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What is Ego?
Well, one way to put it is this: It's your limited and
It's what most people tend to identify with even
though doing that is certainly not a good idea, because it will result in a
limited and fear-based experience of life. That's why it is so important to
understand ego psychology. That understanding can help you live a happier life.
Personally, I define ego like this:Based on fear and separation, and
primarily focused on the physical body, your ego is a small part of who you are,
to whit: a mental survival mechanism, designed to help you solve problems and
get your needs fulfilled.
Many other different definitions of ego exist.
One important thing you will notice is that my use of the term 'ego
psychology' has little to with the way adherents of Sigmund Freud use the same
term. They would use 'ego psychology' to signify a school of psychoanalysis
based on Freud's structural model of the mind 'id+ego+superego'. What you will
find here goes beyond that model.
This text is more in line with the
Eastern use of the term 'ego' and the teachings of modern day spiritual teachers
such as Eckhart Tolle, Arjuna Ardagh and Gangaji. The way I see the ego, it can
be adequately described by the Enneagram (a system describing nine different
types of personality; i.e. nine different types of ego).
I am pretty sure
Freud didn't know about the Enneagram (it existed in his time, but wasn't known
in the West). If he had, modern psychoanalysis would have been different (much
more powerful, if you ask me).
Anyways, articles are upcoming on several
subjects related to ego psychology, including for instance, 'What is Ego?'
[LINK], and 'Ego Development' [LINK].
Are You Your Ego?
ego is that part of you which says: 'I am here, you are over there, and the
world is out there'.
You know that way of thinking, right? You probably
use it every single day.
Perhaps you have never even questioned it. If
so, then you are presently identified with your ego:
You think that you
are your ego ... and that your ego is you.
That is a mistake.
Don't worry, though: It's a mistake most people make.
The primary problem
with that mistake is this: It ruins your life experience!
your ego, mental defense mechanism that it is, is limited and fear-based. In
other words, you identify with just a small part of who you really are, and a
very scared part, at that.
This way of thinking and believing
(identifying) will get you a life experience that is basically hell on earth,
born in your own ego psychology. Ego psychology is not a nice place to be.
Care for a Bit of Hell on Earth?
Okay, 'Hell on Earth' is harsh
language, but really, it's not far from the truth. When you identify with your
ego you never have enough of anything - except fear and problems.
ego psychology keeps you trapped in a life that is less than it could be. Just
answer these questions inside your own head:
• Do you have enough
• Do you get enough
• Do you have enough safety and
• Do you have enough
money and material possessions
• Do you
have enough control and responsibility?
• Do you have enough freedom?
Do you have enough friends?
• Do you get enough recognition?
• Do you
have enough self esteem
• Do you give and receive enough of everything?
• Do you get enough
• Do you feel 100 percent complete
If you answered 'no' to one or more of these questions (and
who wouldn't?) then you are entirely or partially identified with your ego.
In other words:
You. Never. Have. Enough. Ever!
To some degree
you'll always be scared, afraid, lonely, needy, guilty, shameful, etc., etc.
And thus you are merrily living your version of Hell on Earth!
What Is on the Other Side (Beyond) of the Ego?
Considering what I've just
said about 'Hell' one way to phrase the answer to the question in the headline
is: Paradise on Earth.
That's more or less how it's experienced. Paradise
And considering that the ego is 'merely' a mental construct,
that's actually quite amazing. Can the identification or non-identification with
a mental construct really make that much of a difference?
The answer is
yes. Ego psychology and what lies beyond it are fascinating concepts and once
you realize you are merely identifying with a mental construct, you gain the
power to create change.
What happens when you (permanently or just for a
time) let go of your ego is that you automatically move out to identify with the
larger you. What's that?
Well, one way to put it is that it can either be
the much larger 'you' of your soul, or the incredibly much larger 'you' of life
Is there such a thing as your soul? The answer to that is easy to
get: Test it by letting go of your ego and you will know! This is no 'trap' or
joke. I have personally tested it many times, and I have helped many other
people do the same.
There IS in fact a larger personality for you to
identify with, and calling it your soul is as good a name as any.
is also something beyond your soul that you can identify with, and calling that
'life' seems appropriate.
The point here is that while identifying with
your ego hurts in lots of subtle and not so subtle ways, that is not the case if
you identify with your soul or with life itself. On the contrary:
beyond ego psychology will activate acute awareness, unconditional love and much
more, giving you experiences ranging from very peaceful to entirely ecstatically
is the quickest and easiest method leading to this
The beauty is, you don't have to get all caught up in
untangling the mysteries of ego psychology when you can simply 'let go' and let
your mind's view broaden to include the part of you that exists beyond your ego.
Can You Live Without the Ego?
I don't know, but I doubt that the
question is relevant, for the experiences of spiritually enlightened people
indicate that our ego stays with us even in spiritual enlightenment.
chances are that our ego will always be there, although it is certainly possible
to live a life where the ego does not account for much identification and does
not take up many resources.
The benefit to understanding a little about
ego psychology is that you can co-exist with your ego rather than being a slave
But hey, the ego is a tool that we have all spent years
perfecting, so why not keep using it as such?
In any case I certainly do
not recommend trying to fight or get rid of your ego. That just doesn't work!
Why You Can't Fight Your Ego
The ego is a highly sophisticated defense mechanism ... and that's
not something you will want to fight. Your entire ego psychology is
developed around self protection.
And anyway: What would you
fight your ego with? What CAN you fight it with? Your intuition?
Your soul? Your free will?
That won't work, because neither
one of those is a fighting mechanism: Your intuition is a messaging
system, your soul is an unconditionally loving experiencer, and your
free will is a decision maker.
Sooo ... the only thing left
to fight your ego with is: Your ego!
Yes, that's right: The
people who are fighting and trying to get rid of their ego are using
their ego to do it!
Wonder, who's going to win ... the ego or
If you try to fight your ego you're in for a
loooooong fight. A never ending fight, in fact. This is why
surrender (i.e. letting go
) is such a good idea - it's the only way
Dealing Constructively with Your Ego
since your ego is here to stay, the way forward is to accept it and
work with it rather than against it. Understand the role ego
psychology plays in your life, both for the good and the bad. How do
you do that?
Well, by now you know that your ego psychology
is based on three things: survival, needs and problems.
ask yourself: How would you deal lovingly with a person who is
obsessed with survival, needs and problems?
(1) Probably you
would start by being non-threatening and friendly (i.e. using
acceptance and love).
(2) Then you will want to demonstrate
that you are reliable and trustworthy (i.e. taking responsibility).
(3) After that you would probably want to get to know and
understand something about the other person (i.e. gain knowledge and
(4) Then you would likely proceed very
carefully and soothingly, always showing and reassuring the other
person that you're competent, you've got it all covered, that
everything is all right.
(5) When the other (obsessed) person
tells you something, you listen of course, but you stay quietly
critical and make allowances for the obsessed focus of the person.
Well, you can use that very technique when dealing with your
So, in a sense you will be building a positive
relationship with your ego. For that you may use the wonderful and
powerful relationship keys.
Using the Relationship Keys
Your keys to relationships (which you may have read about in the
Relationship Problem Advice
) are just as useful when dealing
with your own ego as when dealing with other people!
convenience, here they are again:Your Keys to Relationships
(Choice / Courage / Free Will / Will Power /
Dedication) • Trust
(Relaxing in the Knowledge that All Is and
Will Be Okay) • Openness
(Being Open Towards Yourself, Others
and Life) • Focus Inwards
(Being Centred in Yourself / Living
from the Inside Out) • Love
(Using Your Heart / Always Choosing
Love) • Acceptance
(Saying Yes / The Art of Allowing / Forgiving
/ Letting Go) • Attention
(Consciousness / Awareness / Presence)
• Self responsibility
(Taking Charge / Not Being a Victim /
Being Reliable) • Authenticity
(Being Who You Are and Showing It
/ Honesty) • Self Knowledge
(Understanding Yourself, Others and
Life) • Common Ground
/ Fun / Adventure / Exploration / Learning)
An e-book or a
minibook [LINK] about these keys to relationships is on the way and
will be sold here on this website.
When you are dealing with
ego psychology using these relationship keys, please keep in mind
that your ego is not another person, it's not even alive per se, it
is simply a (mental and mechanical) part of you. Thus you don't need
to work quite as hard with the keys; you may tone them down a bit
when dealing with your own ego.
If you just want the short
version, just a handful of the keys, I'd say that if you have:
openness, awareness, trust, understanding and acceptance when
dealing with your ego, then you'll be well on your way.
Understand Your Ego via the Enneagram
Being open is a decision
and being aware is focusing your attention. Acceptance is much
easier when you understand what you are dealing with, so in fact the
primary key here is understanding of your ego psychology - or self
The best way I know for getting to know your ego
is the Enneagram
As the Enneagram describes the nine basic
types of ego it also (among other things) describes nine ways of
thinking, feeling, acting and generally being in the world. If you
are interested in ego and ego psychology, I strongly urge you to
check out the Enneagram
You can start by taking the
Enneagram Test [LINK]. Then go on to read more about the Enneagram
and your specific ego type. I'm writing an e-book or special report
[LINK] about the Enneagram (for sale) and you can also find some
very basic information about the Enneagram on this website.
The Point of Learning about Your Ego Type
So, what's the
point of learning all this about your ego type (and the Enneagram)?
Well, the point is to liberate yourself from the mechanical and
fear-based behavior that your ego will dictate to you, if you let
Use the Enneagram to find out which box your ego belongs
in, so that you can start to work your way OUT of that box!
Freedom and happiness are the goal of this investigation, for as
long as you are identified with your ego you are not free to choose
and at the very best you only experience happiness in glimpses.
By applying awareness and understanding to your ego - and
perhaps even letting go of a number of things related to it - you
AUTOMATICALLY move towards identifying with your larger self (your
soul). This process is one of the ways that lead to happiness and
spiritual enlightenment [LINK].
A Few Last Things about
Towards the end of this page let me just mention two
important things; one concerning stress and the other concerning the
ego's defensive tendencies.Stress
Stress and pressure are
the primary reasons that you move from a reasonably enlightened way
of being in the world and dealing with people to a fear based ego
way of doing the same. So, whenever you feel under pressure or
stressed, expect your ego to come popping up.
stress, the more you will tend to revert to old patterns of
You do, however, still have a choice! You don't
need to take stress and pressure so seriously. You don't need to
listen to worries, fear and your ego. The more understanding of
yourself and life you have, the easier this becomes.
you may give yourself the added bonus of learning some techniques
for letting go and use them on the very things that are stressing
you.One Ego Triggers the Other Ego
Also you must remember
that ego psychology is a defense mechanism. Egos will defend against
all threats - real and imaginary. This goes for your ego as well as
for everybody else's ego. What does this mean?
thing that it means is that if one person is 'taken over' by his or
her ego, this is perceived as a threat by your ego, which then
promptly will attempt to take you over. And vice versa.
this way disagreements or discussions may quickly escalate into
regular conflicts [LINK] - which benefit nobody. This is true both
at home and at work. Here is where a basic understanding of ego
psychology is helpful because you not only contend with your own ego
psychology, you are also dealing with the ego psychology of everyone
you come into contact with.
The primary antidotes to this are
awareness, acceptance and letting go.
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