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The Ego: Can We Really Take It or Leave It?

What is the ego?

 

Dictionary.com defines “ego” as “the ‘I’ or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought.”

It goes on to say that the definition in psychoanalysis is “the part of the psychic apparatus that experiences and reacts to the outside world and thus mediates between the primitive drives of the id and the demands of the social and physical environments.”

 

New Age gurus everywhere have said that the ego is that part of the human experience that makes us separate from others, the part that individualizes itself, the mind chatter that plagues us, the child part of ourselves that needs constant attention, and the part of the self that makes decisions based upon the past, and coming from a place of fear. They also tell us that the more evolved we are, the less interference the ego presents in our lives, and that letting go of the ego is the ultimate goal. This attitude makes a lot of people involved in the New Age movement feel “less than” because they can’t seem to quiet or eradicate the ego. It’s a very counter-intuitive thing to put on people.

 

Whether you are religious or on some spiritual path, or a total atheist, learning to live with the ego is part of accepting yourself totally and embracing the human experience. Stressing over the ego’s chatter, being in a constant battle with it, and beating yourself up for mistakes it has made, are all a waste of energy. As long as we are in bodies, having a human experience, we are going to have to deal with the ego. Learning how to quiet it in order to de-stress is a wonderful practice to get into. Meditation is a good way, so is listening to your favorite music, getting out in Nature. Getting into the habit of giving yourself time to make decisions so that you know that your decisions are not coming from a place of fear – which is the ego – is also a practice that it is good to take on.

 

Not accepting the ego as a part of who you are is essentially denying a part of who you are. But the ego doesn’t have to be in control. You love your child, but you wouldn’t allow her to drive the car, would you? Learning how to manage it takes practice and self-awareness is the key. You really can’t eradicate the ego, but you can befriend it, embrace it, and acknowledge the role it plays in making you who you are. Self-esteem requires that you accept the totality of yourself, and the ego is just one aspect of that.

Written by Kevin West

Kevin West