Photo Credit; Good Fon
Ego and Suffering
Who are you?
Why can we have a very inspired day and then feel like we have lost it all the following day?
Why might retired sport stars and people from long term work to retirement fall into depression?
How do we find meaning and make sense in our lives?
It all begins with understanding our Ego.
Our Ego is a mental construct that develops over time from influences ranging from culture, our up bringing, social interactions, the media and more. We begin to identify ourselves and define ourselves based on how our ability to interact and compare in the world and to others.
For example if you identify yourselves with money you will feel ‘strong’ when you increase your money but if you ‘lost it all’ you may feel as if your whole world has fallen beneath you.
If you are a writer and you receive a critique you may be very hurt as your Ego has been threatened i.e your view that you are a writer and your identification of yourself in the world has been threatened. In reality you are more than a writer, and you may be a good writer at that, but you have had one bad review on one of your many pieces of writing.
How do we recognise our Ego talk?
A strong example could be if you strongly identify yourself with beauty and you believe life revolves around your image then you may over exercise, have plastic surgery, buy new clothes and more. You may also do this if you feel low as you identify your happiness with your image.
These things do not define who you are and are simply a mental construct that is not true. Your Ego will fight to stay alive and your inner critique or impulsive actions are based on your Ego talking and not your true self.
We can imagine putting all of the things we feel identify us in the world in a metaphorical basket and we are the holder or observer of that basket. We are the observer of our Ego and the Ego does not define us.
Or we can think of moon light as your Ego. The moon appears with the light projected from the sun but we are not the moons projection and we are indeed the sun and the observer of the moon.
What can we do to change this?
‘Never tell a child you have a soul. Teach him, you are a soul; you have a body.‘ – George Macdonald. Credit for this quote from ‘The Way: Finding Peace in Turbulent Times.‘
Vernon Sankey & Katey Lockwood talking above from Improve My World.
When we learn to detach ourselves from our Ego we can listen to our true self.
Feeding our Ego
Emotional Intelligence teaches us that often when we feel happy our needs and values have been met. When we feel sad or lost it is a result of our needs and values not being met. For example a need based on your Ego maybe a need to be complimented for your image and you may value money. A need based on your true self maybe the need for social connection and a value might be that you value nature and kindness. Therefore it is important to understand the difference between our Egos needs and values versus our true self.
This means the deeper needs within not founded on comparability to others and values based around being interconnected.
Matthieu Ricard in his book Altruism: The Science and Psychology of Kindness describes that individualism further feeds the Ego. This is not to say that high self esteem does not bring many health benefits and certainly outweighs low self esteem; but the further feeding of our Ego means we will fall much harder when our Ego is threatened by regional comparisons and also with age for example ‘no longer being the strongest or fastest.’
We must realise that we all interconnected.
Once we begin to see our true self detached from our Ego then we can find inner peace and be comfortable in stillness. We want to focus on becoming the observer of our Ego. With this we can still live life and enjoy what life has to offer but we do not let things in life define us through Ego. We realise that we are all interconnected and can find beauty in the self. We can see the formless nature within ourselves and the worthiness in others and yourself that is not comparable i.e based on the bettering or worsening of others. With thanks also to Eckhart Tolles wisdom.
Wishing you health and well-being.
Thank you for reading.
David Chorlton; Meaningful Paths Founder