Ego can be described as self identity. It is the “I maker.” Its job is to deferentiate between you and the not you. For many people the ego is taken in negative light. However, the ego plays very necessary roles in our psyche. Like all things, when it is misunderstood and allowed to fall into negative patterns, it can be a cause of significant misery and illness for us.
Here are two negative patterns that an unchecked ego can fall into. First is a broad one, called false identification. Here ego identifys itself with a label or an event. I am an accountant, I am a badger fan, etc…. While many of these identifications can be helpful to us as we move through life, there are many ways that this identification can create serious problems for us.
A second tendency of ego is that it doesn’t care about positive or negative self image, all it cares about is strengthening its own self identifications. What this means is that as long as ego sees itself as more unique, then ego doesn’t care if you are a good or bad person. Its job is to be the “I Maker” and that is ALL that it cares about. Thus many people say they are the “worst person in the world” at something.
If we allow ego to dominate our mind unchecked, then our self identity can begin to become negative. This can happen easily if we allow ourselves to falsely identify with a negative incidence. One example could be when you lied to a friend. Then ego continues to identify with that event and bolster its unique strong image of itself by labeling itself as the most horrible lying friend in the world.
Many people come to me saying, I want to be well. They are told to do a stretch or change something in their lifestyle. They say, “Ugg, I can’t! It’s just something I’m not willing to do.” That resistence is coming from their ego. We can all limit the carbs in our diet if that is truly what we need to do. Our ego fights it and fights it, not because its best for our health, but because it is best for our ego. The resistence to doing the right stretches is simply ego clinging to its self identifications.
If we think about this a little bit, I am sure you will come to realize that there are hundreds of times in your recent past where internal resistence has held you back or self identity has determined your course of action. This is especially true when we need to do something for our health that we don’t like or don’t identify with. “You want me to eat vegetables?”
Next week we will talk about practices that help soften ego’s dominance over our habits.