Your Ego And Its Job
Before we jump into the subject of this article, let’s take a moment to get some brief etymology on the actual word “ego.” This word comes from the Greek and means “I”, or “me.”
Now, it’s truly unique and somewhat bizarre to really truly understand that we have an elemental ego – a living breathing element of us with its own thoughts and feelings - quite separate from our own. And yet, we’re both living in the same body. It’s kind of like being locked in a dark closet with a total stranger.
Imagine the feeling. All our life we think we’re alone in our closet. Then we discover there’s a stranger in there with us. How did we not see this? How could someone else be in here with us all this time – and we didn’t even know about it?
It is so much easier to pretend there’s no such thing as an ego … or just pretend it doesn’t really matter, as if it actually has no impact. But if we truly had only ONE ‘part’ of us – one aspect of our “self” – then we would never feel the need to talk to ourself. All would be quiet inside our head because there would be nobody else to talk to. In reality, we have many voices in our head. Some talk to us. Some sing songs that won’t go away. Some punish us verbally for mistakes we make. And some are just waiting for a confrontation, or discussion, and sometimes some ill advice.
Most people are under the belief that they ARE their ego. With no difference between the “Higher Self I” and the “lower ego self I.” They are of the opinion that “I am my ego; my ego is me.” Yet, this is most definitely NOT true. Ego is critical for our survival. Much like the sonar or radar on a ship … But it’s NOT who we really are entirely. It’s one PART of us. WE are MORE than our ego … but the ego wants to feel as if it’s all alone and in charge.
Many people, however, function from their ego. Our ego is dumb and repetitive. Oh-so-cynical. Self-destructive. Bitter. Seething. Like a slow bubbling brew of yuck. When we function from our ego, tomorrow will be like yesterday. Yesterday will be like tomorrow. Predictable. Little surprise and a lot of pain and struggle. Bad memories will be played back on the videotape in our head. Warnings based of past occurrences will pop up allowing us to miss out on new experiences out of fear and guilt.
Every human being has an ego. Our ego was born when we were born, and it stays with us our entire life. We could not survive without it. But the true purpose of the ego is to take the information from the world and deliver it to us. Like the Mail Carrier. Our job, is to interpret and respond properly to that information in an intellectual, intelligent, and intuitive manner.
Unfortunately, the pain and shame of past memories often throws the system off-balance. We decide we don’t want to make decisions about what’s happening to us. And we choose to not make choices. Instead, we try to force our egos to make the interpretations for us about our life and our experiences.
For example, a small child, being punished, cannot possibly figure out why it’s happening. The child cannot understand the connection between spilt milk and a scolding or a punishment. They can modify their behavior – they adapt to the trouble – but that’s an entirely different story. They adapt even though they don’t quite understand it.
But, as human beings, we always seek meaning. A child will always seek to rationalize the pain inflicted upon it by those God-like beings we call our parents. Lacking an understandable answer, the child turns to its ego. “Why did they yell at me?” The ego – even less equipped than the child, is always ready to come back with the answer. And it’s always something like this: “Because there’s something wrong with you.”
This is the one answer that always seems to makes sense to the ego, and thus the patterns begin to lay a foundation to build on. First, the pattern of asking the ego for answers, begins. Then, the pattern of forcing the ego to interpret the data it delivers. Then we begin the pattern of making the ego be responsible for things it can’t possibly be responsible for. It wasn’t built for this type of decision making.
It’s like making the Mail Carrier coming into your house, sitting down and opening all your mail for you. And then deciding for you just how to handle each letter, and how to pay all your bills. Also, comes the pattern of shaming the ego. Shame is like a hot potato to the ego. When somebody throws a hot potato at us, our natural tendency is to throw it somewhere else. For a child, usually the only place to throw “shame” is onto their ego. “You’re stupid. You’re bad. You’re wrong. You can’t be fixed.”
Now of course the child doesn’t even know yet that it even has an ego. It doesn’t yet understand the practice of inner dialog. It just knows that it feels bad, and it wants to do something with those feelings. About the only place for a child to dump it’s shame … is on it’s own ego. The ego, though, has its own thoughts and feelings, its own desires, its own imagination. It has a mind of its own.
And it can easily start to dislike us at an early age. We force it to do our job of thinking and feeling and evaluating. We force it to come up with answers. We force it to be responsible for our life. We force it to take on our shame, our pain, and our self-hate. We abuse our ego as we were abused. Well guess what happens when we dump and dump and dump on somebody? They start hating us and they want to get us back anyway they can. Have you ever seen a picture of a person with a little angel on one shoulder and a little devil on the other? That little devil on our shoulder is your ego.
It started out with us as an ally, but most likely, now it’s become our anything less than our friend. And it’s always talking - and sometimes yelling - in our ear. It’s the voice telling you this is all nonsense. The voice always trying to distract you away from what’s real. The voice that always wants you to judge without evaluating. The voice that tells you you’re either better than or less than. But never equal. The voice that tells you “you really are a victim." And then gives you a hundred reasons why. Stop for a moment right now, close your eyes, and ask yourself “Do I have an ego?” And just listen for the answer. That’s what your ego sounds like. Your Higher Self will whisper in a still small voice. We need to listen intently for THAT direction.
As we advance spiritually, we can learn to put the ego behind us and let our Spirit/Soul lead. Ae can see new experiences as new rather than have them compared to past situations. We can take a few extra moments to RESPOND to a situation thru the direction and guidance of our Inner Higher Self, rather than a brief second to REACT from our lower base nature ego mind. See your ego as somewhat of a radar detector. It’s job is to tell you there’s a speed trap up ahead … but it’s job is not to respond to the information it has delivered to you. That’s YOUR job. Your Higher Divine Self. You are a spiritual being having a physical experience, and the more you learn about your Higher Self, the better the decisions you will make.
Just a thought …
~Justin Taylor, ORDM., OCP., DM.