Reading time: just over 9 minutes.
A few months ago, I was really pumped to bite my teeth into James McCrae’s book ‘Shit your Ego Says‘. James is a Hay House author, strategist, creative consultant, yogi.
In his book he talks about how he left behind a comfortable life in Minnesota and a successful career in advertising to move to New York City and pursue his dreams of being a writer.
Soon after he arrived, Hurricane Sandy ripped through the eastern seaboard. New York City was underwater, and James was suddenly homeless.
Fleeing to the island of Culebra for refuge, James sat alone on Flamenco Beach while his greatest doubts and insecurities rose to the surface. What he discovered was his Ego – and this began a series of events that lead him to face his Ego and learn from his mistakes – like all best stories do.
I was really excited to get James to discuss more about Ego, creativity and the wonderful power of weirdness.
What’s the worst habit to feed our Ego’s BS?
The worst ego-building habit is simple and yet profound – seeking validation and approval from the outside world instead of looking within to be guided by our own inner truth. When we react to external circumstances, instead of projecting our own vision, reality and purpose outward, we get caught up in all the ego’s traps.
Whenever you feel dragged back in the Ego’s chatter, how do you remove yourself from it?
It’s important to note that nobody – not myself or the Dalai Lama – is above the ego’s influence. It’s build into our DNA. We may have a great week of happy mindfulness and the next day we wake up with the ego talking mad shit. This is normal. And the most important thing we can do is listen. We must become the observer of our own thoughts. Mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation go a long way in helping us identify which thoughts are serving us and which thoughts are not.
Why do you think people relate so well with the “hitting rock bottom” experiences so many authors describe in their journey?
Facing a difficult challenge is usually needed to initiate what Joseph Campbell called the hero’s journey, which is an inner quest to actualize our true self and live according to our higher purpose. Hitting rock bottom can be helpful because it allows us to dissolve the illusions of social conditioning and see the world with fresh eyes.
We’re often too distracted by the expectations of our society to step fully into our own power, so it’s valuable to have experiences that make us question the rules and assumptions by which we live, and this includes experiencing failure. When we are forced to release everything we thought to be true, we create space in our lives to expand into a greater version of ourselves.
What’s the aim of Innerspace Foundation?
The Innerspace Foundation is a non-profit organization committed to finding collaborations and synergies between the worlds of creativity and consciousness. I believe that creativity is a higher form of consciousness, and the art community and the spiritual community would both benefit by sharing ideas, perspectives, and talent.
How do you think social media and the online noise is affecting creativity and the way we tap into it?
Every generation introduces new media which becomes a canvas through which to create. In this sense, social media is no different from the invention of oil paint, photography, or film.
We have started to see people using social media to advance creative expression. But social media, like any tool, can be misused and has the potential to be distracting and drain our focus. So I think it’s important that we look for ways to use all technology, including social media, as a platform to build and create instead of wasting time and chasing social validation.
How do you think creativity can add value to our job (whatever it may be) and vice versa?
I believe strongly that all people, no matter what job they have, can be creative. Creativity is more about mindset than about talent. Being creative means having an open mind, setting aside judgements and assumptions, and allowing ideas to flow through us. Living and working creatively, focused on the magic of the present moment rather than fixating on results, makes us happier and healthier.
Perception is reality. The reality we experience is only as grand as our perception. When we widen our perception, our reality also expands. The first step to expanding our perception is trust in ourselves and in the universe. We need to take a leap of faith into the unknown and trust that we will be taken care of. When we jump beyond our limits we see that reality is greater and more adaptable than we had previously imagined.
What’s one piece of art / creative work / that you think represents the Ego and what it stands for?
The music of Kanye West is an obvious answer, but I love Kanye West so I’m not going to pick on him. I actually believe that all good art, because it comes from imagination, is to a degree egoless. Ego and imagination are opposites. So I would never try to associate art with ego because any art – even self indulgent art – is better than other forms of egoic expression.
Any picture, piece of art, image you’d instead connect to the higher self?
Art that is not afraid to be hopeful and stand for something is art that represents the higher self. It’s easy to be cynical in this world, and art can often paint a picture of despair, victimization, and scorn. I think a movie like La La Land or the music of Chance the Rapper connects to the higher self because they are unafraid to be naive, innocent, and hopeful. It takes courage to show our honest, vulnerable selves to the world because we expect the world to hurt us when we reveal too much. But the best art is boldly vulnerable in spite of criticism and judgement.
How can someone find the beauty in weird every day – I love my weirdness, hence I ask!
All beauty is weird to a degree, because beauty is outside what is normal and expected. To me, weirdness is authenticity. Weirdness is what happens when we stop trying to live up to social expectations and start following the beat of our own inner truth. I think we should celebrate our weirdness, and the weirdness of others, because it reveals something true and authentic beyond the false standards of normal we are taught to believe.