How to Approach the Ego

It’s not uncommon to get caught up in the trickiness of how to perceive our egos. Once we become aware of it, we are then met with the crossroads of how we should approach it.

The patterns and behaviors of the ego are often portrayed as a mental structure that does not serve our true selves, but if opposing it only makes it grow, then how should we go about treating it?

Better Understanding The Ego

A simplified definition of the ego is a false sense of identity that our mind creates for ourselves throughout our lives by identifying with different things like certain thoughts, beliefs, opinions, stances, forms, etc. In our thinking mind, it is who we often mistake for who we are, but who we truly are goes far beyond any conceptual structure built within our minds.

What I consider to be two of the most common misconceptions of the ego are that:

  1. The ego is a conscious entity that we have no influence over.
  2. Once we dissolve the ego, we can live without the presence of it.

To address what I consider to be the first misconception (based on my own experience), instead of conceptualizing the ego as its own entity beyond our control, I like to think of the ego as a set of programmed beliefs.

The ego trying to “survive” is simply an analogy for our minds defending the beliefs that we have identified to be either true or untrue, good or bad, right or wrong, who we are or who we are not, and so on.

This is what Eckhart Tolle means when he says “the ego loves nothing more than to be right.” In our minds, “right” is what we have identified and programmed ourselves to believe as true, or “good”, so this belief is what our egos will continue defend. The main thing to realize here is that although we are not consciously choosing to defend this stance, we are the ones who have unconsciously programmed our egos to take that stance, and we do in fact have the power to change these programs to ones that serve us.

To briefly address the second misconception that I listed above: We as human beings will always have an ego. Now, whether it be subtle or inflated, whether we be conscious of it or not, that it up to us. It is not about eliminating the ego, it is about learning how to live with it.

Observing It Without Judgement

When we first learn of becoming aware of the ego, and are able to observe its behavior, it is common to instinctively become judgmental towards it.

“Ugh, there it goes again.”

“That’s my ego, I shouldn’t be thinking that.”

“Shut up, that’s not who I really am.”

Thought narratives like these can be common when one observes the patterns of the ego within their own mind. The funny thing about it is, is that all of these narratives are also derived from the ego! This is one of the things Eckhart Tolle is referring to when he regards the ego as being “clever”.

When we judge something, we are also making the implication that the thing in which we are judging is “wrong”, which also implies that we are then “right”. When we judge the thoughts, patterns, and behaviors that come as a result of our egos, this judgement is also the work of our egos, as we are perceiving the “ego” as a new enemy that is “wrong” or “bad” and must be defended against.

I made the mistake of doing this constantly when I first became aware of the patterns and behaviors of my own ego, not realizing that this judgement was in fact inflating it even more. Once I realized that this was in fact causing me more suffering than liberation, I made the connection that although I was able to observe and become aware of my ego, I did not have to react to it.What you resist, persists.” had never rung so true.

Treat It Like a Child, Not An Enemy

Lastly, the greatest advice that has helped me when coming to perceive the ego: Treat the ego like a child, not an enemy. Fighting the ego only makes it grow stronger, so the more one tries to resist the ego, the more power it will have over them.

This does not mean that we have to give in to the ego, it simply means that we must guide it, as if it were a child and knew no better. Like our thoughts, although we may not have control of what passes through our mind, we definitely have control over how we choose to perceive it.

As we alter the way in which we perceive the content that rises within our minds, we will begin to see that over time, this change in perception alters the content itself. This is what Dr. Wayne Dyer means when he says, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

When we approach the ego with a loving presence instead of attacking it with labels and frustration, our mind will begin to reflect this peaceful and loving state, and the limiting behaviors of the ego will begin to dissipate.

We can still be aware of the ego without fighting it. It is simply about replacing these thoughts, patterns, and behaviors to ones that serve our true selves, not our self-constructed identities that live within our unconscious.

So if you ever get caught trying to determine whether something is arising as a result of the ego or as a result of your true self, choose love over fear and you will never be wrong. Namaste and all my love, I hope this helps!

Breaking the Cycle of Procrastination

Our egos love to convince ourselves that it is easier to remain stagnant than to initiate growth and rise above limitations; But staying stagnant is suffering, and the limitations do not exist. 

If one feels as though they are lost and don’t know where to go next, the best thing to do is something.

Whenever I felt as if I was stuck in one place, not knowing which direction to go in next, I would realize that it was time for something to change.

Instead of waiting for some magical solution to come into my life, I always found it easier to take control and make something happen.

 

Some of the things that helped me to take action within my own life, that are easy for anyone to take control and do if they are feeling stuck, are:

Clean and Reorganize Your Bedroom

This is a great way to initiate a shift within one’s life. One can get rid of things that no longer grow them, serve them, or make them happy within their own personal space.

It feels good to let go of things that you feel as if you’ve grown out of, as well as getting rid of things that may carry an energy that holds you back mentally. Although more than anything, it feels good to create a space where you feel at peace.

Start a Garden

This doesn’t have to be an all or nothing project. One can take the initiative from going out and weeding, to starting a compost bin, to potting a flower and nurturing it every day. Don’t be afraid to get creative and involved with it, do whatever calls to you personally. Enjoy and be present during the process, as this is also a way to connect with nature.

Start a New Diet/Detox

It helps to start out small, like eliminating certain things from one’s diet (which is what I did in order to nurture my body). Some of the things I took the initiative of eliminating from my diet were:

  • Sugar
  • Bread
  • Dairy
  • Meat

It is important to do whatever works for you personally, and not to forget to love yourself through the process!

Create a Daily Exercise/Yoga Routine

This can be finding an exercise or yoga video that you like and practicing it every night before you go to sleep, or even something as simple as taking a walk once a day. As I wrote above, anything is better than nothing, as long as one is taking the initiative with the intention of doing things differently. 

Read a Book or Learn Something New

One doesn’t have to pay for a class or wait for knowledge to come to them in order to learn something new, there are many resources and ways to educate ourselves right here within our own homes. It is up to us though to initiate this process and become open to learning new things.

 

The list can go on forever… But at the end of the day, initiating some kind of change feels much better than staying stuck.

Becoming Non-Reactive Towards Thoughts

To observe thoughts without judgement or criticism, only with the presence of love and compassion, is to become aware of the truth that thoughts have no power over the way we feel, unless we allow them to have that power through reaction and ego-identification.

Of course no one would consciously want to give their thoughts the power to cause them suffering, that is why it is unconscious behavior. When one brings their awareness to the fact that thoughts do not have the power to cause them suffering unless they react to them, they then become conscious of it, and it is then no longer an unconscious pattern.

Some get as far as becoming aware of the thoughts that arise, but then lose this awareness by falling into unconscious reactivity; such as convincing themselves of “I should not be thinking this, I am wrong for thinking this” or truly believing that the thought has something to do with who they are (ego-identification), thus inducing emotions such as sadness, anger, regret, or fear.

The thoughts that we tend to react to the most are usually linked to a negative false belief system that we have recurrently convinced ourselves to be true (even if it is far from what is true), which then becomes ingrained within our mental structure. This false belief then influences unconscious cyclical patterns of thinking that we assume we have no control over, but we do.

When we begin to sit with these thoughts and look into why they arise, instead of fighting against, resisting, and trying to avoid them, we can then bring our awareness to the root cause of why these thoughts make us feel the way they do, and make the shift from unconsciousness to consciousness.

Let go, and Let Flow

Resistance of the flow happens when one allows fear-based thinking and negative emotions to take control, which causes suffering. When one ceases to resist and allows the natural flow to occur within them, without judgement or retaliation, inner peace takes over.

To make inner peace is to cease the fighting within. To allow, to forgive, to accept, to love. There is a saying that we usually make ourselves own worst enemies, that is to say, we judge our minds and our own egos the harshest. The things that we tend to judge in others, whether we’re aware of it or not, is usually a reflection of how we feel about our own identities.

We all inherently have the desire to come from a place of authenticity, but that is a difficult task when most of don’t even know how to be honest with ourselves. This is not usually intentional, but we have trained ourselves so well to avoid thoughts and feelings that make us uncomfortable that, for most of us, it has become ingrained within our mental structure.

When we become aware of the reason behind why certain emotions, thoughts, and feelings arise, instead of falling into the self-constructed pattern of judgement and escapism, the path to freeing oneself of the suffering connected to these certain emotions, thoughts, and feelings then becomes apparent.

We then realize that these thoughts, feelings, and emotions only have the power to effect us because we allow them to, because we give it our attention, whether we’re aware of it or not.

To fall into identification with things like thought and emotion is to allow thought and emotion to determine and have power over how we feel, and this includes how we feel about ourselves. This is to resist the natural flow of what is, to resist all that is love. 

When we allow these things to flow through us without judgement or fear, only with the presence of love and acceptance towards anything that arises, we then allow it to come and go, to pass through us instead of holding onto it with our attention. We then learn how to let go, and let flow.

From the Words of Dr. Dyer: Awareness of Perception

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer

It is our choice whether we interpret our personal experiences to be positive or negative. In other words, we all have the power to choose to reflect a state of higher awareness, or to remain rooted in patterns of egoistic perception.

One thing I came to realize is that when the ego is in control, it will always manage to find another problem, another thing to complain about, another thing to oppose. Even if there is no problem present, the ego will find a way to create one just so it can continue to survive.

One way I learned how reflect a state of inner peace and higher awareness, instead of allowing myself to fall into negative ways of thinking and reactivity, is to live in a constant state of gratitude. 

If I am resting in a hot room, there are two ways in which I can perceive the situation:

  • “I can’t take this heat, this is so unpleasant. If I just had another fan to cool me off I would feel much better.” And so on…

OR

  • “I’m grateful that I am inside with some air flowing. If I were stuck outside, I would be much hotter than I am now. Thank you.”

This is just one small example, but this applies to all the experiences we perceive and encounter throughout each of our journeys. As one continues to practice and become aware of the ways in which they perceive interactions and situations, the ego’s tendencies to seek out negativity will diminish (as the ego itself will begin to diminish due to the presence of awareness), and all that is positive will start to become apparent.

Becoming Aware of Internal Thought Patterns

Anyone has the ability to become the observer of thought instead of identifying with thought.

When one is able to see thoughts for what they are, a programmed belief system existing only within one’s own mind, they are then over time able to reprogram these thought patterns in order to initiate a positive shift within themselves. If one does not become aware of their negative thought patterns, then these same thoughts continue on as a cycle of ego-based suffering.

Real positive change for oneself always begins on an internal level; but one can only make the decision to change for themselves, not anyone else. If one does not want to create change for themselves, or is not truly open to change, then they can never achieve this positive change until they make the choice (on their own) to create that internal switch.

Our egos love to convince ourselves that making such an internal switch is an impossible feat, when in reality that is not the case at all. Yes, it may take time to understand your negative  patterns and to form new positive ones, and I can personally tell you now it’s not always easy to dedicate oneself to such an internal change, but this is something that any human being can achieve; if they are willing to place enough importance on it.

So if you are contemplating a change within yourself, allow me to ask you this one question, the question that was at the root of all of the positive change I initiated within myself:

Do you think you have suffered enough?

(With all my love, this post was inspired by Eckhart Tolle)