me and my dog Lucy, in the mountains of Panama, making a “life requirements” list.
There I was, sitting in my living room, downloading my favorite
weekly audio horoscope. (Yes, sometimes I’m “woo” like that.)
This horoscope always blows me away. Every week.
And there is always a question to ponder towards the end.
And this week’s questions came…
“This week, Lisa, I want you to get really clear on the difference
between knowing what your soul wants… or what your ego wants.”
That one really left me thinking.
Not because I’m not doing what my soul wants.
And not because I have no awareness of when my ego is in play.
But because the ego is such a tricky little sucker, that I find
I constantly have to go back into myself and make sure I am making
choices for the right reasons. Especially as my influence, visibility
and impact increase.
And recently, I’ve been talking to and witnessing a lot of entrepreneurs,
(friends or current/potential clients) artists and other visionaries who
are being massively shaken up and are questioning why they started
their businesses/projects in the first place.
The Dark Night Of the Soul
I’ve seen, over the years, friends and colleagues start a business
or a movement and then a year or two later, there is a common
existential crisis that comes about…
Person builds successful venture, becomes “famous” and suddenly,
has a major crisis/dark night of the soul… questions who their real
friends are, questions everything they are doing and whether or not
they want to do it anymore, sometimes drops off the face of the Earth
or moves to Bali, Thailand, Latin America… or insert country here.
Then said person comes back with a whole new plan, whole new
business or… doesn’t come back at all and quits.
I see the same pattern in Hollywood, too. A star’s sudden rise to fame
leaves them unable to cope with the responsibility it brings.
Instead they turn to drugs, alcohol, sex and the like — or burn out
and end up in rehab, questioning everything.
And then there’s this super interesting little nugget:
Do you know what one of the most common fears I hear from you is?
It’s that you feel called to do something and that makes a big impact in
the world. But you’re terrified that when you get to that level of success,
you won’t be able to handle it and everything around you will crumble.
Tell me… why is this happening to SO many people?
That’s where that genius question from my horoscope comes in.
Two years ago, I went home to visit family for Easter week.
I got sick and had a breakdown of epic proportions.
I laid in bed, unable to do anything except stare up at the
ceiling and wait for the latest fever-induced hallucination to pass.
I remember crying my eyes out, deeply unhappy over what I had
built with my business.
I felt so held back and miserable because there were things I
really wanted to say that I could not say within the current
niche and audience that I had built for myself. I was rapidly
changing, leaving me terrified that I had built something that
couldn’t change with me.
I called up a friend. Through sobs, I told her, “I quit.”
When I first started my business, I was an actor in NYC working
a job at a financial firm to pay my bills. An actor friend of mine
told me that she had become a coach and it supported her enough
that she didn’t have to work day jobs anymore. Instead she could
go to her auditions whenever she wanted. I decided to look into it.
I was excited that I’d be able to be my own boss AND help people
at the same time (vs. the day jobs I was working which sometimes
felt meaningless). I jumped in with both feet and gave it my all.
But I was so distracted by the bright shiny object that it was to have
my own business, desperately needing this to work so that I’d never
have to work another crappy day job again…
and okay, I’ll admit… a little caught up in the “illusion” of celebrity
guru-ship that is so pervasive in the entrepreneurial world as
we’re trying to get seen and heard…
that I made the big mistake that most people make.
It’s the mistake that is making all of those celebrities, entrepreneurs
and visionaries have those major “come to Jesus” moments and totally
break down at some point in their careers.
I forgot to ask my Soul what I truly wanted to create.
As a result, I created something that was somewhat Soul-driven,
but also something that was really being driven by what my ego
And that’s when it got really interesting…
The Crucial Difference Between Soul and Ego
Now I’m not raggin’ on the ego.
I think the ego gets way too much hate these days.
There is nothing wrong with having an ego.
And you can try to eliminate your ego all you want, but that would
be a futile (and stupid) pursuit. Your ego is an integral part of you.
If it weren’t for your ego, you wouldn’t bathe, dress or take care of
yourself every day.
If I was only doing 100% of what my Soul wanted me to do, I’d be
working for free, all hours of the day and getting totally depleted
with no money to pay my rent or buy food and eventually die.
So we need the ego. It’s not inherently “bad.”
But just like we can’t build something solely on Soul’s desires,
we also can’t build something largely on ego’s desire.
The ego is delicate.
A lot of your deep, unhealed wounds reside in your ego.
It has attachments to the way it wants things to be…
It has fears about there not being enough in the world for all…
It feels deeply unworthy and needs lots of attention to feel worthy…
It thinks the more famous it gets, the more you will finally feel loved.
It escapes into sex and short-lived relationships to avoid dealing
with unhealed mother/father-wounds…
The ego will tell you to get dressed and take a shower so that
you don’t stink to high hell and feel good about yourself, yes.
The ego will tell you that you should charge good money for
doing your Soul’s work and that is a very good thing…
But the ego will also tell you that the only way to be happy
is to have ‘x’ amount of money or ‘x’ amount of fame.
It will tell you to ignore the voice of your truth in favor of
doing what’s safe and what will make you more likeable.
The ego will tell you to write a blog post that will get people
to worship you, fall in love with you and look at you as their guru,
instead of just being yourself and serving your people.
The ego needs external validation.
And it will trap you in an endless cycle of seeking more
and more validation. It will never be enough.
The ego is shaky and wobbly.
It is not what you want driving the soul of your business.
It’s not the foundation upon which you want to build your empire.
Basically, it’s like building a 65 floor building on top of a
That thing is going to crash, sooner or later and it ain’t
going to be pretty.
Because the nature of the Universe is one of unconditional love.
And you bet your butt that if you’re out of alignment with your Soul,
the Universe (which is really You) will come along and do whatever it
needs to do to make sure you are doing what is aligned with your
That’s what happened to me.
That’s what has happened to many, many artists, entrepreneurs
visionaries, celebrities, etc…
That’s what creates the Dark Night of the Soul.
How to wake up from the nightmare.
So how do we avoid this altogether?
If you’re in the Dark Night of the Soul, how can you get out?
First, I think that this is, in many ways, unavoidable.
When you’re truly committed to always asking yourself that
question, “Does my Soul want this or does my ego want this?”,
you will always be peeling back more layers of yourself and
reach deeper levels of truth within yourself that you never even
knew were there.
At times, some of these truths will cause mini-earthquakes within
your being and you will see places where what you created may
not be totally in alignment with who you are.
There’s a natural upheaval that happens here, just like soil needs
to be upheaved to be aerated, so things grow better in it.
So if you’re committed to a path of expansion within yourself
and in the world, you will probably have many “mini” dark nights
of the soul where you question things and change things up.
But just in case your ego does get out of control and you do find
yourself crashing down based on the faulty foundation with your
ego provided when you began to build your vision/business…
Here’s what I did to get out of it:
1) Get real and get fed up.
The night I “quit” my business I let myself get fed up with the way
that I was doing things.
I had to get real honest with myself about where I was full of BS.
Where what I was teaching was not what I was actually doing.
Where I was lying to myself.
I had to get really fed up with compromising the things I longed
to say to my community because I was afraid of losing
half of my audience or becoming less popular when I started
to speak what my Soul really wanted me to say.
At first, I did lose a lot of subscribers.
My income dipped down to 1/2 of what it was for about 3 months.
It was scary and I really had to cut down on my expenses.
That was a whole other Dark Night of the Soul.
But at the end of those 3 months my business suddenly exploded.
All of those people who weren’t aligned with me anymore went away.
And I was left with a roaring fan base of people who kept emailing
me and thanking me. For the first time in a long time, someone
was actually telling the truth that they had been starving to hear.
So feel it all baby, get angry, get real about where you are.
Let that anger fuel you to never let your ego rule your business again.
2) Commit to working on your shadow/blind spots.
We all have stuff that is in our blind spot.
And if we are avoiding it or simply don’t see it, it can rule us
unconsciously, influence many of our actions without us realizing it
and in general make us miserable.
I see a lot of entrepreneurs saying, “well, I’ve arrived, I don’t need
a coach anymore.” I think that’s a grave mistake.
There’s always stuff we don’t see.
The more we commit to unveiling it, the more we can make sure
that the things we put out there are coming from our Soul.
Not the unseen wounds and triggers of our unstable ego.
This is a whole other blog post, but as we start to gain more
influence, our actions hold greater responsibility.
People out there are hanging on your words and taking them
to ear. They will take action based on what you say.
So make sure that when you’re guiding people, it’s not from
the wounded place of the ego and instead, from the liberated Soul.
When you’re in a position of leadership or expertise, you
have the potential to cause great damage if your ego is
driving you but you’re unaware of it.
3) Surround yourself with a no-BS tribe.
I have several people I check in with several times a month.
The question I always ask them is: hey, do you think I’m being
a total, egotistical jerk about this?
If I notice my ego starts to think I’m better than someone else or
my ego gets upset that someone didn’t pick me for an interview
or that I’m needing at least 54 likes on a FB status for me to feel good…
I simply text these people and out myself.
And I’ve given them strict instructions to always tell me, with love
if they ever see me being an egotistical maniac.
It works amazingly well and keeps my ego in check.
People who want to agree with me all the time make me weary.
I want to surround myself with people who will challenge me
to be my truest, most authentic, most high potential self.
That’s the only way to keep growing into our greatness.
4) Understand that this is not about you, it’s about THEM.
As good as it might feel to your ego to get the accolades, the invites
to VIP parties, to have the photos that show you’re hanging with the
“in crowd” or emails from raving fans…
none of that means anything.
What matters is this:
are you serving the world?
Are you helping the people that need what you have to offer?
It’s not about Facebook likes.
It’s about the faces of the people you are helping and whether
or not you are actually helping them transform their lives.
It’s not about how many people you can get to think you’re
an amazing person, lover, girlfriend or husband with that blog post.
It’s about who your project is helping.
5) Be real and don’t lie
If you haven’t mastered something, be real about it with your tribe.
Don’t pretend you’re a master of something that you aren’t.
Don’t talk with authority about things you haven’t experienced.
People who cover up that they are out of alignment or who
lie to their tribe, create a personal hell for themselves.
Because you know that you are getting the attention of your
tribe based on a total lie. Eventually you start to feel trapped
in this lie that your tribe believes about you, and then you start
to resent the people who keep you in business.
Because you have to be someone you’re not to keep the lie up.
Just be real.
If you don’t know how to be in successful relationships,
don’t say you do.
If you are in debt, don’t admonish people for having it.
You get the picture.
So tell me, have you had a Dark Night of the Soul?
I’d love to hear all about it and how you came out of it?
What arose from that incident?
And if you’re in a dark night of the soul right now,
share with us so the community can rally around you
and support you!