Expand Your EgoJanuary 18th
The ego has fallen into disfavor. Big, bulging egos are obnoxious, while little, dinky egos broadcast low self-esteem. Spiritual teachers speak of “egoless” states, while personal coaches urge us to replace ailing egos with winning mindsets.
An ego is really just a self-concept in relation to the world. It’s a perception and projection of what we think we are. Being “egoless” is probably impossible unless we’re in a vegetative state. Even in dreams, we’re expressing the beliefs we hold about ourselves.
If we see ourselves as inferior, dysfunctional losers, we’ll convey that by skulking about and making a mess of everything we do. If we think we’re the center of the universe, we’ll behave like spoiled toddlers, demanding satisfaction of every need. In both cases, the ego is in a negative state.
A strong and positive ego comes from right thinking in combination with a healthy and realistic view of ourselves and the world. When we can see ourselves as teachable, having great potential, and being about as good as everyone else, we’re in a position to move forward. If we think we’re constitutionally incapable of being anything but jerks, we’ll probably be the most successful jerks on the planet.
The only catch is a little thing called the subconscious mind. It works for us or against us depending on how it’s programmed. The ego is a reflection of what’s going on in the subconscious.
Let’s say you grew up in a family where every action was criticized or condemned. You learned to stand up for yourself at every turn. This programming served you well as a kid, but as an adult it makes you so defensive that you’re driving everyone nuts. You interpret everything as a life-threatening attack. You don’t see the problem because you’re behaving in a way that once worked well. In truth, you’re behaving in a way that’s not appropriate for current conditions.
The subconscious is like a personal computer. The currently running software determines how we function. You might consciously believe you’re a good person who deserves the best, yet your life is full of squalor. That’s a sign your subconscious PC is running programs of limitation and lack. The original software might need prosperity updates, or you may have been infected with an unworthiness virus.
Tracking down negative subconscious programming takes work. How can we clean out what’s corrupted and install new software to better serve our needs? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Get feedback. If people are reacting to you negatively, it means that you’re doing something to create that reaction. Ask friends what they think. It’s humbling, but you’re likely to learn things that can help you change.
2. Observe your behavior. Does fear of failure keep you from taking risks? Do you complain without taking action for change? Do you try to change circumstances without changing yourself?
3. Examine your dreams. In dreams, the subconscious has free reign. Do you dream of playing the victim, being unprepared, or running away? Dreams often mirror our characteristic ways of dealing with life.
4. Monitor your reactions. Does your ego go into an uproar if someone cuts you off in traffic? Do you have a panic attack if your best friend doesn’t return your call within the hour? Symptoms of ego distress often show up in out-of-proportion reactions to everyday events. If you can reprogram the way you interpret life, you can choose a response that’s healthy and realistic.
5. Acknowledge your feelings. The subconscious expresses itself in emotions. Do you feel upset if your every post on Facebook doesn’t get at least ten comments? You may have an excessive need for external validation. Are you willing to let it go? Can you be happy with only 3 comments, or none at all?
6. Practice positive affirmations. It sounds corny, but do it anyway. It’s one of the easiest ways to reprogram the subconscious.
There’s no escaping the ego. The only question is whether we want one that serves our purposes and helps us achieve our goals. A good ego is fed with ego-friendly food. Lovingly tended, it helps us to hold our own in the world and broadcasts a positive message about who and what we are.