I smiled because the ego often gets a bad rap for being a part of the human experience. I sense the time has come to shed some light on the blessings and the challenges of the pesky little bugger we call the ego. For some of us, this information is old hat. For others, I hope it will provide fresh insights to a common human dilemma how to understand and control the ego.
The ego is a state of mind, being and consciousness. It is not a “thing” that we can get rid of or deny. Nor is it a totally negative thing. The purpose of the ego is to keep us aware of and connected to the physical world reality because we are living in a physical body. If we were not consciously connected to the very thing that makes us human, we would not be able to navigate through the world. It is the ego that motivates us to brush our teeth, comb our hair and keep the body covered appropriately to fend off the elements of the environment. It is also the ego that tells us what is good and not so good about the body and how it looks. And, the preoccupation with our looks is where we begin to experience challenges with having an ego.
The ego operates in our minds, determining how we perceive the world. It gives rise to 3 experiences that are the foundation of the challenges we lay onto the ego – – Attachment, Separation and Fear. These are the underpinnings that give rise to the shenanigans and what I call the “wahala” of the ego. In fact, if we really wanted to under how the ego operates I would say it this way: The ego operates in our consciousness to protect us from the perceived hurt, harm and danger of the physical world reality. The ego which is attached to our awareness of the physical body, is primarily concerned with the needs, desires, possessions, movements of the physical body and its 5 senses. As such, the ego is driven to whatever is required to get the body more of what increases pleasure and decreases discomfort or pain. This is the basis of attachment, holding on to what we perceive is needed for safety and comfort. The best way for the ego to satisfy the demands of the body is to keep its individual “self” separate from every other “self.” The ego fosters and harbors the notion that I am separate from you and that we are separate from our Creator, our Source. In other words, we are all out here on our own, doing the best we can, trying to keep the wolves, the other selves, off our backs. Since we never know when the wolves will attack, we had better be careful because we could get hurt – physically or emotionally. This becomes the basis of the fear that drives the ego. It is this fear, generated by the ego, that gives rise to the stinkin’ thinkin’, emotional frailty and bad behavior we encounter as our experience as human beings. And it is this that gives the ego such a bad wrap. It is this that we must keep in check.
Attachment. Separation. Fear. Attachment to things and people, viewing ourselves as separate entities and fear are the fuels that drive the ego and motivates our thoughts, emotions and more often than not, our behavior. When we are attached to things and people; how we look and how we feel, our sense of meaning, value and worth is locked into the physical world reality. What we can see, hear, taste, touch and sense with the physical body is just a minuscule aspect of who we are. We are so much more, so much greater than our physical senses can perceive. The ego can block us from the greater understanding of who and what we are in this life. When we see ourselves as separate entities, lone beings, with no connection to something greater than the physical bodies in which we experience the world, we become cautious at best, suspicious at worst, of what everyone else is up to when we encounter them. Should we let our guard down and allow people into our experience and they behave badly, well then, we shift from being suspicious to being un-trusting of everyone and everything. You know you cannot trust people! Look what they will do to you!
We forget that they also consider themselves separate, that they are attached to their own perceptions of what they need and desire and that they too are driven by a lack of trust and fear. Oh, it is a vicious cycle! The only way to end the cycle is to expand our awareness of who we are – – from a spiritual perspective.
When you know better, you do better! We are so much more than a physical body. We are spirit. We are energy. We are each a unique and divine representation of our Creator, our Source, the life we know as God. Within each of us is the same spark of divinity that keeps us connected to the Source and to one another. That same essence, the energy that made you, also made me and everything. For this reason we are all connected to the same life. What affects you, affects me, whether I realize it or not. This is why we connect, at the heart level to certain stories we hear. This is why we connect and are mobilized into action when we hear of certain tragedies and hardships. When the heart opens, when the ego is pushed aside, we can connect, we do trust and we demonstrate the unity of life. Once the heart closes, the ego re-emerges and we revert to our separate individuality. While the ego serves us for certain necessities in life, we are learning that it must not, can not be the driving force. It is not our Source. We just think it is.
Now for the Ego Check. How do you know when you are being ruled by the negative ego? It’s simple. When you perceive life as a process of you against them or, believe they are out to get you; when your needs are more important than theirs or, when their needs are more important than yours, you are under the spell of the ego. If you feel that there is something or someone you must have in order to survive; when you do not trust yourself and the process of life; when you are overly cautious, overly suspicious of people, situations and circumstances, your ego is running amuck! When you live your life to get things or, when things or people become the basis for how you see and value yourself, you are perceiving the world through the eyes of the ego. Whenever you get stuck in concepts of good/bad; right/wrong; fair/unfair; more than/less than; should/should not, get yourself in check! The ego is ruling your consciousness and you are headed for a fall. You are not alone. You have everything you need to do more than survive; you are inherently endowed to thrive in the physical world experience. Living beyond the tricks, traps and deception of the ego is the test we must pass through in life. It is a divine set-up designed to help us remember, right where I am, the fullness of my Source! Fear not! Know that life is on your side.
Monday Matters is a “blog” offered by Iyanla Vanzant to support us all on the journey to being and living a better life.
This week’s Meditation:
Living From Your Center
Available at www.InnerVisionsWorldwide.com
This week’s Reading:
The Prayer For Spiritual Mastery
Available at http://www.paulferrini.com/html/body_mastery_prayer.html
About Iyanla Vanzant:
Iyanla Vanzant, accomplished author, inspirational speaker, talk show host and living testament to the value in life’s valleys and the power of acting on faith, goes behind closed doors and deep inside people’s lives for emotional, riveting conversations in the new hit series- Iyanla: Fix My Life
Iyanla has had a unique life filled with many personal struggles, which she has overcome and used to become stronger. Now, she’s back, helping people fix their lives, using her past to help others’ futures. Secrets will be revealed, truths will be uncovered and emotions will come out as Iyanla teaches us how to pull back the curtain on what is broken in our lives.
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