways to deal with our self doubt.

  8. IO agree that repressing it can cause dangers later, but sometimes he needs to STFU — especially when I’m on TV! LOL

    I actually find a lot of humor in my mini me these days. He’s like an ego maniac with low self esteem and that’s always great fodder for humor. LOL

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