Have you ever noticed that in the world of spiritual self-help (including this community), the ego (or small self) tends to get a bad rap? And compared to who we really are – our big self – we’ve come to see the ego as less important and sometimes even dangerous?
We try to tame it, shame it, and put it down, especially when we find ourselves suffering with feelings of jealousy, fear, or competitiveness. And so, we feel the need to put the ego in its right place as the servant that it is.
But let’s not be too hard on our ego. After all, it does a great job of trying to protect and alert us to danger what to speak of helping us fit in with society while we’re in this world of form.
What if instead of condemning the ego and always talking to it with a punitive and harsh voice, we develop an affection for it – maybe even an amused affection? Because the truth is, our ego isn’t going away. As long as we’re living in this world of form, it’s going to come along for the ride.
But as much as it ain’t going anywhere, and we can’t fire it, the ego doesn’t have to run the show either, because we know that when it does, we suffer.
So the question for me has always been: how do I work with and make peace with my ego? How do I make sure that my big self takes the lead?
One sure thing I’ve learned as a coach and spiritual seeker over the decades is that it never pays to condemn or hate anything – instead we send it love and kindness. We change our relationship with it. And it’s no different with our ego.
For anyone who is married, you’ll automatically understand that a relationship between husband and wife has a lot of quirkiness to it. I love my husband deeply for many reasons, AND he also has some annoying habits, like leaving used teacups and dishes in his office for days, or not always remembering to unload the dishwasher.
But despite those things that annoy me, I can also strangely love his absentmindedness and even feel bemused at this quirky part of him. I don’t let those things interfere with my love for him. I’ve learned to live with them (as he also does with me!).
I read somewhere that we are all a wise guru on the inside taking care of a mental patient. And that mental patient is our ego. It’s just a scared kid. We can learn to love that quirky kid, and we can send affection and kindness to it and be the wise force of love that we are eternally. And when we practice doing this, we step into our real identity – the great self that we really are.