The Ego. A word that has been used loosely in our society to mean confident, in a more cocky sense. The ego is better described as your conscious mind - who you choose to identify as. The ego is born in childhood, as you learn to control the Id - your primitive, irrational human instinct. Social conditioning helps to mold the ego by teaching yourself what is socially acceptable and what is not. This isn't always a "good" thing as your ego is also responsible for urges to fit in and feel socially accepted. This means shutting down who you authentically are to become a build-a-bear version of yourself.
The ego is closely related to the shadow self - the deepest, darkest version of you. The shadow self is anything about yourself that you wish to keep hidden because the ego tells you these things are socially unacceptable. Choosing to avoid or even disown your ego and shadow self can lead to projection. You may start to project whatever "bad habits" you hold onto others (example:A cheater becoming paranoid that their partner is actually the one cheating). You may even begin to attract people that are everything you dislike about yourself. This is not to be seen as punishment. It is simply the Universe aligning you with yourself to realize what needs to be worked on.
Figuring out how to recognize these patterns and traits is the first step to befriending the ego. However simple this may seem, it can lead to detriment if self awareness is not upheld and shadow work* is not started. The ego is a survival based consciousness - it believes that the beliefs it holds are to keep you safe. One may experience self sabotage once awareness of the ego begins. It may feel like, no matter how hard you try, you just can't break out of your old ways. This is the ego attempting to maintain itself. This is a normal process for growth and some may describe it as a "spiritual attack". It helps to remember that growth is not linear and it will take a few tries to reach the goal.
The key to quieting the ego is awareness and consistency. Learning to listen to and "watch" your thoughts will help you to figure what's really you and what came from social conditioning. Sit quietly and focus on your breathing:
- Your thoughts will seem to take over - let them
- Identify which thoughts are linked to selfishness, fear, pride, desire, judgement, etc. - these are ego based
- Ask yourself if that thought is truly helpful to you and/or others
- In the future, if the thoughts come back: re-remind yourself that you are own a new path
- Remind yourself that slipping into old patterns is normal and it's okay - the key is to remain aware of your thoughts and actions to redirect yourself.
Like any new exercise, this should be a continuous practice as it will take more than one day to truly integrate the ego. Understand that a lot of what your ego is came from your childhood. Accept these beliefs, for they once served you, but learn to release what is no longer needed. One has to learn who they are pretending to be out of past trauma to find who they truly are in this world.
Learning to integrate, or combine to make whole, with the ego is the last step. The ego is still very necessary in this dimension. The ego is not an enemy and is your connection to reality. The goal is to keep the ego from controlling every aspect of your life. Allow the Higher Self, the Intuition and highest projection of you, more room to take over. To let the Higher Self take over is to be free and fluid, there is no unnecessary overthinking involved. It's understanding that a person never stops learning and the world does not revolve around a single person, remembering that we are all divinely connected. Learn to build a relationship with yourself - self trust, self love, and self validation. Continue to check your thoughts and actions, for the ego is smart. Many people will unknowingly develop spiritual egos - an identity of how a spiritual person should behave.
*Shadow Work - the act of uncovering and healing all traumas and negative beliefs suppressed within a person.