Such a misunderstood creature, the ego. So many teachings telling us to suppress it, or conquer it, or otherwise annihilate it, when it’s really a very useful thing to have while you’re being human. Your ego is not the bad guy, but believing you are your ego is a dangerous business.
Your skin serves as a bag for your body, and an interface to the physical world. It’s nice to have skin, but you know it’s temporary; when your body dies, your skin goes with it. Your ego serves as a bag for your psyche, your emotions and thoughts, and as an interface with other people (or at least other people’s egos). The ego is also temporary and dies with the body. The problem we’re having is that we tend to believe we are our thoughts and emotions, instead of the more accurate description that we are experiencing thoughts and emotions. Our ego is just the lens we experience the world though, it is adaptable and changeable, and quite temporary.
Your ego is a valuable tool, once you realize it isn’t who you are. You can work with it, and change it to suit your goals. Never treat it as the enemy, because it is an intrinsic part of being human, and it’s a fabulous thing to have while you’re here. Psychologically, losing your ego would be akin to physically losing your skin. You can live through it, but it sure makes it hard to function in this world. It’s just better to form a partnership.
The ego is responsible for building the stories we collectively call our life. When we come across something new, the ego always tries to fit it into a pre-existing storyline. Here’s where we hit a snag – the new information may have nothing to do with the old story, but the ego will find a way to make it fit. For example, a friend doesn’t call when they said they would. If your existing storyline is into martyrdom and self-pity, your brain automatically goes into “this always happens to me”, judging and projecting and wallowing, when in reality, your friend had some kind of minor emergency and simply forgot. Human drama ensues.
The most effective way to work with the ego is detachment, and that is accomplished through awareness. Instead of being consumed by your reactions, step outside yourself and observe. When you start down that same old road of self-pity, mentally step back, and just be aware you are watching your ego at work. “Oh look, there’s the martyr script again.” Once you can disengage from being the story, then you can start creating a new story. “I hope everything is okay with my friend. I’ll send a text and go on with my day.”
Is this an easy process? Nope, especially not in the beginning, but it gets easier over time. For an extra helping hand there are several effective techniques to accelerate the process, like EMDR, PSYCH-K, EFT, and others, but nothing takes the place of awareness. Only you can create a new version of yourself, and you must be present to do so.
So if you aren’t your thoughts and emotions, who are you? You are the observer, the part of you that can watch your life without being consumed by it. Everyone is part human and part Divine, part ego and part Spirit, and it is an ever-fluctuating mixture. When the ego takes up too much room, then we feel the lack of Spirit, resulting in all kinds of misery and mis-creation. The ego isn’t inherently bad, we’ve just given it way more power than is healthy. You are not your stories.
Understanding and recognizing the ego is essential to developing your intuition. As information arrives intuitively, the untrained ego will automatically try to bend it to be consistent with your current stories, even if it is totally unrelated. The image that comes to mind is the crotchety old woman reading tarot cards, and always predicting doom and gloom, not because it’s there, but because it fits her own worldview. You need to know your own ego filters to minimize contamination of your intuition. We talk ourselves out of following our intuition daily because of the authority we give our ego’s stories.
Awareness is the beginning of detachment. Be aware of your thoughts. Play with interrupting thought patterns that no longer serve. Start to identify as the observer. And above all else, know that you aren’t your stories.