When you’re on a spiritual journey, one of the most frustrating things is being caught having a “human moment,” as I call them. That is, a moment when you are not your highest and best self – when you’re caught being petty, judgmental, resentful, or unloving.
It’s easy to look back on those moments with regret.
It’s easy to look at yourself and want to banish the part of you that created those moments, because it is certainly not behaving in alignment with your intention of living in the Highest Love and Light.
That part is your ego, and the idea of banishing it seems to be in alignment with what we learn from our spiritual teachers: We hear that we must rise above the ego – be better than it.
While those teachings are true, I see that they’re also commonly misunderstood. What we really need to do is make peace with our egos.
What is the ego?
There are a number of official definitions of “ego” that come from Freud, Jung, and other psychological big wigs. I have only tangential knowledge of their teachings, so I’ll stick to describing the ego as I’ve experienced it:
Your ego is your earthly personality. It’s the aspect of you that is not eternal but dies when your body dies. Some call it your “lower self,” in contrast with your spirit, or “higher self.” While your soul is infinite, your ego is finite.
As part of its finite-ness, your ego doesn’t inherently know about your connection to your Source or the infinite possibilities in your life. It only knows what you’ve already experienced; it is the memory and expression of every thought and feeling that you’ve ever had.
Through this limited perspective, the ego doesn’t know of the vast array of beings and forces of Light that are guiding every step of your journey. Or what it knows it doesn’t trust; your ego is the part of you that’s inclined to ask, “If God is protecting me, then why have all these bad things happened?”
Your ego is the part of you that steps in to take care of things when your happiness seems to be threatened. But because your ego doesn’t know or trust your ability to expand and reach out to invoke the support of the Universe, it tries to protect you in the ways that it knows how.
This is why, despite your best efforts to rise above, you have “human moments”: When someone catches you off-guard or rubs you the wrong way, the ego rushes in with its best defenses. It might help you to shrink as small as you can so that you seem weak and pitiable, or lash out so that you seem big and threatening. Or you might just freeze like a deer in the headlights.
Notice how each of the ego’s defenses resembles something you might see in the animal kingdom. That is the level of intelligence that the ego operates on. It has no rationale or reason; it is your basic animal instincts as a member of the animal kingdom.
If you can understand these workings of the ego, then you no longer need to do away with it. Instead, you begin to understand what the great spiritual teachings mean by “transcending the ego”: It’s an invitation to be bigger than your ego – to be more than just an ego walking around in your meat suit.
When you know how your ego works, you get better at recognizing and anticipating its behavior. It becomes like a pet or a small child to you; rather than trying to rationalize with it, you develop methods for placating it. And sometimes you need to simply put it in its place.
Transcending your ego becomes easier when you help it shrink a bit. Right now it may be loaded up with fears and feelings that cause it to react to every little potential threat, like a scared rabbit. Part of the journey that you came to this life to experience is the letting go of those fears. You came into this life to experience having an ego and then transcending it.
If that thought gives you the “spirit shivers,” then you are at a pivotal point of being ready to release the hold that your ego has on your life. There are many ways to do this; I’ve enjoyed energy healing as my best tool for this process, both for myself and my clients. Modalities like ThetaHealing are powerful methods for getting down to the root of the ego’s fears and healing them all the way to the surface.
The union of spirit and ego
An important key to transcending your ego is accepting it as part of yourself. Stop seeing it as something you need to fight or eradicate; embrace it as a vital part of you, just like your soul and your physical body. This is when transcendence really takes hold.
(This is also, you will notice, when you stop apologizing for yourself.)
When you do the work to transcend your ego – embracing it as a welcome part of you, and healing its fears and limitations – you’ll notice yourself feeling grateful for your ego. (Believe it or not!) This happens because the clearer you get, the more that you notice when you’re being pulled back into your ego. It transitions from being your arch-enemy to being a helpful guide to show you where there are still stumbling blocks along your journey.
That is when you realize the gift of your ego: It is your teacher, showing you where you still have lessons to learn and giving you everything you need to learn those lessons.
Thank you, ego.