In certain circles, the ego is considered a bad thing. The word is treated like an epithet, a way to throw shade on someone, as in the phrase “he has a huge ego.”
Even worse, the ego is frequently belittled and dismissed. The term may be used as a way to diminish or brush aside a person’s point of view (often one’s own). As in, “I want more recognition, respect and attention…but that’s just my ego.”
Don’t Force Ego into the Shadows (or It Will Come Back to Haunt You)
Diminishment of ego is not wise for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the ego is far, far heftier than we might imagine, and it’s not wise to merely dismiss or cast aside one’s adversary on the spiritual path as though that won’t come back to haunt us.
In shadow work terms, we know that what we repress, we do at our own peril, as that which we refuse to deal with will grow bigger and stronger in darkness until one day it comes at us as a surprise, packing a powerful punch.
Any aspect of our consciousness that we reject or devalue will come back twofold, and in a form we especially do not appreciate. If we do not accept its blessings, ego will come back as a curse.
Ego Could Be in Your Corner!
There is also a missed opportunity when we take any aspect that’s baked into human experience and think it’s all bad and just try to avoid it.
While acknowledging everything about ego that is troublesome – that it is, by nature, selfish, self-serving, self-absorbed, obsessed, blind, with a tendency towards narcissism – it isn’t inherently bad! Ego turns toxic because we often don’t allow it to do its job out in the open.
Ego is here to help us navigate through the world, specifically through seeing to it that we get our needs met, and occasionally fighting for that, when necessary. Ego is supposed to be self-centered – that’s the whole point of ego.
Ego, when allowed to do its job, is an inner advocate, one who says to us, “I’m going to make sure you get what you need in life, to be able to bring your gifts to this plane of existence.” Ego is, in that sense, a wonderful energy to have in your corner.
Grant Limited Powers to Your Ego
Ego ideally is not permitted to rule one’s life. If ego is allowed to run the show entirely, we will end up in the throes of addiction or otherwise far from spirit. It can, however, serve in a more advisory role to spirit, or other higher, more love-based parts of us.
Ego can be consulted about what it knows best: what I want, why I want it, and why it matters in terms of the world “out there”.
Throw Ego a Bone: Get to the Root of your Ego’s Desires
In a spirit of making peace with your ego, check in with yours through this exercise. Let ego speak honestly and don’t judge.
Step One: Admit What Would Gratify Your Ego
Write a list of things that would deeply gratify your ego. Things like awards, accolades, someone’s respect, even revenge might show up here. Don’t hide your ego from yourself, it’s ok, we all have one too.
Start each sentence with “My ego would really love it if…”
Step Two: Seven Times Down the Rabbit Hole of Your Ego’s Desires
For each of the desires you identified, ask why your ego would want that, 7 times total on the same desire to dig a little deeper. Each time you ask “why do you want that, dear ego?”, answer with another clear statement of ego’s wants: “I want that thing because I want this other thing…”
My ego would love it if I had better skin.
Why do you want better skin?
Then I’d be pretty.
Why do you want to be pretty?
Well…I feel like I’d just be better.
Why do you want to be better?
And so on.
Ask why at least seven times, digging deeper to the root of the desire, or until the ego runs out of deeper reasons (but don’t give up before you have an insight).
Highlight and reflect on any surprises, or hidden real reasons behind the ego’s desires. What does it tell you about who you really are on the inside? Which needs is your ego particularly preoccupied with getting met? Do you approve of that need? If so, could you help your ego meet that need in some way? Can you throw your ego a bone once in a while?
Thanks for reading!