A Better Way to Deal with Your Pesky Ego (Rather Than Trying to Get Rid of It)
I see many spiritual and personal growth teachers and coaches positioning the ego as the enemy. Something to "get rid of".
This teaching completely misses the mark in my experience and opinion.
Our ego is our protector.
Believe it or not, she's got your back in a big way.
When your ego seems mean to you, she really believes that being mean to you will protect you by "hurting you before others can hurt you." It may sound crazy, but she believes this is helpful.
When your ego is raising self-doubt, she is simply afraid and doesn't want you to do something scary or that may get you hurt or humiliated.
When your ego has you in the pantry eating cookies, she's keeping you from feeling uncomfortable feelings so you don't have to suffer.
Kinda sweet when you think of her that way, right?
I could go on and on with examples for how your ego always believes she's doing the best thing to keep you safe (and alive, and free from discomfort, and not embarrassed and not hurt...)
Put simply, she's doing everything she can prevent you from experiencing pain.
Even if her tactics are no longer serving you (or even has you stuck in unhealthy patterns), I assure you that she has the best intentions.
And yet, I get it - maybe she seems to be mucking with your relationships, preventing you from losing that weight, keeping you from achieving things you want to acheive and more. It's easy to just wish she'd go away.
But...by making the ego our enemy, we actually create a split or divide within us - a hole in our soul. We fuel the energy of separation and othering. We cut off from ourselves (because, yes, our ego is PART of us (not all of us, but part of us). So cutting off from any part of us ultimately causes suffering.
If we make the ego our enemy in order to choose our "true Self" and to live our lives fully, we're missing the whole idea of oneness, love and connection. Of healing and wholeness. Of the process of individuation.
And, I've seen people try to make the ego the enemy and the ego simply doubles down. Even just trying to dismiss or ignore the ego doesn't work.
She's takes her job very seriously and is super creative and resourceful (I call her the trickster ego because she's so sneaky!)
So what can we do instead?
- The first step is to acknowledge that you've got an ego (your protector) and that her sole job is to protect you and keep you safe. You may want to pause for a second and thank her for having your back all these years. She's been working pretty hard, always there for you. Go ahead, I'll wait.
- Next, you may want to watch for all of the ways that she shows up in your life. Look for all of her best attempts to defend, protect and care for you AND all the ways that her strategies may not always be working out for you now that you're an adult. Think - people-pleasing, acting out your anger, stuffing your emotions, staying busy, perfectionism, self-doubt, reactivity, etc.
- Rather than get mad at her and try to stop her, shut her down or banish her, we can learn from her. Our triggers and ego responses are filled with wisdom and insight.
In my inner work and when I work with my clients, I focus on seeing our ego as our protector and dear friend. We welcome her, listen to her, thank her for all of her hard work and we learn from her. We step into the role of the inner parent and help her to feel safe. We get into the driver's seat of our lives so she can rest in the back seat.
This is the most self-loving (and life-enhancing) path we can take.
I call it The Whole Soul Way™. If you want to learn more, let's chat. Schedule some time with me here.
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