By Eddie Lijima
What kind of impression and reaction do you get when someone utters the word “ego”? How does your body react? My survey shows that the vast majority have negative presumption about it. Some of them responded with sour expressions. It confirmed my suspicion that people tended to equate the word with some personality trait we sneer at. It appears as though we were conditioned to think that way. This misconception, or distortion, had nagged me so much that I was compelled to take a stab at the myth and reclaim the true esoteric meaning of the ego.
In spiritual teachings, defeating the I-world is one of the central principles. Ego is the enemy we must conquer. Ego is the dragon we must slay in order to reach enlightenment. In short, ego has gotten bad a rap. But how did it get that way?
How Ego Became Vice Besides the age-old condemnation, the word ego has become synonymous with egotistical monsters people felt within. And those experiences shaped their thinking which was further perpetuated by the mass that fed them the message. People are described as egotistical when they insist on getting their own ego needs met. The keyword here is Ainsist@. It implies one’s excessive self-interest and promotion; which has become habitual. Those domineering souls constantly strive to have their egos boosted, thus they aggressively seek approval. They can also have an obsessive drive to take center stage.
When the ego-structure is over-emphasized, it debilitates one’s social skill. Ego-overdrive allows little room for cooperation with others. Such individuals may refuse to see other’s points of view, acknowledge other’s feelings and needs or be totally oblivious to it all. Somehow we came to believe ego is the culprit. That bad ego, what are we going do with it? Guard against it at all cost. But don’t we all have ego? If we were born with it, why do we want to deny it so much?
I can’t state that all egos are inherently good. That would be a naive notion. I have seen many individuals with innate challenges associated with their egos. But I do feel the misconception has spread and is misleading us. My point is, the word ego does not automatically point to egotistical. Egotistical refers to an ego that has been inflated beyond healthy boundaries. Or you can say ego is misdirected with poor judgment. Let’s be clear of the distinction and see where it leads us.
What is Ego
Think of the sun in the solar system. Without it, no life would exist. The sun is the almighty, life-giving force. It is the center of the universe. Ego governs the same ruling regime in our personality makeup, for it is the direct product of our core essence and is the closest to our hearts. Ego represents will to be underlying the self and the focal point. It also symbolizes the strength of self as well as the life-generating creative potential in all of us. I might also add that discovery of this personality core is the pathway to self-development and personal glory. What’s more, one distinct function of ego is to help us establish ourselves as individuals with the definition it provides.
Just as the planets rotating around the sun, ego has subpersonalities revolving around it. You can imagine ego as wearing multi-layers of colorful fabrics. Energy exchanges among those sub-personas are ruled by and further blended with the ego structure that oversees. Ego is also subject to modifying influences.
What Constitutes Healthy Ego
Healthy ego suggests an ability to integrate and orchestrate those urges of sub-personas that make up the whole. But the ego dynamics alone isn’t enough to perform the task, let alone guide us through our quest, for ego can be deficient of moral and sound judgment. Ego isn’t perfect! What’s crucial here is that we possess the type of nonjudgmental awareness I call Supreme Consciousness.
Such mental state is ultra clear, observant and without any attachments to the I-world. It rises above all our preferences and biases. It is simply noticing. Welldeveloped ego indicates self-assuredness as well as self-respect. Therefore, it sets boundaries with others and won’t allow itself to be anyone’s doormat. True confidence radiates from individuals who have come to know themselves and accepted themselves. And this inner knowing serves as another integral part of an evolved ego.
The flip side of the coin would be arrogance and vanity. Dwelling on the ego-self can bring conflicts with others, because he or she refuses to budge, failing to resolve issues through cooperation. As mentioned earlier, it can severely restrict your social life. Bare in mind, even the most fiercely private souls need people deep down. The bottom line is that we are social creatures.
To counter selfishness, try to synthesize your intense awareness of ego-needs with cooperation spirit. Egotistical way breeds ceaseless struggle and pain, therefore one is never content. Take a break from relentless chase to satisfy your every ego-desire. When misguided, ego can become defensive of its attachments, too and that builds walls between you and others.
Be aware of these pitfalls. Pausing to keep our egos in check periodically can prove beneficial
Egotistical ways breed ceaseless struggle and pain, therefore on is never content. Take a break from relentless chase to satisfy your every ego-desire. When misguided, ego can become defensive of its attachments, too and that builds walls between you and others. Be aware of these pitfalls. Pausing to keep our egos in check periodically can prove beneficial! Remember that confidence draws people to us while over-confidence turn people away.
Ego is your backbone. It stands with distinction in your personal universe. Since each of us was born with uniquely composed ego, to deny it is absurdly self-defeating. Letting go of ego in higher teachings is to open yourself up to the infinite possibilities of the Unknown Great Mysteries of Life. It also means reaching out and merging with the Divine, so practicing this spiritual way while honoring your ego-self is a balanced stance to take in life.
It’s important to note that sustained periods of neglecting your primary life force can lead to feelings of NOT fulfillment. So be sure to listen to what your heart desires and keep your eyes open for synchronistic events that will cue you in. When you operate from you authentic self, you feel good, because it not only sets off the vital force, but it also puts you back in alignment. It’s in a sense, a homecoming.
Lastly, try to locate and feel your ego at the very center of you being and use ego as a centering device. Tapping into the source is empowering. To be able to do so at will is a skill one should not live without. Don’t forget to exercise your right to be yourself without falling into those erroneous zones. Go ahead and claim your ego power to shine on your own terms. Let there be a celebration!