“The ego is the false self-born out of fear and defensiveness.” -John O’Donohue
What is the ego? Typically the ego is your idea or your opinion of yourself, Especially your feelings of your own importance and your abilities. In other words, the ego is your self-image; your social mask; it is the role you are playing. This social mask of yours strives on approval of friends, family, and society at large. You play many roles, a role of a brother, a role of a friend, a role of a businessman, a role of a parent and so forth. In many of these roles, you either get identified with them or just use a mask to hide your true self and intentions behind the role you are playing. The ego is very subtle, ego is made up of thoughts and memories of your past and desires, ambitions and wants. So whether you are aware of it or not it is with you every moment. Whilst growing up our ego has been strengthed by friends and family, through compliments, acceptance and so forth by someone you see as significant. However, when one becomes identified with the labels one has been told they are they become trapped in the illusion that it is real, that maybe you are this person after all.
Whether it’s religious beliefs, morals, or values, they all stem from the ego. Anything that you identify yourself with is the ego. A mind made boundary or limitation. Whilst I was doing my dissertation research on happiness from a cultural perspective I found many girls that were suppressing themselves from being who they really want to be because of conditions that were put by their parents on the basis of religion. They rather follow their mind, than how they feel. It is absurd, but this is the world we live in. When one starts listening to the heart instead of assumptions, fear, and judgments of the mind that is when one really starts living. That’s what you call living beyond the ego, where the mind does not interfere.
The ego lives in the past. Whether it be bad memories or good memories, many people still hold as much importance to it now as they did back then. The emotion of that memory further enhances the experience of believing it is real now also, you feel as if you are the same person, you still feel like a victim every time you remember it. It’s hard to let go of negative memories of the past. Man tends to hold this belief that one day they will find the right person to share this memory with, so they continue to be closed off until the perfect one comes into their life and listen to their venting of how hard life has been for them. The more the memory is repeated in the mind the more one becomes identified with the story and image it creates about them, this leads to the person feeling down and sorry for oneself, or really angry about why it happened to them.
When you hold on to something dearly, have you noticed you always want to vent about it to others, talk about it to others always wanting to express yourself about who you really are, but you are hesitant, you start thinking, fear arises and then you stop, you suppress what you want to say because you don’t know how the other will take your story, you become afraid of being judged, so you keep quiet about it and close yourself up more. This is common, once you are aware of who you are as a person you will realize, how closed off you really are. One can only be free of their identification (ego) with their past self if they let go of their past and accept it as it was. Attachment to negative memories of the past only leads to suffering. To be free of the past you have to be clear about what exactly is it that you have not yet forgiven yourself for, what memory brings you the most pain. Once you are aware of this you need to go deep within, back to the memory and see it for what it actually was, without any judgements, once you become aware, who’s fault it was during your search within you will realise, what you had been holding on to for so long was a waste of energy. The more you dive deep into your memories, the more you will understand about your original self, which is beyond the ego.
The want for more is also the ego. Everyone strives to be a better person, according to the norms of society, according to the trend. Whether it’s with fitness, with how much money one earns to what sort of profession one is in, it all leads to a development of identification which sooner or later leads to a superiority complex, once achieved. However, it’s all fake, as once achieved man is still very hollow inside, empty, suffering. It’s an addiction, once you achieve one thing on your goal list, you want to achieve more and more and that’s when greed arises. People carry on being confused and think that once they have achieved, everything will be good, one will be finally satisfied and happy, till then struggle, strive and achieve whatever goal set. In that struggle, one dismisses ones own feelings, suppresses, represses and carries on moving forward. This makes a man miserable. Man has become a robot because of that, a machine that is empty, a machine that is afraid of feeling, whatever they do. Ask yourself, these goals and ambitions who are they really for, whose sense of approval are you still seeking? When you become aware of that and deeply understand it you will realize that most of your life, you have been acting and doing things out of approval for your parents, friends, and family. For approval of who you are really, is it not? Life is simple why are you still struggling because of your mind. It’s good to have goals but if you don’t enjoy the process, what’s the point of it, if your heart isn’t in any of the work you actually do, whats the point working towards it at all.
Re-evaluate your life. Understand that once you go beyond your ego when all insecurities and fears of the past and future are dropped that is when you will truly start living life. Till then you will just be doing things unconsciously to please other people that don’t deal with the same thoughts and feelings you do. If you really want to live, understand yourself, stop getting influenced by other people, you don’t owe anyone anything. Be you, be free. Stop looking for happiness outside, when you move past your past self you have identified with so long that’s when you will truly be happy. Understand your past and let go of it. Understand what you identify yourself as, be aware of the words and thoughts that go on repeating itself on a day to day basis, what are you trying to hold on to, what image do you try to portray to others, see it’s originality consciously. Be confident. Be original.
“The ego relies on the familiar. It is reluctant to experience the unknown, which is the very essence of life.” – Deepak Chopra
Enough for today.