Whenever we embark on an advocacy or outreach project for civic engagement a healthy dose of self-awareness is helpful. Our self-awareness can start with acknowledging our feelings, underlying needs, passions, motivations, recurrent patterns/triggers, misconceptions developed in childhood that influence how we perceive, etc. Many spiritual traditions share a conception of an ego/lower self and a higher self — or a clay, i.e., earthly nature, and an angelic nature. Regardless of our religion, spiritual path, or lack thereof, we can benefit from considering which part of ourselves we’re coming from. We suggest periodically setting aside time to engage in self-awareness practices.

  • Consider (or journal about) these questions:
    - What am I feeling? Needing?
    - Does this feeling and underlying need relate to something I feel passionately about? If so, what passions are at play here?
    - Have I felt this way before? Rarely or repetitively? Does the present scenario relate to something in my past?
    - Which of the following statements best fits my current state?
    I want what I want.
    I want what you want.
    I want what we want.
    I want what is in the highest for all beings.
    - Given all of the above, what is my best sense of whether I’m operating from my ego/lower self or higher self? If I were to guess, would I say that I’m operating from my mind, my heart, or my soul?
  • When you have a sense of coming from your ego rather than your higher self, set the intention to connect your ego with your higher self. Think of your ego as a dear friend — a friend who can help and support you, and who can also get you into a lot of trouble. Approach your ego as if you’re talking to this friend about where to go and what to do. Agree to something your ego wants, like eating a bowl of ice cream or watching a favorite show, and require in exchange doing something that feeds your heart and soul -- like fasting, sleeping/eating/talking less, going on retreat, or doing some other form of worship or spiritual practice. (Be honest with yourself about what feeds your heart and soul deeply, and give yourself that.) Take an action that helps calm your ego, while keeping in mind what your ultimate, highest goal is. Take an action that moves you toward that goal.
Habib Todd Boerger in Practicing Democracy through Advocacy and Outreach