5 Common Spiritual Ego Traps (and How to Avoid Them)

Though many of us may have a love-hate relationship with our ego, it’s necessary to remember that it serves an important spiritual role. In the positive, it gives us a distinct personal identity that helps us fulfill our life purpose, allowing us to share unique soul gifts with the world while working out our karma.

In the negative, the ego fools us into becoming overly identified with our bodies, thoughts and emotions. This attachment tricks us into believing we are fundamentally separate from God, one another and even our own souls, which leads to suffering. Over time, enough profound suffering eventually leads us back to God, completing the cycle.

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How Spirituality Can Shape Our Self-Esteem

Some children aren't spiritually inclined, but many are. Is this because their tender, innocent awe for all things alive and imagined hasn't yet been trounced by trauma, teasing and/or adult logic? Is it because angels, deities and saints are magical beings on par with elves, fairies, imaginary friends and Queen Elsa of Arendelle? Is it because their memories of past lives still feel fresh? Is it because it is the nature of the young, for better or worse, simply to believe?

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Brain and Behavior

How to Avoid Being Hurt at Church

I consider myself to be highly spiritual. Just like many other people throughout the world, I go to church, read the Bible, and try very hard to demonstrate love wherever I go. Over the years, my spirituality has allowed me to develop a great respect for church leaders and the work that they do. Yet, I quickly realized that church leaders are human and sometimes they make mistakes. So, what happens when the people who you respect so much let you down?

Not all church leaders are manipulative or bad. In fact, I believe that most are amazing men and women who have a strong desire to help others. However, every individual, regardless of role, has imperfections. Sometimes these can result in miscommunication, hurt feelings, anger, and even a flareup of mental health symptoms among the most emotionally vulnerable people.

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The Fallacy of Unconditional Love: Why Selfless Loving Doesn’t Work & What Really Does

Wouldn't it be great to find someone who loves and accepts us as we are? Many times during psychotherapy sessions, my clients have uttered some version of, “I just want to be unconditionally loved! I want someone who can accept me with my flaws and foibles.”

I’m very sympathetic to our desire for a partner who is not bent on fixing and changing us. As psychologist
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Pride Is Nothing to Be Proud of: What We Really Need to Feel Good About Ourselves


"I’m proud of myself for having graduated from college and for my accomplishments in life. I pride myself on being punctual and for having strong moral values. I’m proud of my beautiful home and garden."

These are some of the things that might swell us with pride. But what exactly is pride? Does it serve us or trap us? How does it differ from dignity?
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How to Awaken Your Soul After a Broken Heart

"For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction." -- Cynthia Occelli
There are no two ways about it. Heartbreak squeezes you as though you were an orange, crushes you as though it were a tractor, and cuts sharply as a razor blade.
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Stop Working On Yourself to Further Your Growth! The Power of Self-Acceptance

"I’m a person who is working on myself. I’m a work in progress. I keep working to improve myself."

My problem with these expressions is that it implies that we view personal growth as a process of dissecting, prodding, or poking ourselves to fit into a vision of how we’d like to be. It implies that there’s a self that we don't accept -- or feel ashamed of. It energizes an inner critic that is constantly watching over us -- blaming us when we’ve blown it and ordering us to improve. This vigilant and critical attitude undermines personal growth rather than supports it.

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Growing Up: Playfully Serious vs. Seriously Playful

My father liked to teach his sons basic skills, like how to use a saw, tighten a nut, and catch a baseball. In one of my earliest memories of him we are on a beach and he is teaching me how to skip stones across the water. First, choose the right stone: not too heavy and not too light, flat enough and having an edge so you can spin it off your finger. You also have to bend over and throw it at just the right angle.

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Yearning for Perfection Can Be Counterproductive

If you’re thirsty, you crave water. If you’re hungry, you want food. If you’re lonely, you yearn for companionship. Once our basic needs are met, we sometimes strive for perfection or seek self-actualization.

A recent discussion with my six-year-old grandson, Ryland, helped me realize how misguided striving for perfection can be. Ryland, getting frustrated with a picture he was drawing, told me that he wanted it to be perfect. When I asked him what he meant by perfect, Ryland explained that it means everything is exactly right.

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How to Let Go of Letting Go

The art of moving into the peaceful state of Letgo.

After thirty years in the mental health profession, I have grown leery of psychological catchphrases. Sure, they make good headings on posters and coffee mugs, and as personal mantras they can even have a stabilizing and healing effect.

However, much of the time these Neo-Freudian one-liners have all the sincerity of political sound bites and the illuminating power of an Itty Bitty book light.
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