Today I met my ego, and it wasn’t a pretty sight. I knew it wouldn’t be and I wasn’t surprised, but it was very interesting and hopefully a step towards healing it and teaching it its place in my life.
Ego is something we all have. Even the great spiritual leaders who people claim have no ego have one. The difference is, theirs is in its rightful place.
It has taken me some time to understand what ego is for and now I realised it can be seen as being like a pet dog. If it is untrained it will take charge and rule the roost, but if put into its correct place and trained it will become a loyal protector.
Just like the mind is for analysis and understanding, but not for compassion and heart led situations, our ego is to show is that we have an equal standing in society. It helps us set boundaries, marking out what is reasonable and what is not. When those boundaries are crossed, like a guard dog, our ego steps forward assertively defending us.
The problem is, when we are young so is our ego, it is like a puppy looking to the elder dogs around it for guidance; the elder dogs being the egos of the people around us while we are growing up. If that puppy is nurtured and shown how to be it will become our loyal friend; but sadly so many of those elder dogs teach the wrong lessons just like they were taught when they were growing.
Of course this is all a metaphor, but you can see how it applies to the world around us. As we grow up we learn how to use our ego from the situations we find ourselves in. We may learn from the way our parents treat others as well as how they treat us. Maybe we are taught that the best way to survive is to be quiet and submissive to those who have stronger wills than us. Maybe we learned that if we throw our weight around we can get what we want. Whatever we are taught we often move out into the world with an ego that is already badly taught and is often in charge of our reactions to the world around us.
Moving from young childhood our world expands and we meet up with other people who have badly trained egos. We learn we can either manipulate those that are submissive or we have to back down to those that are stronger than us. Those of us who are weak may also learn to hide the weakness and pretend to be braver or stronger. There may also come a time when we become sick of being trampled on and lash out to assert ourselves. Unfortunately, by this point we have no real idea how to do this so we make bad choices; just like a dog that has been kicked too many times our ego causes us to “bite” anyone who comes near us.
By the time we are adults our ego is so confused we can end up lost in choices that we simply don’t understand. We have no set boundaries and we allow some to cross them and hurt us and we keep others at arms reach. While we are in control of our lives we can fool ourselves into thinking our egos are fine, but as soon as we come across someone that challenges our view of ourselves we can react badly.
Many of us continue with this for the rest of our lives. For those that have powerful egos life may appear easy on the surface. They may get what they want by force, but deep down I wonder how happy they are.
For those that have learned to hide or submit to stronger egos it can be hard to find their way through the world. A part of them, deep down, tells them they are worth more than they could wish for, but the greater life teachings say that they are worthless and must accept their position.
At this stage I see my ego for what it is and I am simply learning to accept it. Accept its perfection as part of who I am and a result of the life I have lived. In time I hope to start teaching this old dog new tricks in the hope that between us we can find our rightful place in the scheme of things. It is likely to be a slow process of understanding, compassion and facing fear and guilt, but in time I am certain it will be worth it.