I get a lot of questions and see plenty of confusion about the Ego. Maybe this is your first time reading about the Ego or perhaps you use this term a lot and have a good understanding. Either way, I invite you to see how the definitions provided in this post sit with you on this very important subject.
There are many different ideas, theories and definitions about the word Ego. The ‘word’ Ego is Latin for ‘I’. The investigation of ‘I’ has travelled down many different rabbit holes across every culture on our planet. And as such, the ‘I’ or ‘Ego’ can point to very different things. Most definitions agree the Ego is our sense of ‘Self’ or ‘I’, yet who this ‘I’ is, seems to vary a lot.
If you do a basic google search, you will find the Ego is often associated with one’s sense of confidence, worth and value, which can be something you have too much of, i.e. ‘she has a big Ego’ or not enough of, i.e. ‘he needs an Ego boost’.
Psychoanalytical theory refers to the Ego as a mediation point between the conscious and unconscious mind that supports us to integrate the ‘hidden’ desires of the unconscious mind with the practical demands of the ‘real’ world.
Some say it is a ‘portion’ of the human personality, and others say it’s the devil in each of us.
There are different attitudes toward the Ego. Some say we must have an Ego otherwise we are likely to become mentally ill. Others say the Ego is the reason we have mental illness in the first place and we must transcend it.
Feeling confused yet…?
I want to share with you my understanding of Ego, which comes from the perspective of healing, authenticity, freedom, truth and discovering who you really are.
Let’s start with what the Ego is not?
Due to the limitations of language, using the word Ego sounds like you are talking about ‘something’ or ‘someone’ inside of you and others.
People often say:
“Don’t say that, she’ll get a big Ego”
“He must have a big Ego to reject you like that…”
“I don’t like that workplace, too many Egos”
“That breakup was a blow to my Ego”
“I have a healthy and balanced relationship with my Ego”
“The poor Ego gets such a bad rap”
“The Ego is evil”
The way in which the word Ego is used in these common expressions turns the Ego into a ’thing’. When I use the word Ego, I am pointing to a misperception of who you are, which you will later discover is the root cause of all human suffering…
This is the definition of Ego I work with:
And furthermore, those ‘things’ have become more valuable than who you actually are.
I use the word ‘things’ because we can identify with literally anything, which means to add ‘things’ to our sense of self. We do this by putting ‘I am’ before the ‘thing’ we have identified with. What follows ‘I am’ becomes a ‘self description’.
I am my….(insert the ‘thing’ identified with)
- Roles (husband, wife, doctor, friend, Australian, Christian, etc.)
- Job titles
- Relationship status (single, married, divorced)
- Likes & Dislikes
- Emotional states (depressed, anxious, angry, jealous)
- Trauma and wounds
- Personality traits and temperament
- The body
- The mind
None of these are who you are fundamentally and yet most people spend their entire lives creating a false sense of self out of them, which means to derive you’re worth, value, confidence, belonging, love and acceptance out of these things.
How can we prove these ‘things’ are not who you are?
It’s very simple. Look over the above dot pointed list and ask yourself.
Have you ever put ‘I’ in front of any one of these ‘self descriptions’ but the description has changed or is no longer with you right now?
- Have you ever said, ‘I believe….’ but now what you believe has changed?
- Have you changed your name or know someone who has. Did you or they vanish with the change of the name?
- Have you ever identified with an emotional state that no longer exists or is continually changing on a daily basis?
- Have you noticed memories about yourself fade and yet you are still here?
If you say, ‘I am a doctor’ and this has become your sense of self, when the job ends do you end with it? Of course not, the job may end and you still remain (and yet many people have committed suicide when a role ends, which reflects how deep this delusion is).
So if I am none of these ‘things’ then who am I? (you might be thinking)
This is the natural question that arises when you actually understand what Ego is, which is to say, when you discover what you are NOT.
Then you are ready to ask the age-old question – Who am I?
Who is the ‘I’ that precedes all the labels and self descriptions I associate and identify with as ‘me’ or ‘mine’?
We don’t often ask this question due to fear and also not knowing ‘why’ and ‘how’ asking this kind of question would benefit your experience of life (it can all feel too big and complicated).
Furthermore, asking the question ‘who am I’ would be to admit, you don’t know who you are beyond the conditioned and ever changing ‘idea’ of yourself that is made up of ‘things’.
This realisation can be shocking. It takes a great deal of humility and wisdom to accept that who you thought you were was no more than a string of assumptions.
It is for this reason, the question ‘Who am I’ usually (but not necessarily) comes to those who are fed up with suffering in their lives.
It happens when you are truly prepared to look. Like a child afraid of the boogie man under the bed, the only way to transcend this illusion is to go under the bed and ‘look’ to find nothing is there to be afraid of.
And this is what the ‘I’ actually is – No-Thing. It is the zero point, the spacious, silent and unchanging dimension in which everything in reality arises.
This no-thingness is commonly referred to as:
- God nature
All of the above point to awareness. The universe or ‘existence’ is by nature self-aware. Human ‘beings’ have the capacity to discover this. The Ego governs a human’s perception until they discover themselves as ‘awareness’ itself, which is to realise the ‘I’ beyond what the bodymind vehicle and personality identify with.
Therefore, the Ego is the state that arises in the absence of Self-awareness. Most of humanity is waking up to this.
We have yet to recognise our fundamental nature is awareness itself.
Unlike the Ego, the true ‘I’ or ‘self’ is not an object or thing. It has no form or shape or size. It doesn’t begin here and end over there. It is not a process of the mind. There is nothing beyond it. And there is no distance between you and it – because it is you.
These words are meaningless without first-hand experience, which is the purpose of the ‘Wake Up Experience’.
Why does Ego cause suffering?
The Ego is a state of fundamental lack, since no-thing (after the ‘I’) can deliver or amount to who you really are. This feeling of lack leads to a knee-jerk reaction to keep ‘add’ing more things to your false sense of self, with the idea that once you reach a certain point you will be complete, happy, loveable, accepted etc.
But everything ‘added’ is changing, meaning it is unstable. It only takes a bit of life experience to know this. But in the absence of knowing who we really are, we keep trying to make what is inherently unstable, stable. We try to control, manipulate and compensate for it, which only results in a perpetual underlying state of not being at ease.
The feeling is ‘I am not enough’.
This feeling and every action that comes from it creates a world of hurt – it is a self-fulfilling prophecy that no achievement or life circumstance can mask.
The uncomfortable feeling of lack is masked by addictions and distractions that only serve to generate more suffering.
The Ego state is a downward spiral and the only way out is in. By discovering the ‘I’ beyond the delusional Ego state you become effortlessly at home again.
This is the purpose of Self Intelligence, to transcend the Ego state by discovering who you really are.
How does Ego show up?
There are many ways in which the Ego presents in our lives. Here is a very brief list to contemplate where this shows up in your experience and how this causes suffering in your life:
- Taking life personally
- Relationship drama
- Chronic health issues (mental, emotional, physical)
- Body image issues
- Poor boundaries
- Addictions and distractions
- Blame (victim mentality)
- Fear of loneliness
- Fear of boredom
- Fear of rejection and humiliation
- Fear of failure
- Toxic emotional states
- Unresolved trauma
Can you relate?
We didn’t get taught this stuff at school. We didn’t get the subject of ‘I’ or were provided the skills and habits that transcend the Ego state that causes un-thinkable suffering in our lives.
This is the purpose of Self Intelligence, to give you the education, experience, skills and habits that free you from the inside out.
If this resonates with you, take the first step today and join me for a Free LIVE event called the ‘Wake Up Experience’.