The concept of ego has several connotations, yet is a generally misunderstood concept. In classic psychology, ego is described as the mediator between your desires, your id, and your morals, your super ego. Your id wants to eat all the cookies, but is fighting with your super ego who says it’s absolutely wrong to have any indulgences. Ego steps in and says to eat just enough cookies to satisfy your craving. No more and no less.
In our daily conversation ego shows up to describe someone who we feel is acting as if they are more important than they really are. We say our relative or co-worker, the one who is always bragging about themselves or turning the conversation back on to their accomplishments, is an egotistical maniac. In New Age circles, the ego is the source of all judgement and all negativity in your life and is something to get rid of completely. Your goal is to keep improving yourself and the only way to do that is to completely boot the ego. The ego becomes something to be ashamed of.
My favorite explanation of ego comes from Buddhist texts and practices. It describes ego as that part of your personality that you create for yourself. Your ego is the voice you hear narrating your day and telling you that you aren’t good enough, strong enough, pretty enough. It tells you everyone else is so much better at everything and you are incompetent for not measuring up. Sometimes it puffs us up and creates self-importance, but mostly it just gives us pain and confusion. This is the part we want to release.
When we can let go of this false image of ourself and start to see the ego as the cause of our suffering, when we stop clinging to this self-created identity, we relax and step into our fullest self. And that’s when the magic happens.
And then your ego disappears…
Suddenly, you realize that the angry email from a co-worker has nothing to do with you and you can simply blow away the angry words. You stop thinking that the person who cut you off in traffic is only trying to piss you off, and you simply hang back and let them be. You realize that your friend’s unasked for advice is only their discomfort showing and you simply thank them for their thoughts. You magically step out of your self-imposed story about who you are and how the world is and become an observer, like Jane Goodall studying the chimpanzees.
You become Jane and everyone around you turns into a wild chimpanzee, running around and chattering. You simply observe and notice, and through this simple practice you see the world in a new way. And once you have a new view, nothing is ever the same again.
*For more discussion and to learn how to release the parts of your ego that don’t serve you, join us for a live online course.