Ego. What a word. What exactly is it, or might we ask, who is it?
For some, there is so much weight placed upon this tiny word. We fear being called an egomaniac, thus the subject of ego is a sensitive one to navigate. Well, sometimes. Other schools of thought see ego as simply an analytical term meant to describe a function of the mind and its mysterious design.
This word ego and its two different meanings are often shunned despite the fact that ego is unavoidably human. But is ego really that bad?
Personally, I like to see where the differences meet in the middle. That was, in fact, an egoic statement, although it seems pretty selfless, right? Yes, but it was about what “I” think.
As a Freudian or Jungian psychoanalyst might agree, the ego is innocently summed up as the personal identity relating to I. From this perspective, it is those only with inflated egos that give the ego a bad reputation.
Ego is just a casual description of the subconscious and unconscious mind. Then again, the ego is a part of our humanity that gets closely monitored across all cultures, for good and bad reasons alike.
Deeply embedded into us collectively, we’ve grown negative connotations with this word, like the previously stated egomaniac or the less dubious egoic.
For establishing a grand societal order. The original law that rules today stems from ancient religious texts.
The Western world’s origins are predominantly built upon the Ten Commandments of The Old Testament, and its ever-evolved Judeo-Christian bible that ironically began in the East where Muslim beliefs stayed on their own path.
Other predominant thought systems of Eastern origin stem from Hindu scriptures and the Buddha’s teachings where the ego and its urges risk being seen as shameful and eliminating all chances of spiritual development. To be fair, all the schools of thought ask important questions in search of the meaning of life, and attempt to offer guidelines for society to build upon.
But, who wrote the rules?
Nonetheless, this thing we all call ego is ingrained in us all, whatever we believe in. In today’s world, cultures collide. An example is what became the new-age perspective.
It’s important to note that although the two don’t see the same, new-age philosophy is as equally a Western programming as is psychology. The only difference is that new-age rhetoric embellishes ancient Eastern wisdom while psychoanalysis created a new concept.
Yes, it is true that yogic practices or a 60s-inspired psychedelic ego death can supply us a glimpse into nirvana where we transcend the ego and experience Universal Oneness, but is my ego really that bad? My “highest-self” would love to know.
It is all so conflicting. “I think, therefore I am” egoic—the original sin.
This psychological versus spiritual misunderstanding of the ego gets complex in a world where people, now more than ever before, are consciously trying (and sometimes fighting) to be more understanding of others. This spiritual perspective goes deeper into the human psyche, for even an atheist’s humanitarian lens would surely feel the same about egomania.
The major dilemma is that people, on a mass level, put themselves down out of fear of being seen as acting from their ego. Well-intentioned people keep themselves small while self-entitled people grab high positions—often at the expense of others. Meanwhile, we all complain about it.
Some say that a major key to success is believing in yourself. Your Self. The ego is the self. The I that is me. As a whole society, I suggest we redefine what success looks like, and how it gets distributed. But until then, and if you’ve read this far, I hereby grant you permission to think about yourself first. At least sometimes. Maybe all of the time; it depends on one’s moral compass.
There are people who strike a beautiful balance between both sides. Alas, the many angles to understand this word ego.
Remember my “egoic statement” earlier, when I mentioned seeing where the differences meet in the middle? Ultimately, I wish we could update collectively with some new definitions.
So let’s do it. We need you. Don’t be afraid of your ego. Just keep your eye on them.
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