Ego, Ego Psychology and Ego Defense Mechanisms

• Want to know what your ego is?
• Ready to learn some useful ego psychology?

• Check whether you are identified with your limited sense of self.

• Don't fight your ego ... learn how to deal with it constructively.
• Get a free Enneagram Test! (upcoming)


What is Ego?

Well, one way to put it is this: It's your limited and predictable personality.

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.

you are not your ego
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?

So. Your 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!

Why? Because 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.

Your 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 love?
• Do you get enough quality sex?
• Do you have enough safety and security?
• 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 personal development?
• Do you feel 100 percent complete and whole?

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 on Earth.

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 itself.

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.

can you live without the ego
There IS in fact a larger personality for you to identify with, and calling it your soul is as good a name as any.

There 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:

Moving beyond ego psychology will activate acute awareness, unconditional love and much more, giving you experiences ranging from very peaceful to entirely ecstatically blissful.

Letting go is the quickest and easiest method leading to this experience.

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.

So 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 to it.

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

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 the ego?

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 to win.

Dealing Constructively with Your Ego

So, 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.

Just 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 understanding).

(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 ego.

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 article Relationship Problem Advice) are just as useful when dealing with your own ego as when dealing with other people!

For your convenience, here they are again:

Your Keys to Relationships

• Intention (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 (Shared Interest)
• Playfulness (Humour / 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 knowledge.

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 it.

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 Egos

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.
ego psykologi

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.

The more stress, the more you will tend to revert to old patterns of behavior.

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.

Plus, 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?

Well, one 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.

In 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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