Sigmund Freud talked about the ego as part of the psyche that consciously governs the Id, a source of instinctual energy. We often become so entrenched and buried in control patterns (hard-wired behaviors and emotions), that we lose control of our egos. As society molds us, for better or worse, two people emerge from one human. Jekyll and Hyde are a famous literary example of this psychological phenomenon. As I have written before (in The Responsive Universe), two forces of empowerment determine our behavior and life paths—one sees reality as a true reality which is tied to our True Nature and the other sees a reality laden with layer upon layer of outside influences, masking and clouding our True Nature. The latter force creates an ego that, if unchecked, fosters negative self-esteem. The ego itself, whether good or bad, thrives on ideals, beliefs and laws that determine a perception of the world and life that is larger than the individual. It becomes the governing force from which we unknowingly base our daily actions.
The ego is born in childhood, and often on the road toward adolescence, it develops bad habits. As a child, the ideals and beliefs that make up that realm beyond us come from others. Nothing is more important than having other peers around who approve of you and what you wear and how you look and speak. We then frame our belief system around this need to be accepted. We carry this pattern with us into adulthood. Have you ever heard the term “keeping up with the Jones’? There is this invisible benchmark that is positioned at unreachable levels. Our role models are celebrities and sports athletes that tend to set the bar so high that as ordinary people, we are set up for failure. Fashion magazines and television programs show us how to look and behave. And, then there is the hypothetical Jones family who lives down the street and the pressure of keeping up with their attractive lifestyle.
How many times have you sat at a stop light and watched the person next to you preen in his or her luxury automobile, basking in the attention you are apparently directing his or her way? What was once a childhood control pattern—being the coolest kid in the eyes of your peers—becomes an unconscious habit later in life. We become ego feeding junkies, so entrenched in what other people see and think, we lose sight of the true being that exists stifled under these false layers of confidence. The ego becomes a runaway train that can only be stopped when you start thinking for yourself and redefine that realm beyond you that determines your self-esteem and subsequent actions. Once we do this, we achieve the first step to self-actualization.
So, how do we confront our egos? Well, you already have taken the first step by simply being aware that you have an ego and it may be in possession of your true nature. Start attaining more clarity in your daily life by being more conscious of your actions. You need to ask yourself where the source of this root action lies. Are you making the choices based on other people’s approval, self gratification or are you making decisions and actions based on unadulterated motives – unselfish and unfettered? By being more aware of the root of our actions and control patterns you will begin to take power from the ego and slowly begin moving toward the power of your True Nature. This is the true progression of a self-evolving human – less ego and false-self and more pure, unfettered actions and reactions rooted in positive energy.
John C. Bader
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