What a journey this life is, searching for answers, finding your way through – fumbling, falling, getting back up and experiencing the joy when things manifest just as you said you wanted them to. You have a friend here too; you carry this friend everywhere with you. It is your constant companion, you share every experience intimately. Its name is Ego and it loves to talk. For many of us, it never shuts up; it has an opinion about everything, about everyone, and mostly about you.
A common belief in the personal development world is that we must get rid of the ego or “free ourselves from the prison of the mind”. The challenge with this approach is that there is an underlying assumption that ego is bad, or that we are somehow not free already, and so great energy is now directed towards “taming the ego” or pushing it away.
The more processes and techniques you engage in to rid yourself of this burden, the more power you give to it. As long as you are focussed on ridding yourself of the ego, it remains an ever more loud and powerful voice. I’m not saying that you should stop meditating or doing many of the techniques that you have been doing, what I’m saying is that if you are doing those techniques from a space of wanting to tame or rid yourself of ego, you are wasting your time. On the other hand, doing those techniques and processes because you love to do them is completely different. In short, meditate because you love to do it, not because you think it’s going to get you some kind of result.
Ego actually has a very important role. It keeps you alive. It’s the voice that says to you “don’t jump off that cliff, you’ll die” or “that strange looking berry looks poisonous, better not eat it.” It has thoughts which trigger emotions and feelings in your body, it holds your belief systems, it holds you here, in this current reality. It will do everything in its power to keep you alive.
It’s just, there’s been a bit of a mix up. At some point in your life – usually early on, it’s made some assumptions about what is safe/unsafe, good/bad, right/wrong, based on experiences that were had at the time or things that you heard or saw. Now, in adulthood, ego still carries those same assumptions, even though they may not be true. It asserts its role of keeping you safe. This often shows up as sabotage, not achieving your goals, beating yourself up and can even manifest as physical illness in the body which can be used as an excuse not to move forward with your life. It’s crafty, because now that you are working on yourself and going for what you want, it needs to be more convincing, and it absolutely believes that it has your best interests in mind. It thinks it’s keeping you safe by stopping you from doing what you need to do. It is mistaken.
This is where focus is important. Rather than fighting the ego or attempting to rid yourself of it, just notice it. See it there, even have a conversation with it. “I see you, thank you for keeping me safe, and now I choose to go ahead anyway.” Stay focussed on your end result, on the vision. Notice the ego stepping in to do its part, acknowledge it, and keep moving forward. See the ego as your friend, learn to love it, and know that it only has as much power as you give to it.