When most of us think of the idea of the ego, we think of words like “egotistical” or “arrogant.” What most donít understand is that the same ego that leads people to boast,† self-inflate, name drop, and preen around with self importance can manifest as just the opposite.† When you wallow in self-doubt, act like youíre not good enough to belong, self-flagellate, or otherwise diminish yourself, thatís not humility. Itís more ego.
So what do I mean by ego?† Iím not talking about the Freudian definition that breaks your psyche into the ID, ego and superego. Iím also not talking solely about the part of you that tries to make you superior to others. Iím talking about the part of you that thinks it is separate from Oneness/The Universe/ All That Is. This illusion of separateness may lead you to believe that youíre distinct and not connected, and because of this illusion, your ego will try to make everything and everyone either “better than” or “worse than” you.
The ego has two faces of the same coin. If your ego deems you “better than,” youíll prance around with self importance, thinking youíre all that and nobody else quite measures up. If your ego deems you “less than,” youíll criticize yourself, diminish yourself, and convince yourself that youíre not worthy of lifeís blessings or the company of those “better than” people. Neither are who you are at the root of the part of you I call your†Inner Pilot Light.
How My Ego Shows Up
I know this from personal experience. For six years now, Iíve been working on becoming aware and witnessing how my ego (I call her†Victoria Rochester) shows up. Iím no longer blind to much of how she shows up, but damn if the girl doesnít still show up often! Most of the time, Iím able to gain enough distance to realize sheís not me, sheís just a part of me, and I have a choice about whether or not I let her rule my decisions. But every now and then, I fall back into old unconscious patterns and Victoria takes the drivers seat and goes on a rampage. (Itís not pretty.)
I used to think I had to kill Victoria in order to live a peaceful, joyful life. But I now realize Victoria has served me and will continue to be a part of my psyche. If I try to deny that she exists, she only gets naughtier. So instead, I try to treat her like a beloved child who misbehaves often. I keep her in check with a firm hand but a lot of self acceptance and love. I canít beat her into submission. I have to love her into compliance.
And youíll have to do the same with your ego.
How Does Your Ego Operate?
See if any of these thoughts sound familiar.
- I never fit in. Iím not like the others.
- Iím not as good as her, but Iím†way better than him.
- I donít deserve the things I want.
- Thereís something inherently wrong with me.
- If you want anything done right, you have to do it yourself.
- If I donít force what I want, it wonít happen.
- Damn, I just accomplished this great thing! Look how special I am!
- I donít feel good enough to be here, so I need to prove that I belong.
- Iím not worthy of being with that person.
Youíre Special But Youíre Not Special
All of these thoughts arise from the ego because they donít acknowledge that youíre special but your not special. Youíre special because you have within you a Divine spark, a little piece of God, and that makes you inherently special. And youíre not special because we all have this, which means that no spark is “better than” or “worse than” another.
Think of it. If weíre all little sparks of divinity and therefore inherently special, what would make you special enough to be not worthy, not good enough, not awesome?
It makes me think of the Marianne Williamson quote:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ĎWho am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?í Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people wonít feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. Itís not just in some of us; itís in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Fear is always a function of your ego, both the fear that you are inadequate and the fear that you are powerful beyond measure. Trust me, your Inner Pilot Light knows betterÖ
The Illusion of Celebrity “Specialness”
Itís weird to be in the public eye these days. People project all of this stuff onto you, and because you have a New York Times bestselling book or a public television special, they try to make you “better than” or “special.” It can feel very distancing, actually. Very lonely from the perspective of the ego.
But itís all an illusion. Iím not “better than” those who come to see me when I speak. Iím not “worse than” the wise, beautiful mentors who guide my way.
The same is true for you. You are no “better than” or “worse than” any other living being, because we are all connected by a Matrix of Light that creates the web of our collective consciousness. You are just as essential- and no more essential- to that web than anyone else.
Step Into Your Inner Pilot Light
When you do the challenging work of learning how your ego operates, you benefit not only your life, but the lives of all you touch. You protect the planet from the unconscious, patterned way so many of us affect the world. Curbing your ego (with love) is how you help heal the planet in your own individual way.
If youíre not sure how your ego operates, try reading†The Wisdom of the Enneagram, which categorizes nine personality types based on how your ego operates. I am a pretty classic Seven. Have any of you done Enneagram work? What type are you? How has working with the Enneagram affected you?