The Ego and How to Overcome its Negative Influence

I had a lengthy discussion concerning the ego with a fellow sexual abuse sufferer.  She viewed her ego as a protector that has kept her alive.  This woman saw herself as a victim, ashamed that the rape occurred, and still suffering decades after the incident.  A successful woman in her chosen career, happy in her marriage of over 35 years, a person whom you would assume had it all.  Yet, she has lived every day since she was raped, in a state of trepidation. 


I, on the other hand, saw the ego as the voice that kept me locked in a room, too fearful to ever want to leave.  I see myself as a survivor, proud that I have overcome the fear, and feel that I can help others to do the same.  I’m successful and happily married for over 20 years.  But, I choose to take back my power and not live in a state of fear, a long time ago.   


Perspective is astonishing.  One view keeps you locked in living an anxious life and the other lets you become your authentic self.  Your mindsets play a significant role in determining the realization of your dreams and your ability to overcome.  The ego is always a negative influence.  Its job is to instill fear.  But, you can learn to overcome the destructive influence of this instinctual mechanism that is doing more harm than good. 


Negativity is not intelligent. It is always of the ego. ~ Eckhart Tolle


What is the Ego?


Freud's personality theory saw the psyche in three parts, the id, ego and superego. The id is the primitive and instinctive piece which responds directly to the basic urges, needs, and desires.  The ego is part of the id which has adapted to the influences of the world.  Therefore, it tries to mediate between them. It’s the decision-making component of personality. Ideally, the ego works by reason, yet still seeks pleasure.  The superego learns the morality of society. 


So, the ego works to satisfy the id’s demands in a realistic way.  It compromises or postpones gratification to avoid negative consequences of society.  The ego is the load bellowing voice in our head that tries to reason with us to either get what we want or to keep us from being harmed, physically or emotionally.  This mindset only cares about itself.  It cannot love; its job is to create fear.  


The ego believes it’s separate from everything that we exist outside of community, which isn’t true.  The body is the ego's proof, that we are separate from others.  Therefore, if we are detached, then we are isolated.  Thus, we need to be more concerned with self-preservation, then the good of all.  This is where the “us versus them” mentality comes from.  This erroneous belief is designed to falsely protect the self. 


The ego isn't wrong; it's just unconscious. Know that the ego isn't personal. It isn't who you are. ~ Eckhart Tolle


The Ways of the Ego


As we have discovered, the ego wants to keep the id happy within society’s standards.  Therefore, its perception is inaccurate.  Ego takes everything personally.  It’s full of drama, always wanting more than it has.  Comparing and complaining is a way for the ego to strengthen itself.  The ego is the loveless mind and is always seeking suffering.  Suffering is a narrative of the egoic mind.  It’s how it keeps the authentic self at bay.


Don’t underestimate the ruthlessness of the ego to keep you in a state of suffering.  In which you voluntarily participate in by the choices you make based on fear.  Fear is your ego saying that you haven't been here before; therefore it needs to take charge of the situation.  It does this by creating different types of fear to maintain control, keep you small, and stop you from achieving your dreams.  Here are four types of fear the ego uses to sustain its grip over your life. 


Complaining and reactivity are favorite mind patterns through which the ego strengthens itself. ~ Eckhart Tolle


1.  Shame is the ego's tool to keep us under its control.  


As a self-conscious emotion, shame is the feeling that we are inadequate or unworthy, which is a lie of the ego.  Although another person can trigger shame in us, we are responsible for this self-inflected state of negativity.  Yet, we hide this sting from others, so they can’t see.  We perceive our self-consciousness and vulnerability, as weakness. 


However, for a wound to heal, it must first be exposed.  The air and the work we do, heals the wound, but the ego responds with this fear called shame.  The ego doesn’t want you to heal.  The ego wants you to believe that exposing the wounds to the light will cause you additional harm.  Again, this is a lie. 


Coping mechanisms are ways that the ego uses to numb us out.  By doing so it keeps us from facing the need to heal.  Healing of a wound can be uncomfortable, but it’s necessary for us to release the shame of the past and become our authentic selves. 


Sometimes, letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.  ~ Eckhart Tolle


2. The ego judges others to be empowered.


Blame strengthens the ego.  Blame is a self-defense mechanism, which allows the ego to keep its self-esteem intact.  It’s easier to avoid responsibility of a problem if one can deflect the obligation to another person.  There’s a difference in searching for the reason for a situation and trying to place blame.  One is constructive and helpful while the other is destructive. 


The ego wants to be right all the time.  Therefore, it uses judgment, another form of blame, to keep us locked in negative patterns of behavior.  Since the ego believes it’s separate from others, it also thinks it is okay to judge them.  But, others are a mirror of ourselves, and when we judge others, we ultimately judge ourselves.  This reflection is seen when the ego over reacts to those things we’re not willing to change in ourselves. 


It believes there is power in judgment. Therefore when we judge another, we are more powerful than they are.   The ego equates power and judgment with strength and control. Those ruled by the ego believe that strength and power are obtained and maintained by their ability to control others.  This of course is another lie.  True strength comes from knowing one’s authentic self and living from that place of honesty. 


There is nothing that strengthens the ego more than being right. ~ Eckhart Tolle


3. The fear of loss is a tool of the ego to keep us small. 


Loss aversion is a strong motivator for human beings.  Even if, the potential gains outweigh the potential loss.  We become attached to things and individuals.  People grow attached to the possessions in their lives. Things like their profession, their position, their lifestyle, etc. To chase after a dream would mean giving up some, if not all, of these things that have become a part of their lives. Because of this fear of loss, some people choose to put their dreams on hold, permanently.


When we allow fear to interfere with our decision making, we tend to choose to do nothing, which is still a choice.  This keeps us from our dreams.  If we’re only concerned about maintaining our current status then, we can never move forward.  So, when we’re faced with a decision we need to ask ourselves, what’s the worst thing that could happen?  If we can live with that outcome, we will decide to move forward. 


Fear of loss is a key way the ego keeps us from growing into our full potential.  What we’ve needed in the past, may not be what we need in the present or the future.  Our authentic self is better at determining how to follow our dreams then the ego who just wants to maintain the norm. 


You can always cope with the present moment, but you cannot cope with something that is only a mind projection - you cannot cope with the future.  ~Eckhart Tolle


4.  Fear of failure allows the ego to maintain a mediocre life. 


Moving into the unknown is scary.  But, being concerned about what others think about you or your abilities is the ego exerting itself by trying to keep you from exploring new things.  Although, success is hard to define unless you are specific about goal setting, failure is also hard to describe.  Missing the mark, but having growth isn’t failing.  If you learn, then you didn’t fail. 


The ego wants you to maintain the current standard of your life.  Nothing new or different as it may have an unexpected outcome and we need to avoid the unknown.  As you can see, this means that your dreams our outside the acceptable norm.  Therefore, the ego will do it’s best to keep you from attaining those goals as there are risks involved. 


Yet, the universe wants you to stretch and reach for your dreams by creating a path that you haven’t been on.  In order to accomplish this, you need to overcome the fear of failure and learn to move out of your comfort zone.  When you are on the right path and stress builds up, you know that the ego has returned in order to keep your life ordinary. 


When there is stress, it is usually a sign that the ego has returned, and you are cutting yourself off from the creative power of the universe. ~ Eckhart Tolle


How to move past the Egoic Mind


As you can see, attention to the ego consumes the greatest amount of our time and effort.  Our egos really confuse our perception and our dreams if we are not vigilantly refocusing our eyes back onto the truth.  Though present moment awareness, we can move past the ego.  Let’s look at three ways we can overcome the egoic mindset to be our authentic selves. 


Non-reaction to the ego in others is one of the most effective ways not only of going beyond ego in yourself but also of dissolving the collective human ego. ~Eckhart Tolle


1.  Awareness and the ego cannot be together. 


Awareness is just that, being aware of the thoughts you are having.  However, those thoughts are not who you are.  Therefore, consciousness is the beginning of becoming free of the egoic mind.  Realizing that your thoughts and any negative emotions they produce are not helpful and pointless means that you understand that the ego is not your authentic self. 


Since we have determined that the ego is the voice in our head, awareness then, can be understood as the ability to recognize we have a choice. The voice contains emotions, but the reality contains only the unemotional facts of the situation.  Therefore, we can conclude that the voice of the ego is the reason for our suffering.  It ascribes negativity to the situation that isn’t helpful.  The ego wants to maintain the stance that we have no choice but to be upset about the situation. 


As soon as we realize that there is a choice, the ego has to dissolve.  The ability to choose a different thought, to make a different choice, opens us up to becoming our authentic selves.  The ego cannot maintain its voice once we become aware. 


When you realize that what you react to in others is also in you (and sometimes only in you), you begin to become aware of your own ego. ~Eckhart Tolle


2.  The present moment is the exit out of the ego.


Awareness is timeless and exists only in the present moment. I’m aware of the past and of the future, but my past and future selves are still projections of the ego.  Only my authentic self is currently present, consequently the ego evaporates in the instant.  


Time is an illusion of the mind, being fully present in this moment means that our egoic minds cannot speak to us as we are silent in our being.  It’s the ego that labels what’s happening, good or bad, and it’s the ego that is reacting to the situation in an emotional way. 


The present moment already is as it is. It is inevitable. Resistance to it causes suffering.  The main purpose of resistance is to strengthen the false sense of self, the egoic identity. Any emotions that are ascribed to it are of the ego and are irrelevant.  Present moment awareness brings you towards realizing your oneness with life.   Our authentic being is.  We are to accept the now; it is as it should be. 


The ego could be defined simply in this way: a dysfunctional relationship with the present moment. ~Eckhart Tolle


3. All situations contain opportunity


Reality is an interpretation by the ego. When we no longer need to defend our position we are releases from the egoic mind.  When we choose to resist, then the resistance we encounter increases. We need to accept the situation as it is, in order to move forward with the opportunity this moment offers.  Our authentic selves know that each encounter we have is a lesson for our growth.  Each person we meet is meant as a teaching opportunity either for us or for them.  We need to choose to see the situation as an opportunity. 


The ego sees opportunities as a time to question "what is in it for me?" It’s the external dialog of the ego.  Asking, "how can I help" is the internal dialog of the soul.  All opportunities are ways for our authentic selves to develop. This causes the ego to instill fear so that we choose not to pursue these types of change.  All change is meant for growth despite what the ego tries to get you to believe. 


Surviving through the day unscathed is the desire of the ego.  It sees opportunity as a possible negativity so it doesn’t want you to pursue it.  Therefore, it will argue its concerns and instill fear.  Yet again, this is a lie. 


You cannot fight against the ego and win, just as you cannot fight against darkness. The light of consciousness is all that is necessary. You are that light.  ~ Eckhart Tolle


Moving Forward


Trying to be good is ego driven; allowing the good to emerge is living.  We all want to live and not just survive.  But, to truly live we need to be aware of what the ego is trying to accomplish.  We need to be aware of the lies it tells and the fear it tries to instill.  We need to be truly present in each moment, so that the ego doesn’t rise up and delude us of the opportunities that the universe is providing to us each day. 


We are born whole and as we go through life we forget that we are perfectly made and perfectly unique.  We all know who we really are.  We are born knowing our authentic self.  If we allow our ego, our false self, to rule our minds and never get quiet then we lose the connection to soul, the connection to our authentic selves. 


As you realize the ego’s tactics and become conscious about your mindset, you can alter the course of your life.  If you would like to receive more enlightening articles right into your email fill this out now.

Do you need help becoming aware of your own mindset?  Do you need support in not allowing the egoic mind to stay in charge of your life?  If so please contact me and we can put together an action plan for you to be authentically you and for you to know that you are enough.

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