- Kim Moodey
Ego: Friend or Foe?
I've grown accustomed to crying on my bathroom rug for the past few months after getting home from work and I'm feeling really good about it.
After working with two therapists over the course of this last year, I'm just now starting to see the benefits of feeling my emotions. I've been adamantly learning about the uglier side of my behavior. Questioning why I am so easily hooked onto situations with people pertaining to dismissal, being overlooked, under-valued and ignored. On the surface, it's easy to say that any individual would feel ill-feelings toward these situations but why, for me, are these actions so brutally hurtful? Why am I broken so successfully and for so long - leaving me to lament for days? The question I've been thoroughly searching for throughout all of this is how do I move past these feelings with grace and peace, untouched and strong? Throughout my personal research, I find that these hooks are most dominantly situated around my ego. For the past year, I've seen my ego as the enemy of my soul - the perpetrator of my own happiness and ease. Yet, I'm confused by this because I thought that the ego's main purpose was to serve as a protector from harm. Why then, does the ego work so arduously to keep us tied to the depths of our own personal suffering? There must be a better understanding of the ego and so I continue the analysis of higher consciousness, awareness and mindfulness.
Ego: Friend or foe?
I have a couple's therapist that my partner and I see every Wednesday and I have a personal therapist that I virtually speak with once a week. Both therapists have drawn strong attention towards the ego and how it keeps us hooked within situations pertaining to our childhood. As our protector, our ego reminds us of emotionally dangerous situations that have happened to us within our past and therefore works to keep us away from feeling those unwanted feelings in the future. The ego is really good at creating stories in our minds that will tie new situations to old situations, allowing us to paint stories onto others in hopes of steering us away from that ancient pain. The ego will also tie new situations to memories of childhood reminding us why we are undeserving of success, love and higher purpose. What baffles me most about all of this - if our ego is meant to protect us from harm then why has our ego evolved to keeping us tied to the train tracks of emotional harm?
Our ego is just one component within our complex system of consciousness and unconsciousness. What I'm finding is that it takes a lot of research and development to learn about our ego and within that work comes a lot of pain.
[Cue sad violin music and my bathroom rug]
If we can dedicate thorough time in learning about our ego, our past and what our ego migrates back to when bad situations arise then we can learn to navigate our ego alongside our more observant and mindful aspect of the brain. That's the goal - mindfulness.
I believe the ego to be a friend. The ego is not a foe. Our ego works to protect us but does so in an elementary way. Our ego is slightly stupid - the bottom feeder of our complex emotional eco-system. If I want to become the most loving, compassionate version of myself, then I must learn my ego and I must have courage to stand idle within the darkest of my emotions. Fear is a choice. Anger is a choice. I know for myself that when I'm angry about something, it's very difficult to choose peaceful actions. It's very difficult to not slam that door, to not throw my shoes on the floor, to not want to punch myself in the leg. A tantrum - that's what I chose to do when I'm angry. That's what I chose to do when I was a child and that choice is still alive within me as an adult. When I look deep into what that really means, I see that I've been hurt, overlooked, ignored, unloved, dismissed just like my younger self was years ago and that pain is still hurtful. That pain is still alive in me today. The little girl that I used to be was hurt - she felt unloved, unheard, unimportant - and she never knew how to feel those emotions. She didn't understand the development of her ego but how could she? She didn't even know her multiplication table yet! Little kids don't have the cerebral cognition of understanding deeper levels of consciousness. The pain that was felt in our younger years needed to be reconciled and yet we left it unresolved.
We left it buried deep into the sand of the soul and now our painful muck helps the bottom feeder ego thrive as an adult.
Let us keep in mind that bottom feeders play an integral part within emotional ecosystems. What our ego is doing is pointing us in the direction of knowing where we need to focus our attention. I believe our ego to be our friend in that it quickly and efficiently directs us in the direction of where we were hurt within our past. From there, we can go back to resolve the abandoned emotions of our childhood.
Our dreams are unconscious information provided to us from our ego. If we pay attention to how we wake up feeling after a night of dreaming, I believe this is crucial information provided to us from our ego. It's like our ego is spoon feeding us the answer behind our jealousy, betrayal and resentment. I often wake up feeling anxious and angry. I have recurring dreams about either swimming in the middle of the ocean with sharks underneath me, walking through the wilderness in Africa trying to escape from large predators or traveling through a jungle walking quietly so that I don't draw the attention of poisonous animals to myself. My ego is clearly trying to tell me something because all of these dreams have a commonality. I'm always trying to be as quiet as possible in these dreams, trying not to cause attention. Trying to escape the dangers around me - going unseen. Is this why I always wear black in my waking life? It is! I hate wearing colorful clothes because every time I do, someone comments on it. "Hey, you're so colorful today!" "You look great in red." "Oh that dress is very colorful!" I hate the attention. Just don't see me. Please don't talk to me. Please don't notice me. Black clothing is unnoticeable; invisible. I used to think I liked wearing all black because it's ok to spill coffee on but that's only a minor percentage of the real reason I wear it all the time - I don't want to be noticed. And yet, I am a natural leader - someone who thrives by standing in front of the crowd and leads the human population to greater change. This is my calling and I strive to be a leader within my life. And yet my ego reminds me that I want to be unseen. My ego is pulling on my arm sleeve so blatantly saying, "hey, this is what you need to resolve from your past - remember when you were made to feel like you don't matter and you believed it? Look at it. Resolve it.
Ego is our friend.