“Ego is something that you come to know - something that you befriend.” – Pema Chodron
The ego is tricky. By definition, it is how you distinguish yourself from others. Therefore it wants you to see yourself solely as an individual, separate from everyone else. It wants you to believe you are the most important person in the world. Conversely, it’s also the negative mind that tells you that you’re the worst person in the world when you mess up or feel like you don’t live up to society’s expectations. However, you are not what your ego believes or says – neither the best or the worst. You just are. Most importantly, you are not separate – you are connected and share a oneness with every other being on the planet.
Stepping Out of One Ego & Into Another
As a spiritual being born into an individual human body you are free to live as you choose. But you, and only you, are responsible for how you live it. Your decisions create both an action and a reaction – some call that karma. We are all gifted free will, and with that we can choose our own path in life. However, the default mindset of our current western society is what I like to call a “Subjective Ego” – an individualistic (mostly negative) mind & ego which controls our thoughts and actions. The Subjective Ego makes every excuse possible to disregard objective reality or stand in the shoes of others to try to understand their opinions & feelings. The Subjective Ego arrogantly tells us that “my individual opinion is the best and only opinion that matters.” This self-controlling mindset keeps us from questioning the status quo path of life. However, when we are able step back and start to question the status quo, we are subconsciously questioning the ego. Out of this subconscious questioning comes the conscious ability to befriend our ego and develop a healthy relationship with it. For the first time, we have the conscious decision (or not) to grow mentally & spiritually to the degree at which we understand ourselves and the world. We can begin to take the first steps on the journey from a Subjective Ego to an Objective Ego.
The more objective you are, the more you can truly understand your strengths & weaknesses and take active steps to improve any characteristic you would like to change for the better. If you are not content with yourself or the world, you can take positive steps to improve those issues. You will begin to grow your consciousness – building upon your strengths & working to better your weaknesses. This spiritual growth comes from a deep level of understanding about yourself and your connection to other human beings and the world. You begin to understand that your decisions and actions affect everyone and everything.
A Subjective Ego sees its decisions as isolated and makes every excuse how and why its actions don’t affect others. It lets the fear of change and the unknown dictate its mindset, which leads back to the path of least resistance/status quo. It sees personal growth as hard work and feels scared or conflicted because it does not know how to take positive steps forward. In the end, this mindset leads us to inaction in working to better ourselves.
Today’s society indoctrinates us with this subjective mindset in which we crave the approval of others and make self-centered, sabotaging decisions without regard for any objectivity. This ultimately leads to a degree of unhappiness because the ego is not letting you be true to who you are. For example, we may choose a career path based on what our family or friends will approve of… or we may know deep down that we badly want to improve our diet & nutrition to feel better but we make excuses anyway. It is ok, we have all done it – there is no judgement here. To take note of our own action or inaction without being cynical allows us to be more understanding and have compassion. When we learn to radically accept & love ourselves as who we are and stop pandering to the wants of others, we grow into the objective mindset. As we mentally embrace this objective mindset, we begin to listen less to our ego’s negative internal dialogue because we understand engaging in this dialogue will simply waste time and not create the positive change & reality we want for ourselves. We see negative dialogue for what it is… distraction and mind chatter. Then we can let these negative thoughts and mind chatter pass like clouds in the sky and steadfastly make the decisions that will lead to positive growth for ourselves & the world.
If You Practice, You Will Find Your Way on the Path
There is no one right path on the journey to an Objective Ego. However, it often starts with some version of a mindfulness or meditative practice. It could be any combination of Meditation, Journaling, Yoga, Breath work, Movement/Exercise, walking in nature, etc. It is recommended to start slow with some guidance or a group class to learn how to focus your mind’s attention for more than a few seconds, which is essential for sharpening our mind and controlling our ego. After learning the basics of mindfulness, you are ready to explore for yourself and practice meditation in any of its forms without need for guidance if you so desire. Always remember the truth that “You are your own guru – the answers are within yourself!” The ultimate goal of meditative practice is to keep the attention focused on the breath or any object/point of awareness. If the mind starts to wander simply bring your awareness back to your breathe or point of awareness. You are simply “training & exercising your mind” to form the habit pattern of living in the present moment. The most glaring sign that this practice is making a difference is your outlook of the world. Are you now calmer and more reasonable? Are you more confident than you were before? Meditative practices have a way of balancing our emotions – they allow us to empathize better with the world around us. Our relative priorities begin to shift to the intangible important things (Health, Loved ones, etc.) rather than the tangible worldly items (Wealth, cars, etc.). We start to focus on what truly makes us happy and what makes a difference to the world.
As you walk the path on your journey to an Objective Ego, you realize more and more that you have the opportunity to guide your own life. Life starts to look like a blank canvas with the objective mindset and you realize that YOU are the one you’ve been waiting for to purposefully paint it!
When you can feel & understand the oneness you share with all other beings, THAT is when you can really start to develop and grow into a more Objective Ego & mindset. You can make the changes you desire to positively affect yourself, other beings, and the world in the most positive way possible.