What is Ego? In common speak we refer to one’s ego as their sense of pride or confidence in themselves. “He has a huge ego” would indicate someone that we tend to think of as rather conceited, or someone that believes they are better than the people around them. But in spirituality-speak we refer to ego as the very necessary, yet sometimes limiting component of our beings that encapsulate our humanness. It is the ego that allows you to “be” a person, with a name, a life, a personality and a sense of self that is separate from the pure source energy from which we all came.
We see it at play all day every day, and many spiritual teachers encourage us to release our ego fully in order to become one with the great “I AM”, or our spiritual selves, but I think that’s sort of missing the point of being human. The problem is that often our thoughts and emotions are driven by subconscious needs of the ego to validate or protect itself, and if you haven’t yet remembered that you are source energy, focused into a physical body for the purpose of experiencing human life, your ego may be taking over and exerting it’s will where it shouldn’t be. Having conscious awareness of when your ego is causing behaviours or feelings in you is a very powerful thing. It means you’ve awakened enough to know that some of the thoughts you think and some of the emotion you feel is NOT the REAL you, it is your ego. It can be easier said than done, but when you reach that level of awareness it’s freeing and brilliant and you’ll never go back to living under the veil of ego.
That’s not to say that you’ll suddenly, metaphorically open your eyes and never again express some human ego. It’s more of a gradual unfolding, the process will likely last the rest of your life as you identify how things that make you feel angry, self-righteous, jealous, victimized etc. are all trappings of the ego in it’s attempt to protect the small individual consciousness that feels separate from all encompassing source energy.
As I said, ego isn’t all bad and I don’t think it should be treated like the enemy, but it certainly can limit us in our joy, clarity and purpose. It is wise to be on the look-out for the ways that your ego plays a role in your day to day life, your relationships and your ability to give and receive love.
I see ego in my life in lots of ways and when you look, you’ll see it in yours too. For example, when I’m at CrossFit, which is like a hard-core fitness program that is done with a group of people, it’s my ego that pushes me to work hard and not look like a slacker. It is my sense of self and ego that wants to be fitter, stronger and faster, and it’s the group atmosphere, where others might notice that about me that drives me to do as much work as I can, as quickly as I can, which is the mantra of CrossFit. Is that a bad thing? Not at this point. If my ego helps me become more physically fit and I don’t experience negative emotions as a result, I would let that drive of the ego be. On the other hand, if I become obsessed with being the best, or if I beat up on myself when I’m not as fast, strong and fit as the person working out beside me, now my ego is getting the better of me and it’s time to pay attention. It’s a fine line, but knowing that gives you the power to free yourself from ego if it gets out of hand.
Very often the ego will be so insidious that you won’t even be aware of it. The significant relationships in your life are HUGELY affected by ego. Is there someone in your life that always has to be right? Is it you? I remember saying, “I can’t help it if my ideas are just better than yours” and honestly believing it. I recognized that about myself about five years ago, and I still play that ego dance. Now I have the conscious awareness that my ego is leading when I’m in the middle of that dance, and I can usually stop, take a breath and ask my deeper self if it’s really important that I’m right. More times than not, it’s really not important, so I let it go and then everyone feels better. I also know that there are likely just as many times, that I don’t even notice when my ego is leading. That’s the point of evolution. One by one you notice the ways your ego limits your joy, you let it go and then you find yourself closer to who you really are, your great “I AM” that is your soul.
One of the places that I’m exploring ego now is in my spirituality. It’s funny to think that there would be ego in spirituality. Isn’t that the whole point? To blend spirituality with humanness by releasing ego? Yes, I think so. Yet there it is, my ego saying things to me like “I’m more spiritual than that person” or “they just don’t get it”. Ironically, my ego now wants me to be the BEST at being spiritual. Twisted. In fact, it is that very drive that is causing me to write this article. Hold on, this gets deep. When I write the article revealing how I’ve discovered that my ego is driving my spirituality, I show others (ego is ALWAYS about you vs. others) how spiritual I really am, and ironically, how egoic I am at the same time. Be aware, ego is at play, even if you don’t think it is. The simple act of noticing it causes a new awareness of yourself as the observer and diffuses it.
So, the next time you’re in conflict with someone or something, stop, take a look inside and see where it’s coming from. If it feels like you have to be right, it’s probably your ego. If it feels like you’re being mistreated, it’s probably your ego. If it feels like you’re being disrespected, it’s probably your ego. Do yourself a favour, notice it, ask yourself if it’s really important in the grander scheme of being happy and let it go. It’s all about having a good time while we’re here in these physical bodies. Remember who you REALLY are and life instantly feels better.
Ellie Steele teaches clients and readers how to find and release their self-imposed limits so they can have happier, healthier, more genuine lives. www.EvolutionWellness.ca