Creative Status: Episode 34: Sara Sherwani: Expanding Your Mind is Your Greatest Treasure

Creative Status is a podcast about using creativity as a vehicle for improving your life by deconstructing ego, integrating the shadow self, and designing and manifesting a real life. Every episode explores how the creative process can help you GROW REAL by moving towards wholeness in yourself by making the unconscious conscious.

In this episode of Creative Status, I talk to a good friend of mine who has loads of amazing things to say about the ego and how it can show up in our lives: Sara Sherwani. Sara is a coach, podcaster, and designer who is also the founder of the Egoless Design Thinking project (EDT).

EDT is a a design methodlogy that helps designers to figure out some of their blindspots and see how their ego ‘stuff’ gets in the way of creative problem solving, team work, and the creative process of building something that people really care about and get value from.

This being the case, I really wanted to talk to her about what this ‘ego’ thing really is, what we can do about it, and how we can improve our relationship with it in order to live the best possible life and keep growing real. We cover tons of amazing things in this conversation so if you wanna figure out some ego ‘stuff’ and get more creative this is a really great place to get started!

Listen using the embedded player above or go to any podcast platform!

(Scroll down for show transcript)!

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Episode Links:

Sara Sherwani on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/sara.ksherwani

Connect with Sara on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sara-k-sherwani-51a46570/

Creative Status Links:

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Show Transcript: Expanding Your Mind is Your Greatest Treasure

Intro

Oli Anderson: Oh, hi there, Oli Anderson here. You’re listening to Creative Status. If this is the first time you’ve found a podcast, then welcome. This is a place where we talk about and explore how the creative process can be used as a vehicle for growing more real.

Growing more real just means that we are finding a way to move towards wholeness, that we’re not allowing ourselves to be held back by all of the fragmented ideas and limiting beliefs that we carry within our relationship with ourselves, that we are allowing the stuff, the emotional stuff that we need to face to grow, to come up to the surface through our creative projects, and that we can design a life that we actually care about and want to live because we’re bold enough to make a choice for ourselves and for the real stuff, our real values and intentions.

Anyway, don’t get me ranting and raving about all that. For those of you who have already listened to the podcast and you’ve come back, thank you so much. Really appreciate it. If you want to leave a review somewhere, then I would also appreciate that because that helps people to find the podcast. If you want to subscribe to this as well and you haven’t, then that means you’re not going to miss out on future episodes because why would you want to miss out on something like this? Come on now.

Anyway, today’s episode is an interview with Sara Shawani, who is a friend of mine. She is a designer, but she has an amazing project called Egoless Design Thinking, where she helps designers to basically figure out how their ego stuff and the emotions and all of the crap going on beneath the surface that led to the creation of the ego, how all that stuff is getting in the way of them solving problems, working with teams, getting better results and designing things of real value for the people that are going to use them.

Because one of my favorite words as a human being is ego, something that I always talk about, as you will know, if you have listened to this podcast already or read my book, Personal Revolutions: A Short Course in Realness, which is basically just about how the ego is not real. If you have become familiar with my stuff, you’ll know that I love that word.

And so that is why I decided that I should have a recorded conversation, a focused conversation about all of the ego stuff with Sara Shawani. So this is a very energetic, free-flowing exploration of what the ego means, how it can hold you back, how it gets in the way, what it even is, how you can recognize it, blah, blah, blah.

There’s loads of cool stuff that you’re about to hear. Hopefully it’s going to help you and add some value as you’re on your own journey to go into wherever it is that you’re going. Sarah, thank you so much for giving me your time and letting me ask you all these questions. Everybody else, hope you enjoy the interview and I’ll see you again next Monday for another episode of Creative Status.

Interview

Oli Anderson: Oh, hi there, Sarah.

How are you today? Thank you so much for joining me today on this episode of Creative Status. You and I share some very similar interests in relation to design and how design can shape the world and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, but also the ego. It’s been said before on this podcast that ego is probably my favorite word because I fling it out there every two seconds.

And so I thought it would be interesting to talk to you about the ego and what you think it is and what you can learn from it, blah, blah, blah, blah. But before we get onto that, do you feel like introducing yourself and telling people what you do, who you are, what you’re all about, and anything else that you want to fling us?

Sara Sherwani: Absolutely. Hi, Oli. You and I have had a very, very deep and interesting relationship, I think, over the last many, many months. And it’s been a pleasure to get to know you and to get to this point where we’re actually jumping on a podcast together.

Oli Anderson: That’s amazing. The feeling is mutual, though. I must tell you.

Sara Sherwani: But I guess for the people that haven’t heard my dulcet tones before, I am, yeah, I guess my name is Sarah Shirawani and I am a coach. I am a designer. I have worked in the world of designing tech products and services for like neuro-linguistic programming, so NLP, which is a study of like the mind and speech.

And I’ve learned a little bit about hypnotherapy along the way. And I use some of that to help the client side of work with across my sort of career. So when it comes to the ego, I feel like I’ve definitely done my homework. And it sort of led me to create a course that I designed called Ego List Design Thinking, which was, I guess, my take on how your ego plays a role in what you design, what you create, and actually the position at which you create from can be derived from your own perception of reality.

Oli Anderson: Wow. So basically, based on what you’ve said, you are very well equipped for me to start asking you all of these questions about ego, what it is, how it shows up in people’s lives, how it holds us back, how it affects the world, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So to get started, I always say to keep it simple, that everything boils down to either wholeness and connection or fragmentation. Wholeness is real.

It’s reality. It’s just the idea that everything is just one big relationship, having a relationship with yourself. And if you can tune into that relationship and flow with it and keep growing and expanding, then you’ll feel good and you’ll probably get what you want from life.

The thing that stops us flowing in that way is the ego, which is just some idea that we’ve picked up that is ultimately the opposite of reality. That’s another thing I love saying, that ego is the opposite of reality, because it fragments our experience of the whole. So as a starting point, this conversation, does any of that even make sense to you? Is it bullshit?

And what do you think about it?

Sara Sherwani: Well, I think the idea of the ego is something that is totally necessary for us to make sense of because it helps us make sense of the world in terms of duality, which is the idea that is the mind can basically only comprehend between two sort of levers or two aspects of itself. So for you to understand what’s high, you need to understand what’s low, for you to understand what’s wide, you need to understand what’s thin.

And so the ego is part of that barometer, that measure stick that helps you recognize a little bit about where your fears are. So the way I always see it is the ego is the part of you that is driven by the spirit of fear or self-preservation. And essentially, I mean, I got that from Marianne Williamson book, where she talks about a return to love and it’s all about the ego and how the ego is in relation to the aspect of God.

And I think when you talk about wholeness, it’s probably connected to that idea of there being this kind of cosmic energy that essentially is the creator. And that energy essentially drives our understanding of what it feels like to be genuinely connected to your spirit.

And I think the ego is one of those things where ultimately this world is full of challenges, is full of things that might make us feel like we fear our reality, but there’s something really special that we can tap into with this idea of wholeness, I think, which is trusting in your ability to be a creator and being that force that could essentially channel that kind of creativity that I think God really put us here to do.

Oli Anderson: Yeah, wow. So ultimately, that’s exactly how it’s here.

So there’s all these different words that we can use for the same experience. The experience is that connection to wholeness. Some people call it divinity, some people call it God, some people call it sauce, whatever it is.

It’s all the same thing. And actually, when you are connected to that, which you are at all times, but when you’re aware of that connection, that’s when you’re in the best space for creating something real, either creating the real version of yourself, creating a real life, creating some real projects. And the only barrier to that in most cases are the mental blocks that come from what we’re calling the ego.

So how can we define the ego a little bit more clearly? Because yeah, we’re agreeing, okay, yeah, it’s about understanding that there’s something inside the human experience that is there to help us survive. It’s fragmented because it’s ultimately about our body. It comes from the body, I think, the ego.

It’s fragmented because our bodies are fragmented, so we can’t experience the whole all at once, unless we have a peak experience where we transcend the limits of our body for just a tiny moment. But anyway, what are some common ways, common ways do you think that the ego shows up in people’s lives? Like how do we know when we’re actually dealing with the ego and not something that is real, if that even makes sense?

Sara Sherwani: Well, I think it essentially rears its head almost in many real world conversations, whether it’s, am I gonna look good today or is my health good? Or what do I wear that’s gonna make me feel like I fit in? And there’s things around how to connect with people and feeling like you’re not good enough in that sense.

I think the ego is essentially the part of you that does manifest that I’m not good enough thought within your sort of mind stream. And it’s just constantly reinforced really through media, through like general conversations through culture. If you’re in the matrix, it sort of leads itself into you being constantly surrounded by power games.

And it’s power games about who’s essentially speaking the loudest, who’s being more recognized, who’s playing the game so to speak. And all of that, I think is where the ego sort of manifests. And it’s one of those things where in today’s world it’s very, very difficult, I think, to stay away from it.

Oli Anderson: Yeah, yeah. Like actually what you’re talking about in a way is the difference between scarcity and abundance. So when we connected to a wholeness in the way that we’ve been talking about, obviously there is only abundance.

Like that wholeness is ultimately where everything comes from and it’s real, it’s whole. So obviously you can’t add to it, you can’t take away from it, blah, blah, blah, blah. But here in the world, because of the way we perceive things because of our bodies and the egos and all the stuff you’ve said, we look at everything as though it’s scarce when it actually isn’t. So in relation to power, we think that, if one person has power, then it takes away from our power.

Or we think that if one person is successful, it takes away from our success or whatever it is. And that comes back again to what you were saying about duality to some extent. So the ego ultimately is just dualistic thinking projected out into the world. And it’s making us think that life is more scarce than it actually is, something like that. And then all of these little power games and dynamics and these strange phenomenon that arise in our lives because of the ego ultimately go back to that. So what is, well, if you agree with that, what is the solution if there is one?

Sara Sherwani: What is the solution? Well, I do think that the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to learning about the ego is that sense of self-awareness. We just talked a little bit around the sort of power games. And when we’re talking about where power is in relation to how we see our reality, we have to actually understand that. when it comes to work or when it comes to even going to get your groceries from the shop, right?

There’s an element of power that plays with the people that you’re interacting with, with certain people who might not want to engage with you for whatever reason. There’s, you’ve got to have a level of self-awareness about your own ego and where some of that work lies. And so there’s so much out there about self-awareness and how you can tap deeper into yourself.

And I think the like meditation is definitely one of those things I’ve been meditating for years and years and years. And for me, that kind of quiet space where you get to hear your inner thoughts and make sense of these thoughts in relation to what reality is. You can start to do some self-work and self-questioning about whether your assumptions of reality are true or not. And I think the ego is basically the, it’s there to create the fantasies. It’s there to create like a misconception of what reality truly is.

Oli: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So that’s what I mean when I say that the ego is the opposite of reality. That’s what I mean. You’re so true. Sorry.

Sara: No, because you’re on the money. It’s just getting to that point where you can actually hear your inner self to the point where you have enough awareness and enough understanding of what it is and how it rules you. Whether it comes to the first seven years of your life, because those first seven years is essentially when your ego gets formed.

It’s a collection of those experiences, whether with your parents, with your friends, with your teachers, in fact, that actually show you a model of reality. That model of reality is constantly reinforcing your perspective of what the ego is and what it means to you. If you saw people around you in a hustle state or being in a scarcity state where they feel like they have to keep going and they don’t have enough, that is going to be ingrained in your psyche on some level.

And you have the ability and also a part of you has the responsibility to start to unpack that. Because if we’re going to be moving away from the kind of reality where we’re just stuck in this merry-go-round or this sort of rat race, then we’re never really going to evolve into our truest and highest potential. And I think we do have a responsibility to learn about ourselves in that way so we can show up in authentic power rather than this falsified power where there’s competing games to see the kind of alpha in the room.

When actually the true alpha is your own spirit and your connection to something beyond.

Oli: Yeah. Okay. So there are so many things that I can try to unpack now based on all this amazing stuff you’ve just shared. Let me try and break it down. So the first thing is what you’re saying about this kind of animalistic subtext that exists between people.

And that is so true. So like obviously with mammals, human beings, a lot of the egotistical things that occur between people in the way that we interact, especially around the kind of power dynamics you mentioned and scarcity beliefs people have around power. A lot of that stuff comes down to the fact that we’re animals.

And at some level, our bodies are constantly comparing the other people around us in relation to who might be an alpha in that particular group or who might have the most power just in terms of physical strength and all those kind of things. And that stuff is always going on beneath the surface and it affects the way that we think. And a lot of the time people don’t even realize that’s going on. So it happens around power, but it happens around sex as well. Like there’s all kinds of subtext between people that is constantly affecting the way that they interact without even knowing about it. So until you become aware of that kind of stuff, you’re always going to be running around on autopilot and you’re going to have that stuff going on along with all the other autopilot programming that the ego puts inside you.

So again, first of all, I want to ask if you agree with that. But then after that, I want to follow the path of awareness and to look at whether or not awareness is just part of the journey. Because I found in my own life, I’m working with clients, awareness is good. It’s the first step. My whole coaching thing starts with that awareness acceptance action.

Awareness is about deconstructing the ego. But if you only do the awareness stuff and you become aware of the animalistic stuff I’m on about and the way that the ego shows up in all these different ways. If you’re only aware of it, but you don’t make changes because of that, then it actually can give you more problems because you end up procrastinating or whatever it is.

Or you’re just so overwhelmed that you don’t know what to do or you feel disconnected from the world. So the two questions are, one, what do you think about this animalistic subtext thing I’m on about? And two, is awareness of these kind of things enough or do we need more?

And if we do need more, what do we need?

Sara: So the animalistic thing is kind of an interesting one, right? Because we do have that prehistoric brain that essentially rules us. And there’s the ideas about how we have a like 10 % of our conscious of our mind is in its conscious state when we’re awake.

So there’s 90 % of what we’re doing, what we’re thinking, how we’re breathing, how we’re standing, how we’re walking that lives in the pre context of our subconscious mind. And so I think a big part of the subconscious mind where a lot of the ego I think resides does live in that kind of place of, is it safe for me to continue? Am I included? Do I feel connected?

And these basically relate to really old neuro pathways within your brain that like kick off like dopamine, serotonin, all those kind of chemicals. And so… I think there’s a part of us that exists where we strive for structure, we strive for connection and we strive for building and growing together. I think that’s an innate human need.

But I do think that there’s ways in which we can start to rewire the ways in which our mind sees the world because maybe it doesn’t always have to mean that I have to give up my needs for other people. Maybe it doesn’t always have to mean that I need to stay in a toxic and abusive relationship.

Maybe it doesn’t always have to mean that I need to deal with a boss that essentially doesn’t really respect me or want to kind of move me forward and is in itself interest. And these kind of situations bring out your inner fears and those inner fears of well, will I be able to go somewhere else? Will I think on a deep intrinsic level, we do want that sense of belonging and that sense of enjoyment.

And I highly recommend people check out some of the work by Caroline Miss where she talks a little bit about how the ego essentially manifests itself. And she speaks about archetypes and how there are different roles that the ego might play to essentially get us to either sabotage ourselves or to be in victimhood about ourselves or to potentially be someone who looks for attention in different kind of ways. And so that understanding of how the ego kind of shows up in different scenarios, whether you play on your kind of faults or whether you are someone who just gets drawn into other people who might be in a more of a power-leaning state.

These are all parts of yourself that you can start to rediscover through the sense of archetypes or these kind of characters that we all play. Because everything that we’re doing and things that we are, the way that we portray ourselves, are based on models that we would have seen on TV, in films, on radio, or just kind of connections that we’ve had. So we’ve got to really start to unpack the stories that are building the characters that we’re showing up as.

Oli: Yeah, that’s amazing. And it’s all interconnected. So there’s this animalistic stuff that we’re talking about that’s driving people unconsciously, like we’re driven by those basic animal needs for belonging, to procreate, blah, blah, blah.

Obviously, that’s all amazing. Like, actually, we need to accept it and embrace it, but we need to be in control of it. If we don’t accept it and embrace it, then there’s going to be no human beings.

So obviously, we need it. But the issue, if you want to call it an issue, is that when we’re not getting what we feel like we need from life, that’s when we lapse into creating this ego, this unreal version of ourselves.

And we use the ego to try and meet the needs that we’re not getting, if that makes sense. So let’s take the example of we have this biological need for belonging. If we feel like we’re not getting that sense of belonging, like we haven’t found our tribe or whatever, that we have that unconscious belief you talked about that I am not good enough, then we basically, we’re driven by shame.

And when we’re driven by shame, that’s when we disown certain parts of ourselves, we create the ego version consciously or unconsciously. And then we take that ego version out into the world.

But because we’re interacting as the ego, not our real selves, that’s when it creates all these kind of dramas that you’re talking about. It creates drama from people being victims. It creates drama from people trying to rescue other people. It creates drama from people being persecutors, all these different things. But when we’re acting out those dramas, it’s purely because we’re trying to get the needs met that the ego is ironically preventing us from meeting, if that makes sense.

So for example, if we feel unconsciously that we don’t belong, that’s when we might start playing the victim or we might start creating other dramatic situations in our lives, purely so we can feel a sense of connection with people through the drama. And so if you can understand that, and those archetypes that you’re playing, you can understand or reverse engineer what your ego is actually trying to meet in a strange roundabout way.

Sara: Yeah, I hear that. I think I once heard a story about a woman who essentially kind of went off into the forest and she said that she kind of didn’t want to connect with anyone. She wanted to kind of live a recluse life. And she went through a level of therapy and she started to discover that actually the reason why she shuts down connection is actually because she’s been self sabotaging to towards actually real connection. And what she really wanted was to have that connection, but ultimately there was a sense of just not feeling connected enough or good enough to be able to realize that.

And that was part of her challenges that she was essentially lying to herself that she didn’t need anyone or didn’t want to connect with anyone, what actually had in mind as told, just didn’t want any like, couldn’t deal with the idea of being rejected again.

Masked this persona and that’s part of what the ego does. It makes you create these characters. And this is why we’re talking about archetypes as a sort of loose subject into the ego, because this is how the ego essentially manifests itself through these characters. And I think as you get older as well, I think the characters tend to change or develop and then get a little bit more ingrained.

And I think it’s really important to keep on your toes about the person that you’re showing up as and the person that you really want to be, because it just takes one move, like day by day, one move in one direction, one move in a kind of that same direction day by day, where these kind of actions become habits and these habits then start to form your character and show up out. you’ve got to be really mindful because the minute you take off your foot off the gas, even just for a few moments, what feels like a few moments, and like a disassociated state, I feel like that’s when, you know, you start to get smacked in the face and the universe kind of says, well, you thought that you were trying to be spiritual and all that, but actually, this is the person that you’re showing up as.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And that’s when you start to wake up and be like, okay, actually, my life needs to go in a very different direction.

Oli: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And that’s another interesting thing. So a lot of the time, I’ve found, like when I’m coaching people, blah, blah, blah, like, I find that people, they try to show up in the world as a certain version of themselves in order to heal themselves and to be more real and, yeah, yeah, no.

But actually, because they haven’t done the work, the version that they’re trying to show up as is has been chosen by the ego. And so actually, it just ends up perpetuating the problem.

So is there a way around that? Like, how do we know that what we’re aiming for is actually something real? And it’s not just a continuation of the ego and all this bullshit that we’re trying to do. I’m trying to overcome transcend.

Sara: Hmm. I personally think that you’ve got to get still enough to really hear your inner desire, and whichever way that your desire sort of shows or demonstrates a will within itself, you’ve got to follow it because at the end of the day, there may be lessons there that you can learn. Yeah. And sometimes it’s such a cliche saying, but it’s so fucking true. At the end of the day, nobody knows.

I don’t think anybody knows. I genuinely feel that you have to go down the road and you learn your lessons along the way that are right for you. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

And you’ll only know until you try to actually walk the path.

Oli: Yeah, this is the thing. So all of these conversations, almost always, are every day. Every coaching session I have, or every coaching relationship always eventually comes down to what you’ve just said ultimately, which is it’s about trust. You have to trust the process. You have to trust life.

You have to trust God, wholeness, whatever word you want to use. It always comes down to that. And actually, the ego is almost always people looking for reasons not to trust unconsciously. They have picked up some belief that you can’t trust yourself and you can’t trust life. And so they create this ego version of themselves. And only if you get that trust, can you start to evolve in the way that we actually need and want to you, which is the evolution towards wholeness is what I call it.

So we’ve said a few times now that it comes down to this first step of awareness. You become aware of the ego. You realize that it’s causing drama in your life. It’s causing friction, frustration, misery.

It’s stopping you getting the results you want. All these things we’ve kind of talked about or alluded to. But to go back to the question I asked maybe 10 minutes ago to me, the awareness stage is just the first step.

Right? That’s what I found because there’s so many spiritual people out there or people on these healing journeys or whatever language one is. There’s so many people out there. They have these awakenings or they become aware. But then they just end up being so open minded that their brains fall out and they just don’t know what to do anymore. They’ve got no direction or they become overwhelmed because they feel like they’re really aware and awake. But they look at the world around them and there’s all these kind of automatons walking around these zombies.

You know, and they just don’t feel connected to the world anymore. So that is not what you would expect this awakening to lead to, right? And it doesn’t actually, I don’t think it does, but for a lot of people they think that’s it. Okay, I’m aware now and that’s it. All my problems are solved. But what comes after that, do you think?

Sara: I think it comes down to learning ways in which you can start to regulate yourself and get to the point where awareness then becomes a seed for action. Or a seed for change. And so that sort of relates to what other kind of forms or things that you can do to actually turn awareness into tangible, real, actionable changes that you can see in your life. And I think part of that can be working with others, working with a coach, working with a mentor, working as part of like a mentoring group. Because there’s no better way, in my opinion, from the work that I’ve done.

Yes, I’ve done loads of journaling, but journaling is just you reflecting on your own inner self from just your vantage point. And so you kind of get surprised, I think, when you’re working with a coach, in that they can see things in you and the way that you’re showing up in the world in different ways than you’ve even seen within yourself. So having almost that mirror, but a mirror that’s coming from a completely different perspective can teach you so much more in the reflection that you have about who you are and how you’re showing up in the world.

Because there’s no better feedback than from someone who’s actually receiving you and your raw, honest, most vulnerable self. So I think that’s one method. But to truly get regulated, it’s the hard work of being able to get your thoughts out there and starting to pick out, okay, what are the belief systems that need to change here? What are the underlying values that I have that’s actually driving my behavior and making me create this kind of maybe false world or false reality?

Like you’ve got to really peel back the layers of what are the pillars or the scaffolding building blocks that are actually creating your model of reality so that you can get to a point of more internal sort of regulation. Because the more you can actually start to manage the trigger, the trigger points are naturally going to happen. It’s normal like families, a big trigger point, a relationship might be a big trigger point.

These are the things that are tapping into your internal sense of self. And when you kind of make sense of how you see yourself, how you view how other people see you, and actually get into unpacking and relearning from maybe unresolved sort of trauma, you’ll start to see more regulation in the way that you show up for work or the way you show up in your finances, the way you show up with your relationship with yourself, because you’ve done that work to relearn essentially your own sort of inner patterns.

And that relearning process sometimes requires going to courses, learning about holistic health, maybe it’s doing like a journaling program, maybe you join a master mind, you’ve got to take yourself out of your comfort zone, learn these lessons about yourself, and start to implement really solid habits that can actually get you to reflect and really look at the kind of person that you’re showing up as.

Oli: I love the idea of self-regulation and I think ultimately what you’re regulating is your relationship with reality, or wholeness or whatever you want to call it. And ultimately, it comes down to the idea that the ego, once again, is blocking your emotional relationship with yourself from flowing in the way that it needs to.

So I always talk about this, but like I always think that the ego and the shadow self are in kind of constant conflict. So the way that it works is short version, like we’re born and everything’s basically all right, but then something happens, like you said in the first seven years, where we become ashamed of who we really are.

And so when we become ashamed, or we made to feel guilty or in the worst cases, we get trauma, that’s when we start hiding parts of ourselves. We hide them in the shadow territory, but they never go anywhere. But in order to hide these parts, we basically put the mask of the ego which is a version of us without these parts, with the disowned parts kind of sent into hiding. And as we go through life, the ego basically is just an attempt to keep these emotions and disowned parts at bay, no matter what. But because they’re real, they never go anywhere.

And so they’re constantly screaming from beneath the surface of our life for our attention to bring us back home. And when we start regulating in the way that you’re talking about, instead of having this emotional stuff kind of scream from beneath the surface, we basically find a way to kind of, you know, it’s like a pressure valve almost, we’re letting the pressure out a bit more evenly. And so these emotions can start to be integrated. And as they’re integrated, we become more whole within ourselves. And then, because we’re less fragmented, we’re putting something real into life.

And so we’re more likely to get something real out of it. And so that regulation phase is really important, because that’s when we ultimately, we learn to accept who we truly are, we learn to accept what life really is, but we’re kind of doing it in a controlled way. So the question for you there is, you know, how do you think this underlying emotional stuff into plays with the ego, but how does it affect our lives as a whole, if it’s just unresolved or however you want to describe it?

Sara: Well, for me, one thing I actually talk about a lot is there’s a bit of a problem, I think, in the business world, especially, in that people are relying on thinking in boxes, thinking in sort of numbers, thinking in straight lines, rather than actually driving themselves to really thinking expressions or thinking empathy orientated sort of ways and actually driving more emphasis on your intuition. And your intuition is seems to be this mystical thing that people have put in a box somewhere and said, oh no, that can’t be real.

And I think that there’s a real disconnect that people are experiencing because of the nature of reality and because of this kind of drive towards logic, where you’re missing a huge part of tapping into the realness that comes from your unconscious and allowing of what it knows to be right and what you innately know to be wrong. And I think part of the journey of getting to a point where you can actually unpack and almost not beat the ego, because I think the ego is one of those things where it’s not necessarily good or bad, it’s a natural part of yourself. And we all have one, and it’s there to serve a purpose. But it’s also there to highlight that there’s actually another form of intelligence that lives within you. And that form of intelligence exists in a way that the ego can’t exactly comprehend. And you’ve kind of got to get to a point where you recognize that your inner self has all the answers that it could possibly need to get to the point of resolving this.

And it sounds like a cop out. But when I do my hypnotherapies, for example, and I’ve worked with clients who’ve had like severe anxieties, they’ve had panic attacks, I’ve worked with people with PTSD, and OCD and that kind of vibe. And what I often find is within those sessions, the more emphasis that you can play on someone really trusting their inner self and allowing their inner self to come through with the answers to whatever problem is presenting, it’s an amazing miracle start to happen when you allow the subconscious mind to come through. And when you’re in a state of hypnotherapy, for example, where there’s no distraction from the outside world, there’s nothing you can be really comparing yourself to other than the pictures that are showing up or the sounds that are showing up within your inner mind.

It’s a really safe place for you to actually see your inner self. start to listen, go deep within and actually trust what’s coming from within you. And I understand that a lot of this sounds woo woo garglar, but until you go down the journey of of tapping into your inner self in that way, it will then start to make a lot more sense. And I do think there’s ways that you can make this come to light like journaling. There’s lots of really cool self discovery journals that are out there. And I think they can play quite a big part in starting to understand that inner self. And of course, there’s aspects of philosophy that you can always dive into like, I don’t know, Socrates or even people like Rumi, because I’ve always found philosophy in poetry is like ways that tend to inspire my inner self about my model of reality because of the questions that are asked.

Oli: I’ve actually got a free journaling thing on my website.  So it’s my website, olianderson.co.uk/journal, it’s got loads of prompts for that kind of thing.

But anyway, the interesting point you made there, again, like anything comes back to the wholeness fragmentation thing. So you’re right, there are two basic kinds of intelligence that we all have access to. I don’t think it’s woo woo, I think it’s just it’s real, right?

Like the unconscious mind, it where our intuition comes from is connected to wholeness at all times. And the ego is a product of the conscious mind basically and the body. And it just thinks in very linear, intellectual, conceptual, fragmented ways. And it’s because it’s a product of fragmented bodies trying to understand the world in a fragmented way. And it turns that back onto the animal or the creature that is using that that system to make sense of life.

So basically, it’s a fragmented way of making sense of things, which tries to make sense of itself in the same way, which is very convoluted sentence, maybe that’s my ego trying to be too clever or something. But anyway, the intuition is just ultimately about connecting back to wholeness.

And when you can do that, that’s when you get the answers that you actually need, because you are going to be taking it outside to some extent what you already think you know, because if you try and understand everything just through the conscious mind, you’re not going to bring anything new into the equation, because the conscious mind is just made up of what you already think you already know.

And so you have to be open to something bigger again than just yourself, it always comes back to that same theme. And I guess again, that goes back to the trust thing. But anyway, do you think, and I think I already know the answer because you kind of mentioned it a little bit, but there’s all this stuff out there, where people say, you know, I went through an ego death, I’m going to kill my ego, my ego will not bother me anymore, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Is that even possible? Because I personally think that’s a huge misconception. And if think if you’re trying to kill your ego and be like really enlightened or whatever, that is actually ego, if you set that up as your goal. But what do you think about that? Just to kind of bring this all together, maybe like, can you kill your ego? Or is that bullshit?

Sara: Hmm. Well, I feel that in my experience, there’s definitely evolutions that I’ve experienced where I feel like the old version of me has died, and like a new version has reemerged. And I’m, I can call that a bit of an ego death, but essentially, it’s just a reinvention of your model or your sense of self. And I think that does happen for all of us. And I think throughout our lives, we’re going to constantly go through these reinventions, these moments where we actually lose that part of our old self.

And again, in a funny way, that can often be driven by the ego, even though it’s kind of death of sorts in that like, even when you become a parent, right, there’s a common thing where people kind of say, well, the old person that I thought that I was is just no longer anymore because of my responsibilities.

Or, you know, if you make big steps to get married, again, that kind of commitment can create a death of sorts. Or if you lose people that are close to you, these essentially shape and affect your model of identity and therefore your model of reality. And so I think the life will constantly throw different versions of this ego death at you, but it’s not a one time thing that occurs.

It will constantly happen. And you’ll constantly have to navigate finding new versions of yourself and actually tapping into your inner creativity, your inner sense of wholeness as you describe it, so that whatever this new reality is that you want to create, it’s embodied with the person that you feel like you want should and be kind of become.

So I kind of think that an ego death is one of those things where you’re going to go through changes, you’re going to go through transformations, and you’ll you will lose a part of your identity is how you navigate that and have that sense of awareness within yourself to mitigate some of those challenges because your old part of yourself was there to be and to serve its own sort of purpose. And this new aspect, whatever this is going to be and however it emerges, is also a part of you that you might want to nurture or rediscover in its own way.

And it deserves your time, it deserves your effort. There’s no greater work than the work that you do with yourself because how you show up and the person that you choose to be, manifest in your community, the people that you interact with, your work colleagues, your family, your friends, your partner, your kids, all of that kind of plays on your sense of self. And you’ve got to work hard to realize what that who that person is that’s going to be showing up tomorrow next week, because we all entirely want to make those changes. I think it’s the it’s the victim, it’s the saboteur, it’s the rescuer. These are the kind of characters within us that kind of fight to keep their place. And so sometimes death of your old self can be a really, really good thing and should be so welcome.

Oli: I think the way that I like to think of it is it’s like a spiral and so you can’t kill the ego in my view because it’s not real. It’s just a it’s a misconception. It’s just an idea that we treat as been real but actually it’s just a filter for reality. It’s nothing real and like as we go through these spirals we learn more and more and more about what’s real about us and so as we go through these changes and we evolve and we let go of one filter i.e. one identity and we replace it with another we still have some kind of an ego because you know we’re always going to have that filter because we always have these fragmented bodies but it becomes something that affects us less and less and less if we trust the process and go with it.

Because as we go through those spirals we let go of fragmentation basically and we just get more and more whole or more and more connected to the wholeness that’s already there as we shed our skin it’s like a snake shedding its skin something like that and ultimately if you can go through that process in a real way and you have the trust to do it then in general you’ll get to that place you were talking about where the ego isn’t affecting your life as much and what you put into your life is going to be a reflection of that so we’ve covered a lot of…

Sara: I’m almost visualizing like dna and how dna sort of spirals as you’re just talking where you kind of traverse through like the different kind of codes that represent i guess who you are and it is it is a you are a constantly evolving piece of work…

Oli: Yeah yeah thank you but it’s because your relationship with reality is constantly evolving like actually you know “Oli Anderson” or “Sara Sherwani” these they’re just concepts out other than we’ve picked up but the experience if you’re doing it right keeps getting deeper and deeper and deeper and then you feel more and more alive until obviously you just die and then nothing matters anyway.

So.. we’ve covered a lot of ground like a lot – I always say that but we actually have – like it’s been a short conversation really 45 minutes we’ve covered loads of stuff how would you sum up all of these things that we’ve been talking about and have you got any final words of wisdom I suppose?

And where can people find you if they want to talk about any of this stuff or learn more about Egoless Design and those kind of thing?

Sara: I’d summarize this conversation as first of all truly enlightening from the perspective of these concepts can never get old because they’re so universal and they’re so essential to how we see ourselves and there will never be any time lost when you’re focusing on who you are and how you show up in the world because it’s these sort of power dynamics that we are constantly interacting with that show us who we are and who we can be and i think there’s no greater work than that and so for me the i guess words of wisdom would be listening to podcasts like this spending time really on your personal development and hearing those stories that show you different perspectives will always be the work that will greatest treasure in my opinion so i would say keep keep at it and you will always start to see that the way in which you see yourself can be more connected to the spirit of wholeness and that spirit of realness as you continue to evolve and i’ve i kind of took that approach in the way that the ego is seen and how you kind of see your ego with design thinking and how you can actually use your sense of self to develop more empathetic more intuitive driven um tech products and services and that’s why um i created that so i would be more than happy to connect with people listening to this and answer any questions i can be found on linkedin and i also have a medium page with a bunch of articles that are written that will hopefully contribute to this body of work that is the ego that we are all contributing to.

Oli: Amazing so i’ll share all your links and stuff in in the show notes i’m so happy that you said this stuff is universal because that’s how i always think about these ideas.

Like, I believe that any human being that has ever existed could learn about these ideas about the ego versus reality and it would add value or have some practical application to their lives because ultimately that idea of ego reality or fragmentation wholeness that is the only issue that anyone is really really dealing with and if you can understand that and trust the process of moving towards wholeness then in general life is just um fucking amazing…

So Sara Sherwani thank you so much for coming on here that was uh I was a bit nervous about talking to you i gotta be honest but i think you were it was amazing so thank you very much.

Sara: Thank you for having me that was actually really really fun so I enjoyed it.

Oli: Thank you and I’ll talk to you again soon but thank you, Sara Sherwani!


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If you're interested in growing REAL, creativity, and living a life that you really want to be living then check out the latest episode of Creative Status - a podcast about deconstructing ego, integrating the shadow, and learning to trust life.


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