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How to finally and completely deal with your ego
Four strategies and a few warnings
“If all people on the planet would start with themselves, we might see quite a shift in the aggressive energy that is causing such a widespread holocaust. “ Pema Chodron
This article is about how to FINALLY break free of your egoic mind. It is bit long but so valuable to waking people up. It is the last of my series of articles on ego.
Now that you know about your egoic mind and you understand the five egoic behaviours (blaming, judging, controlling, seeking, regret/worry) you can now begin to transcend your ego. You can stop being pushed around by your ego.
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The bottom line is this: Your egoic mind, by design and conditioning, will actively engage in all five behaviours. It will always judge, blame, seek, control, worry and regret. It will tell you that you must improve and that things can always be better. And it’s doing all this to protect you. This is how it rolls.
Although removing the ego is not possible, reigning it in is. It is not only possible, but critical to your sanity and happiness. Eventually as you see what is happening, your ego starts to quiet down. You will find that you no longer feel the urge to judge or blame etc. You will get to a place where you no longer need the egoic protections and controls.
Why are behaviours so hard to change?
Many people, when realizing that they are constantly judging, blaming, and seeking try to stop these behaviours immediately. This is not usually possible for several reasons.
First, your thoughts and actions are habitual. They have developed over many years so that they are almost automatic. Thus, they can only be changed with significant awareness and effort. There are thousands of psychologists who have dedicated their lives to figuring out how to change human patterns and habits. Those on the cutting edge, such as Bruce Lipton, suggest that our human programming is pretty much set in stone by the time we are seven years old. As a result there are only a few ways to re-program your mind, such as extensive repetition or re-programming while under hypnosis.
Second, your behaviours are driven by much deeper universal false beliefs or imprints. These exist below your awareness in your subconscious where you cannot see them. Therefore, most attempts to talk yourself out of patterns (e.g. “look on the brighter side”) and use positive thinking and talk-therapy, not only fail to get of the root of the problem, but often keep us on treadmill of self-improvement that actually feeds to ego!
Third, your egoic mind does not have the capacity to wake up, nor does it want to. Because your ego is not self aware, it sees no reason to change. It does not know that it is a false identity (e.g. a psychological construct that’s not real) and does not believe it is doing anything wrong – because it built it! It’s like asking a sword fighter to put down his swords. Indeed, your ego will fight all attempts to change. Why? Because if we wake up, the ego thinks it will die and become useless and irrelevant.
But as the sages all say, the egoic mind was never meant to be the boss. It was designed to be the servant of your larger and infinite self.
Here are some specific strategies to transcend your ego.
Strategy 1. Observe your ego in action
The easiest way to transcend your ego is by observing your ego in action. One way to do this is by
keeping the list of five egoic behaviours (Five Red Flags) handy and memorize them. (See my prior articles for detail on each of five the behaviors.) Then, as you go about your day, simply observe the extent to which you are engaging in these behaviours. Here are the basic questions to ask:
To what extent are you judging others – particularly as good or bad?
To what extent are you blaming others or your circumstances?
To what extent are you seeking “more” or seeking to improve?
To what extent are you trying to control people and events around you?
To what extent are you regretting the past or worrying about the future?
When you self-reflect you might observe a few things happening. First, you may sense feelings of guilt or shame that prevent you from looking at your behaviors. It might not feel great admitting that you are doing certain things, but that should not prevent you from looking at them. Just know this is your ego stopping you.
Second, your mind will probably come up with a hundred excuses for your behavior. There will always be an explanation about why you are acting as you do. This too is the ego with its’ powerful rationalizing mind, so put these excuses aside as you delve into your own behaviours. Your ego can convince you of anything and has a very hard time admitting it was wrong, so push through.
You might also notice specific people or situations that activate your ego. This is very useful information, since it shows where you need to investigate your ego even further. They are gifts to help you wake up.
Another way to observe the ego in action is to take a specific recent irritation and write down all your thoughts and feelings surrounding the situation. Once you have written them all down, then take out a red pen and circle the words that reflect your egoic thoughts. Often my own thoughts are filled with judging and blaming. Its very powerful to see them written down on paper.
Strategy 2. Release your monkey mind
One way that your egoic mind keeps you in its control is by filling your mind with constant chatter. This mind-chatter is referred to as your monkey mind and is a major cause of human suffering, as explained here,
“This thought-chatter is such a normal part of our experience that many of us take it for granted. We’re so immersed in it - and so identified with it - that we don’t even realize it’s there, and we certainly don’t realize how powerfully it affects us. In my view, it’s one of the main sources of psychological suffering. It disturbs our inner world, giving rise to negative thoughts and emotions. It disconnects us from the essence of our being, constantly reinforces our ego-identity and strengthens our sense of separateness.“ Steve Taylor
In dealing with this chatter, it is helpful to realize that you have thoughts zipping through your brain at all times. Once you notice them, you are better equipped to ignore them or deal with them.
A powerful technique I learned was MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) by Jon Kabat Zinn.
I learned to observe my thoughts by seeing them as clouds drifting by. I now watch my thoughts come and go. I realize that I don’t have to believe or attach to any of them. I also learned another very powerful skill of saying to myself, “That’s just a thought” or “That’s just a feeling,” thus enabling me to separate myself from a thought or emotion. This practice took me many years to integrate.
One of the best ways to deal with your ego is to simply turn off your thinking mind. Simply choose to have no thoughts. If thoughts arise, just let them go. Usually, this involves sitting in silence or mediating, but it can also happen spontaneously when you are engaging in intense activity or creating something.
Strategy 3. Talk to your ego
If you want to go bit deeper and surface the underlying reasons why your ego is behaving, please read my upcoming articles on Shadow Work. One of the strategies that some people find it helpful is talking to your ego.
The way to do this is to treat your ego as if it is a separate person. You then talk to your ego and ask her what is going on. You might discover that she is just trying to protect you (please read my article on the Three Roles of the Ego). Indeed, the ego is often called the protective personality. As you discover what your ego needs and what it fears, you can better understand why it is acting out. If you feel like trying it, here are some suggestions:
Pick a particular recent event or situation where you were irritated.
Pretend your ego is a small fearful child and gently ask it to speak to you.
Ask it what it is feeling, what it fears and what it needs.
Tell it that you appreciate all its help at protecting you so far.
Let it know that its (childish) tactics are now standing in the way of your happiness.
Remind it that you’re an adult and can handle problems without its’ controls
Tell it to relax and sit in the back seat now and that you are safe.
I provide a more details on this powerful process (also called separation therapy) in my upcoming articles on Shadow Work.
Strategy 4. Be a witness to yourself
Another strategy is to be a witness to your own egoic behaviours. You do this by mentally stepping outside your physical self and watching your behaviour from a distance, as a neutral observer. (I discuss this strategy in my upcoming articles on living in the Present.) From a distance you can have empathy for yourself and realize that you (or your ego) are freaking out, judging or blaming etc. for a reason.
For example, you might find yourself yelling at your children. If you are able to stop for a moment and step outside of yourself you will witness a parent who is exhausted and overwhelmed. You might also see how your egoic mind has caused you to judge, blame and worry. From this vantage point you have much more capacity to manage your reaction. You may see how yelling is increasing the tension. This is a powerful technique of awareness that truly frees you, as described here,
“To be free, to truly experience life you must come out [of your fortress]. You have to let go and pass through the cleansing process that frees you from your psyche. You do this by simply watching the psyche be the psyche. The way out is through awareness.” Michael Singer p 135
Over time, as you practice this technique, you might find it funny to watch your ego losing control. It can be like watching a spoilt child throwing a tantrum.
Importantly, you will realize that your ego is afraid and trying to protect you. Thus things take on a new shape. However, it can take courage and willpower to watch yourself without reacting to your fears, as explained here,
“But if you really want to break through, you have to be willing to watch the fear without protecting yourself from it. You must be willing to see that this need to protect yourself is where the entire personality [ego] comes from. It was created by building a mental and emotional structure to get way from the sense of fear.“ Michael Singer
Beware, your ego will sabotage you
When dealing with your ego, it’s important to remember that you are NOT your ego. Also remember that your ego refuses to believe this fact. This makes it VERY tricky dealing with the ego.
For example, since your egoic mind thinks it is completely in charge of you, if you suggest that it is wrong (e.g., needs to stop judging and blaming) it feels like death. Thus, it will refuse to engage in anything that will call into question its reality. It will try to convince you that it’s right to judge and blame etc. It will even shame you into compliance!
Dealing with your ego is often like walking in a mine field. Once you pin down one understanding, your egoic mind will play tricks on you. Thus, you must pay attention to what it is doing at all times, as suggested here,
“Your current relationship with your psyche is like an addiction. It is constantly making demands of you and you have devoted your life to serving those demands… Imagine what fun life would be if you didn’t have all those neurotic personal thoughts going on within you.“ Michael Singer
As you better understand how your egoic mind behaves, you not only free yourself from the clutches of your ego, and experience more joy, but best of all, you begin to deal with problems with much more ease. You see difficulties and conflicts from a completely different perspective, making it easier to prevent and resolve problems.
Notice societal pressure
Another potential pitfall is our whole society. I previously mentioned that our whole society supports our ego-based behaviours, not our conscious behaviours. Our whole society has been programmed to believe that things like judging and blaming are not only natural to humans, but useful and necessary. These are lies.
Indeed, David Hawkins, who wrote extensively on consciousness suggests that those who wish to control us prefer if we were unconscious, as explained here,
“Let’s look at what we have already been programmed with and begin to question and dismantle it, and let it go. Let’s wake up and free ourselves from being exploited and enslaved by the negative programming of the world. We will see it for what it is, which is an attempt by others to control us, exploit us, extract our money, our services, our energy, our loyalties and capture our minds.“
Therefore, as you begin behaving is a less judging, blaming and seeking way, others might think that you are weird or, worse yet, crazy.
The best approach to these techniques (any new learning) is to simply try it out slowly. If it resonates and is useful to you, then use it. In any event, the deepest learning is not through the study of words or ideas; it is through direct experience. Your own interaction with these materials will be the proof of its effectiveness.
There ultimately is no security
The other thing, that you may come to experience when you do any inner work, is that there is no real security on this planet - at all. This is a hard pill to swallow. Even though our ego’s entire job in life is to keep you safe, in the end it’s not really possible. It never has been.
Life, by definition, is ever-changing, unpredictable and frankly chaotic. That is what makes it interesting. Thus, the egoic behaviours that are trying to help you control life are really a waste of time and a huge cause of unnecessary suffering. No intellectual techniques can provide you with complete safety, as described here by Osho, “Let life’s insecurity be your religion” and,
“All is insecure. You only pretend that things are secure. Your security is just a camouflage: behind it is all insecurity. Your friends can become enemies; your brothers can betray you; nothing is secure. … If you start living in insecurity you will be surprised: insecurity will be only on the surface, and deep down you will be secure. … Rather than being afraid of it, you start enjoying its thrill-because insecurity is adventurous, it brings new surprises to you, it is a constant venture into the unknown.”
In summary, although you can not destroy your egoic-mind (nor do you want to) your ego can be managed and eventually find its proper place as the passenger and not a driver of your life. By using the four strategies, namely: observe your ego in action; release your monkey mind; talk to your ego; and be a witness to yourself, you will slowly free yourself from your protective personality. It might take some practice and willpower but the benefits are vast, for you and for others in your life.
In my next entries I talk about:
What is the shadow or pain-body?
How does the shadow wreak havoc?
How to integrate your shadow.
This is an excerpt from my upcoming book: “Wake he F Up.” Thanks for joining me on the journey! This substack is completely supported by you the readers. The best way to support me is to buy my books, invite me to speak or become a subscriber here.
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