Most people condemn the ego. It’s often considered as something that must be be suppressed or subdued. Gaining an understanding of what the ego is and how we can use it in a positive way is a process of self-discovery that can add depth to life.
Perhaps the best way is to explain the ego in terms of duality. Our ego was created, and is maintained, by the belief that we are ‘separate’ individuals. In other words, your ego believes that you are firmly here, and other people and everything else is firmly there. You have a body, life, and personality distinctly different from others. It is finite. For survival it needs to be accepted and liked, even admired by others. It also constantly compares itself and often has a distinct need to come out on top.
That’s why the ego can act out of fear and may hold a pattern of ‘nothing is ever good enough’. The ego is never satisfied for long and has a tendency to search for approval and self-righteousness.
Early in the year 2000 as a divorced single parent, new in town, with no support system and self employed, I was close to breaking down. My ego voice was spurring me on and pushing up all kinds of fearful thoughts. One November a little voice inside me offered some relief: “Stop living in fear, save your fears until next year. Until then – just live…” A few days later, drinking tea and gazing through my kitchen window at Table Mountain I thought to myself: “I could live like this!” The paradox of this moment hit me almost immediately. “But I am living this way right now!” That realisation broke my debilitating cycle of fear, and opened up a new life path for me.
The ego is the more conscious ‘thinking’ and ‘worrying’ aspect of who we are. It relys on the stimuli it gets through our senses. By playing devil’s advocate it has a wonderful ability to assist us in daily life helping us to be safe. When we perceive situations through negative programming we fuel insecurities, fears and feelings of unworthiness. That’s when we use our ego negatively. The ego does not have the ability to test our programming for accuracy – it simply acts on it. So it is up to us to give the ego positive feedback. The ego’s job is to protect itself and if our internal belief is that life is hard the ego may strive to ‘conquer’ life by attempting to be superior, to dominate others and keep accumulating wealth and possessions. All this is indicative of egoic insecurity. When we realise the ego is simply a tool – everything can change. Stopping for a moment and realising we can use the ego as we wish we get to see that the ego is not good or bad. It simply is. We can liken it to a knife which can be used positively for life saving surgery or to kill.
Becoming aware or mindful of this inner drive and approaching it with a sense of curiosity rather than criticism – we wake up to the fact that there is more to us than the ego. What is the ‘more’, we may ask. This question triggers a journey of discovery beyond the perception of separation.
In understanding more about ourselves, courage, honesty and a willingness to test our belief systems is required. Since we learn the language of the ego from an early age and to a large degree it is the language of the world we live in, the conditioned voice of the ego seems very convincing.
When we bypass the ego we find moments of pure consciousness – a discovery of truth, which can be liberating, peaceful, compassionate, expansive and loving. Outside of the ego we connect to our true innate drives, our passion and purpose. These insights can sometimes seem contrary in a world where we witness competition, violence, hatred and oppression. Conditioned beliefs and the monkey chatter of the mind are like the great tricksters that can keep us in rules set by others.
Life invites us to examine two aspects of being: our ego which operates according to what we feed it, and our true self, which is infinite, loving, abundant and connected with everything. When we come to a point where we can identify which of our desires is fuelled by ego and which by purpose it becomes easier to work with ourselves and others and to reach deeper understanding and eliminate false beliefs. We can then appreciate the ego when it drives us towards new accomplishments. This is the path to a fulfilling life – the path of claiming your truth.
ABOUT CLAUDIA KLEIN
Claudia Klein is a well-known and published Hypnotherapist with expert knowledge in Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy and complementary holistic approaches.