Referring to the “ego” with disdain in our voice has become such a part of our culture. We beat ourselves up for not being humble enough. Have you ever had this happen? You realize that you have been doing such a great job at being humble. You feel proud! And then you criticize yourself for having been prideful of being humble? Oh, we can be swirly monkeys. Ego loves to chase it’s own tale.
But, I believe ego is not evil. We haven’t failed if we haven’t successfully gotten “rid of” ego. I have friends who disagree with me on this, but bear with me…
I do believe our spiritual path holds as a primary focus *managing* ego. It is a taming process not a dismantling process. Ego is like a wild horse. It runs free and wild, sometimes with a crazy look in its eyes. It will run away, attack, and race with great power but no purpose but to stay safe. Our egos run us; they drive our bus. A wild horse driving a bus… perhaps I am mixing my metaphors.
Anyway, in spiritual reality, each one of us is an emergent quality of the Universe. The Universe unfolded however it unfolded. Matters not whether it was the hand of God and took seven amazing days or it was a Big Bang followed by billions and billions (Carl Sagan RIP) of years of cosmic and then biological evolution. Either way, we are written from the heavens. We are God and/or star stuff (or other) put in the unique situation of being self-aware.
We have a survival instinct. Ego is its agent. The ego wants to ensure your physical survival. But it also wants to ensure psychological survival. The ego mindlessly defends our being in any form that we imagine ourselves. To the ego change equals danger. The change of an arrow physically going through our heart scares the ego every bit as much as a rejection from a loved one’s psychological arrow. Ego wants to keep us aligned with the image of ourselves we have created, mostly unconsciously, based on our childhood experiences, that mostly involve us feeling small and without much power.
Hmmmm. No wonder it can be so hard to change.
But when we do take continuous little steps towards new decisions we want to make about who we are, our ego learns. She adjusts with us and eventually says, “Yeah, OK. So we aren’t going to pretend to be that small anymore. OK.” The ego then tries to “survive” the new self-image. The ego becomes our tool when we nudge, cajole, convince, and persuade it to align with our higher purposes, our new choices.
So instead of being led willy-nilly around by this wild horse, you are riding the powerful horse, directing it. The power has been yours all along… but it has been pretending to be you. Now ego is tamed. It is your tool. Use it mindfully. And also congratulate yourself whenever you wake up into the realization that the wild horse has taken over, again. This is the spiritual path. Greater and greater consciousness and mindfulness. There are always new challenges that require some horse-whispering so never despair when you get bucked off. It just means you are onto a new lesson.
Your Action Steps:
1. Do an Eckhart Tolle and simply watch with curiosity for an hour, or a day, or a week your thoughts and actions. Make no attempt to change anything. Just watch and see and wonder at when you feel survivally and when you feel more zen-like.
2. Give your ego a project… something special for it to “survive”. E.g. Tell your ego to really beware of opportunities to feel peaceful and centered. Tell it it really needs to get behind a new identity of calmness. Write down what happens or shifts. The ego just wants a good job! It’s a lot like my Australian Shepherd in that way.
3. Ask your ego what it thinks it needs to feel safe. Ask it if it is open to the possibility that it could find safety in another way? Ask it if it ever finds benefit from allowing a little challenge, danger, or change. Write its response.
4. Tell your ego that you love and appreciate it. Tell it that it’s doing a great job. Throw it a little party. It may become more cooperative with some love and acceptance. Then you become the ego-whisperer. You may even get your own reality TV show!