Some say, you need at least a bit of ego to survive in this world. A little bit of ego is healthy. But is it really? What if it’s blocking the quality of your life?
A few years ago I attended a class by Didi Sudesh in which she talks about subtle ego. If you walk the spiritual path and have done some soul searching in your life, you may think you are free from ego but when you listen to this, you may not be so sure anymore. It’s easy to recognize the BIG ego but if you are looking for a more profound clean up, here it is.
Now why do I want to be free of ego? What’s in it for me?
Happiness. It’s as simple as I can put it. Imagine a weight falling of your shoulders, you can breath again, stop thinking about useless matters and feel love for those around you, no matter who they are or what they do. Could your heart handle that? Imagine you don’t feel down anymore, feeling no more failure and loss, and thinking you’re not good enough is something of the past. Experience the total relaxation by saying “Really I am nobody”.
What does ego mean?
The Meaning of ego in spiritual terms ego is body-consciousness versus soul-consciousness. It’s all that you THINK who you are or think who you have to be. Mostly who you think you are and who you really are don’t match. The bigger the gap between who you think you are and who you really are, the bigger the ego. So in short, ego is a gap in your mind. You think you are the roles that you play:
- I am a mother
- I am a designer
- I am a teacher
- I am ….
but roles are not human, they are attributes, mere temporary identities that stick to you like post-it’s. Who you think you are usually starts with I am and connects with a role that you play. Who you really are is so much more. You’re a soul with a great history and a lot of experience on earth that has encountered love, respect, wisdom, peace and silence. Because of over-identifying with the roles that we play in our current birth, the roles that are connected to our body, we have a limited vision of our selves. It’s OK to play a role, we can’t escape from that. Running away from our responsibilities that come with those roles doesn’t bring any freedom. On the contrary. Yet, the idea that we are the roles that we play is exactly what limits us, blocks us from real interaction with others and with ourselves. In the worst case it can create a wall around our heart which is the recipe for loneliness and depression. In The Drama of the Gifted Child, Alice Miller describes depression as ‘Mourning for the loss of the self’.
Digging deeper – how to recognize ego
- ego has no heart feelings, no love
- ego has no mercy
- ego comes through the door of comparison, competition and criticism
you want to show that what you are doing is better than what others are doing
- ego can not appreciate
- ego is ignorance
- ego does not share your value, it compares your values with others
- ego has expectations, which is the biggest trap in relationships
- ego is not value based
- ego can not tolerate praise of others, unless we are attached to those that are praised
- ego doesn’t let go seeing the failing of others
- ego can not receive correction, only give correction
- ego inspects others, self respect corrects oneself
- ego is very powerful outwardly but very week inwardly
- ego makes it difficult to establish relationships based on love
The opposite of ego is love, self respect and humility. Not the played humility, which is equal to ego (oh I am so humbled) but the humility that values it self and has no urge to prove it. From this space comes creativity. In real humility there isn’t even the feeling that you’re not good enough because being the judge of that is ego in itself. The total misconception of who we really are feeds the unbalance of our self image with narcissism is on one part of the scale and depression on the other part. To me, self love is self knowledge and from my perspective ego is synonym to stupidity and the extreme form of ego, narcissism, the total inability to look in the mirror of your heart.
How to let go of ego
Of course talking about ego is easy. We all have it to some extend to another, no one is free from ego unless your name is God. So we are all in the same boat and it doesn’t help fixing other peoples ego. The only way to diminish your ego, your false idea of who you are, is introspection through meditation. I could say meditation only but you also need knowledge and to me, introspection is meditation + knowledge. So besides meditating also do some (self) study. There are various methods to unravel the games that your ego has played to survive, like for example shadow work. An easy method is taking one of the points above and observe throughout the day if to which extend you are using it. For example: who have I been criticizing today, what did that person do to upset or irritated me. Was I projecting my own weakness on that person? Often what we are critical of in others is our own weakness. Was someone praised and did that annoy me? Was I comparing myself or others? Did I feel the urge to compete with someone?
If you are planning to empty your bucket of ego, it makes sense to fill that bucket with good stuff otherwise it will leave you empty. Real, genuine values of every human are:
Everybody has these qualities, young or old. They come with the package and this is who we really are. In meditation you can focus on silence or peace and visualize yourself as being complete, tranquil and loving.
Am I ego-less yet?
How would you recognize a person with less or hardly any ego? How would you know if your ego is decreasing? A person with lesser ego will become less upset when they are criticized or do not succeed in career life. If you start noticing peoples qualities instead of their defects and enjoy their success in life and not feel jealous, you are on the right track. You will not feel less angry or irritated in traffic when you have to wait for others, less irritated in general and you will enjoy your own company more and more.
Learn more in this video about letting go of subtle ego: