Everybody is familiar with the word ego. Ego for most people means “I “ or “themselves”. For me the word ego means a social identity mechanism which exists only in our own heads. With this article I would like to share and explain this different approach towards the definition of the word ego.
We share this planet with many other human beings. From the moment we are born, we are taught how to adapt to our social environments. We learn the language of our parents, what is right and wrong, the cultures of the area where you are born and of course many more things. Adapting to our social environment is not a bad thing, it’s a necessity. That adapting to our social environment goes combined with a another mechanism, the forming of our social identity: who we are as a part of the society we live in. We are told who are by others and we make our conclusions on who we are by our own experiences in society. This mechanism is the ego. It’s your self-image and your social identity as part of a system. And by system I mean a structure of assumptions which is shared by a specific group or culture, most of them unaware of this structure. The ego only exists within the human thinking and it consists of specific thoughts, generated out of accepting forced upon assumptions of life. The ego in principle is not good or bad. It’s a mistake about your identity. The eventual mistake is not the ego but the believe you have in an ego which you think you are. It is a believe you have of an image of yourself which is separated from your true self.
Someone who is unknowing of who he really is, identifies themselves with their physical body, their jobs, their role in society and often with experiences from the past. Because they are not aware of their unknowing they feel a deep emptiness in their inner being. The ego tries to constantly fill this emptiness with worldly things and experiences. The ego is easily recognizable by its desires. It has to keep feeling blown up to camouflage the inner emptiness. The ego has three main needs and those are security, innocence and recognition.
In the table underneath you can you see the needs of the ego and the reactions that follow.
|Ego Need||Ego Feeling when insufficient full filled||Ego Measurements|
|Security||Frightened or Disapproval/Rejection||Pursue control and judge mental behavior|
|Innocence||Sadness or Pain( trying to prevent a feeling of quilt )||Keeping your own conscience clean|
|Recognition||Anger or Boredom||Asking for attention and looking for stimulation|
Our egos do not like insecurities. They are actually big cowards. The ego wants control over everything. The past, the present and the future. This control makes sure that the underneath lying emotion, fear of the unknown, stays covered up. The ego uses control to weapon itself against the unknown. Disapproval is also a reaction of the ego need, control. The ego usually has a negative opinion ready, especially about other people. This is because the ego is scared of rejection itself. The ego wants security and we recognize the ego by fear or rejection when possible insecurities arise.
It is also very easy to talk the ego into feeling guilty. The ego can go through great lengths to preserve its innocence or in getting it back. By staying innocent the underneath lying emotions of sadness and pain can’t surface. The ego doesn’t want to feel pain. It also fears making mistakes. By making a mistake the ego can be criticized and that hurts. This way the ego can be forced into a negative spiral which results in increasing feelings of depression, melancholy and listless.
The other need we can satisfy the ego with is recognition in the form of status, influence or money. When we look at this a bit deeper, we see that the only thing the ego really wants is to be heard. When this does not happen, the ego becomes a raging bull. This anger builds up slowly and then erupts in all heaviness. The ego not being heard is actually the same as not getting attention from others. The ego has a hunger for attention and keeps wanting more and more. The first symptom that occurs when the ego gets too little attention is boredom. The ego wants to constantly be stimulated. However the more stimulation there is, the sooner the ego gets bored. And in the end the boredom will flow over in anger. This anger or irritation (envy) can also arise when the so wanted recognition goes to someone else.As you can see the ego has a very simple working mechanism. When the ego doesn’t get what it wants, it becomes angry, sad or scared. We know that we are dealing with ego by these three basic emotions.
Serving the ego gives a pleasant feeling. It’s like a drug. It gives you a rush. The thing is that the effect lasts for only a short while. This means you go searching for more to keep the rush going. It’s like a well without a bottom. Everyone has its own sensitive rush, their own ego trip. It is very important that we learn to recognize the prison and patterns of our ego. You can do this by looking real closely to how you experience your ego. What happens when you choose for your ego? Does that give you true happiness, freedom or peace? Or do you feel pain, loneliness, dissatisfaction, fear or guilt? You have to learn to observe yourself in the choices you make over and over again in your life and experience the consequences of your made choices. Do you choose for ego or for your true self?
Only by being conscience of this we can free ourselves from the obsessional neurosis of our ego. The ego becomes deflated and space is created for our true selves to finally come forward. Three key words in this process of freedom are positivity, gratefulness and love. He, who approaches all in a positive, grateful and loving way, will no longer be a servant of the ego.