I sometimes throw around the word Ego. But I’m really not fond of the common definition or the connotation.
This is a throwback to my upbringing, to being raised in a belief that there is some inherently bad or broken part of us that, as humans, we must fight against (fight against it in ourselves and fight against it in others, namely in our children).
I don’t believe this.
I do not believe there is a soul on this planet who is naturally bad, born terrible, or inherently evil.
There are people who do some terrible, diabolical, tragic things. But I hesitate to even use the word “evil” to describe them, as this just seems to me a cop-out, as if I can all easily explain away such behaviors with a sweep of the hand, brushing off the deeper cause and responsibility we all have (to one another) by labeling someone as “just the way they are”.
That’s what “Ego” in the common spiritual sense of the word conveys to me. A generalization. A simplified reason for why we are the way we are, or why we do the things we do.
It’s not everyone’s connotation or intention, certainly not, but it is what comes up for me based on my own stories.
And yet, I find myself using the word myself.
But I use it in a different way.
Because what others see as “ego”, as this need to war with themselves, to take blame (not to be confused with responsibility), a reason they must work hard to change…
I just see fear. A need for understanding of ourselves, of our vulnerability that causes us to lash out in a broken attempt to protect ourselves (or others). A need for compassion for ourselves as we make mistakes, act imperfect – an important experience to our ability to learn.
What gets called “Ego” always boils down to fear.
We insist on our rightness, because we’re afraid of being wrong. We fight with our children, because we’re afraid of being judged or seeing them hurt or messing things up. We put on our big talk and incessantly point out our goodness, because we’re terrified we’re actually not good enough. We lack trust – for ourselves, for others, for the process of Life – because we’re afraid of what will happen if we’re not micro-managing every nuance of our lives.
This isn’t “Ego”, some sneaking demon hidden in our hearts hellbent on destroying us.
This is vulnerability, imperfection, challenges, spiritual growth and the fear it brings up in us, what we’re afraid it means or says.
And we’ve learned that it must say something (about us, about others, about Life) based on the lessons we’ve absorbed, what we interrupted )based on what Life has shown us) about how we “should” be, all of which has been created based on the belief that what we actually are is inherently bad, evil, not good enough. And so we’ve learned we must fight to prove we’re otherwise (or prove them right, which is a topic for another day).
What if it were another way?
What if, instead of believing we are bad and seeing our badness and going to war with our badness, we all believed we were inherently whole and wonderful and worthy and good. And that even when we make mistakes, we see those mistakes as whole and wonderful and good in their ability to teach us and then show us how to recognize and amplify and make greater our whole, wonderful, goodness?
Doesn’t it stand to reason that if we believed we are whole, wonderful, and inherently worthy people who are capable of making mistakes (mistakes that don’t change Who We Are), we would then see our wholeness and our wonder and our worthiness and our goodness, instead of how terrible we all are? That we would see it in others too?
And then what would there be to fear or fight against?
Wouldn’t there only be the embracing of Life and learning and support for our real (whole, wonderful, good) selves and one another, even when we’re perfectly imperfect?
This is what I believe and experience.
When I see myself or someone else as inherently wrong, or inherently unworthy of trust until I or she or he proves otherwise, or inherently selfish until I (my fear, my Ego, my Ego-fear) changes that person or myself, I create disharmony and war and more fear. I pass it down like an old quilt, handed from one fearful generation to the next, tattered and torn and anything but warm and comfortable, but still insisting it be used because that’s the truth of it: “life is cold and drafty and we’re inherently tattered, after all”.
But when I find myself seeking the worthiness and goodness within a person’s soul, when I look beneath their tragic attempts to protect themselves or be seen or heard, when I go beyond the way in which I say they “should” be, I find myself with compassion for that person, with patience for that child, with understanding for where they are and how they came to be there.
And with that perspective firmly in my vision, what I see changes. And I and others change, based on what is seen in us.
We realize we are not our Ego (our fear, our big ugly mistakes). We realize we are human and having an experience of fear, an experience of making mistakes or painful choices. An experience of fear.
Just an experience of fear.
Not a being-ness of Ego to despise.
And then the pressure is released and the burden that was crushing our spirits is lifted and there is sudden lightness and energy and the ability to actually move, this time in a new and healthier and more whole direction.
When I call it your or my Ego, we have something new to war against, something we must fight or resist – either ourselves or each other.
Fighting and resisting is the antithesis of peace.
When I release the idea of right versus wrong and just focus on love versus fear (with love and compassion FOR the fear), peace comes inherent instead.
(Want to DIG IN to your own Ego-fear? That’s what this process is for.)