The Ego. *sigh*
Something that many people have talked about, labeled, and attempted to understand but something that I think many of us lay-people have a hard time really wrapping our minds around. For me, I try to stick toward the simplest definitions possible. I define the Ego as the part of you that keeps you safe and in balance. The parts of you that are concerned with maintaining certain images and appearances, looking a certain way, acting a certain way, the works. All of us have it in one fashion or another. Intrinsically, it’s not a bad thing to have.
Many times, people talk about the dissolution of the ego once they’ve had an acid trip or other psychedelic experience. Other people, like myself, think about the ego after having emotional and mental breakdowns not initiated by substances. Point being: There comes a time in most people’s life where they begin to analyze who they are at their core.
When working with the Ego, people talk about removing the parts of you that no longer serve your highest good. Understanding that some of those parts simply had to exist to get you to the point where you could release them and move forward. They are a safety mechanism to protect you from further harm, and once the harm has passed you can let your defenses down and roam freely throughout the world again. I kind of think of these parts of the Ego as baby teeth. We all have them, some of us hold onto them for longer than others but eventually we all must lose them and allow space for our grown up teeth to come in. So teeth are still necessary, but we get a new set for the next chapter of our lives. In this same way, I think parts of the Ego also need to be discarded and replaced.
Many of us are brought up to believe that we can never let our defenses down in this world. That our world is one filled with hurtful people looking for every opportunity to hurt and manipulate us. While I don’t necessarily disagree with that concept, it’s harmful for me to live as if it were a value or virtue worth guiding my life. Sometimes it’s important to separate the facts of life from the virtues of life.
“Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?”
― Charles Bukowski
For me, the examination of the ego has come into play more heavily in recent years. During the years where it seems I was supposed to have found my specific individual place in this world that my peers and colleagues seem to have slipped into so easily. I’ve struggled to find my one true calling, in a sense, because it’s always seemed that no matter which avenue I pick, there has yet to be a road that was created, paved, and maintained that was meant just for me. I follow the footsteps of those who I have seen be led to success through business, education, family, and other means. None of their shoes seem to fit me just right though. Most of them are too tight, some of them are too big. I’m a perpetual Goldilocks looking for the fit that’s “just right” without realizing this whole time that I’ve needed to create it myself.
No one else would create a vision for my life. How could they? They’ve never seen what I’ve seen.
No one else would create a master plan for which road will give me the easiest and smoothest journey. How could they? I’ve never existed here before.
No one else could pick a flavor for my life, or a temperature, or a size. How could they? They aren’t me. And part of being me is trying on as many sizes and shapes and textures and temperatures as I can get my hands on. Trying them all and finding what fits.
Just like Goldilocks, I have to find my own way with the help of what already exists.
I guess I’ve still got a lot of growing up to do, but when have I ever wanted to be a grown up anyway? (Spoiler: only when I want people to leave me alone.)
Well, in comes the ego. The parts of me that, despite my best efforts, have not so easily become the best parts of me. The lenses that keep me in a limited human perspective. (Curses for not being omniscient.)
Regardless of any acid trips (which I haven’t specifically had) or other psychedelics experiences, my experience of what constitutes my ego has posed some unique challenges. As I’m sure has yours, dear reader. It has held me back from many things in life in an effort to protect me from damage, ridicule, and humiliation. (Fun fact: my ego hates when I write on my blog. Hence my inconsistent writing patterns. My ego has proven to be quite the dragon to slay when it comes to my public writing. I’m sure there’s a reason.)
Well instead of completely dissolving my ego, like many spiritual people may lead you to believe is of utmost importance, I’ve decided to give my ego something to do. Being the defiant dragon that it is, I’ve pulled a Khaleesi and told it that it can either “die in the old world, or live in my new world.” Which, if you’re not a Game of Thrones fan I first have to ask how and then second explain myself in a way that’s easier to understand.
I’m the captain of this ship, not my ego. My ego is a useful advisor when it comes to certain decision making processes, but not all of them. When it comes to making sure I’m protected and safe, ego is obviously my go to adviser. When it comes to exploring new territory, I know that my ego will only be useful if given a task. If I don’t give it a task, my ego can quickly derail my new explorations, talking me down from climbing a mountain because there seems to be a lot of sharp rocks and hard inclines. Instead, I tell my ego we are doing this anyway. We are climbing the mountain. If you are going to protect me, tell me the safest way to get there. Guide me in the direction with the least amount of sharp rocks, give me the swiftness to avoid any detrimental falls, but do not take away my courage to climb the mountain.
I’ve found that through study and understanding of the ego (at least my ego, not all egos) that when given a task, the ego does a pretty awesome job at getting me there safely. When the ego is given full command, it will spare no expense in keeping you safe and contained from harm.
Many people believe that the ego is the opposite of their intuition. While I’m not exactly sure about opposites, I do know that they are different lenses we can choose to examine things through. Your intuition comes from a place of all-knowing. A place that knows no matter the cost of the journey, it is one worth making. The ego is the lens that knows the costs. The little voice inside that wants to protect you and make you comfortable forever and ever. It’s honestly not a bad voice to have, but it becomes limiting when we allow the ego to call all the shots.
When the ego is in charge, we make decisions based on past hurts and failures. We remember all too well the sting and the empty feelings we have been left with after a negative experience. We protect ourselves. In many areas of life, this is deemed useful, even preferable than to continue taking risks.
This is why we all hoard resources and money from one another and don’t live exclusively in communal societies. This is why we have been led to believe that we are in an every man for himself situation at all times. Our egos have been behind the steering wheel for far too long.
I’m not calling for a mass psychedelic experience where we dissolve our egos entirely (Although I do think the world would be a different and potentially better place afterward.)
No, my ego has given me a realization much more useful than that idealistic perspective.
Why aren’t we using our egos to help guide us, like we would with our intuition? Why are we assuming our egos are the worst thing that could have been given to us? I am hard pressed to find any spiritually or psychically linked information that allows us to know that our ego serves a purpose. (Yeah, probs my ego talking but honestly it gets bored floating around in there when I don’t give it a place to focus its energies.)
Maybe I just haven’t come across the right information yet, or understood it in a way that’s better than “dissolve your ego, get rid of it entirely.” I’m part of the group of naive fools who believe every part of the person that incarnated here on earth serves a purpose, especially the parts that refuse to be discarded after much examination.
I’ve been able to release a lot of bad habits in the past year or so. I’m still working my way through many of the habits I hold onto out of comfort and fear. But one thing that persists is that little voice inside who’s sole motivation is to keep me safe. No matter what I do, what pills I take or plants I eat, that little voice wants to protect me. I’m lead to believe this little voice must serve a purpose if I can’t get rid of it. (Because thankfully I’ve eliminated quite a few of the negative voices, outside of this one.)
So for now, I’m keeping my ego intact. It’s no longer calling the shots or making all the decisions, but when it comes to making sure I’m safe, I’ll trust no other part of myself more than I can trust my ego to fill that space.
Now the fun part – which I know my ego will hate – I’m no longer playing it safe with my goals and dreams, especially when it comes to this blog. I’m leaning in, full force and putting it out there. Inconsistency aside, all future topic material will most likely be in direct opposition of my ego’s advice. It’s how I’ll know I’m taking all the right risks.
So if you’re with me – what risks are you going to take today to give less power to your ego? Let’s get to dissolving 😉