Defining the Ego and How to Live from the True Self
I’ve received a few requests from some of our readers lately about learning to identify the ego, and how to find the difference between the egoic self and the true self.
At first, it took me a while to figure out how to define the two, and after a profound realization that I had been living from a place of ego, I made it my goal to find a way to easily conceptualize this idea, and find a simple way to define living from my authentic self.
Now I get that this may be confusing, because technically there’s only one of "me", and I’m making it seem like there are two: the ego and the real self - but I bet that by the end of this blog post, we’ll all have a better understanding of how we can start living as our true self, and not so much in our place of self-image.
So with that being said, what is the Ego?
The ego is one of the many constructs of mind. Obviously.
It acts as a mental source of identification for humans, in which is built from a collection of thoughts, opinions, and memories as a means of giving significance to our existence. It’s made up of a series of beliefs, stories, emotions, and concepts that we’ve accumulated over the course of our life, and for some reason, now live and act accordingly.
But there is a widely unknown truth about the ego, and that is it’s extreme simplicity. Like I said, it’s a construct of the mind, made up of thoughts, stories and emotions – but that's just about all it is: a series of thoughts, stories, and emotions that go along with it.
Without knowing the core truth of the ego and it’s fundamental nature, most of us confuse this identification as part of who we are, rather than something that happens to us as a part of living.
Now, Yes, the ego is in fact a part of humanity. It’s built upon the attachment we have to particular thoughts and events from our lives. We grow up having this “story” about the things that happened to us, the way we were raised, people and memories we hold dearly because they served us at one point of our life.
But there’s a very fine line between it being a fun and basic part of humanity, and it being the dictator of our life, the unconscious reference point and motivating factor behind all of our thoughts and actions. That line is crossed when we are severely lost in our identification with this programming (and believe me when I say that most of us are.)
Where the ego begins to serve the wrong-purpose lies entirely in your belief system and the thoughts you have about how your life is supposed to be. Most of us are still clinging to this idea about the story we lived, and still holding onto attachments and outdated beliefs that are more detrimental than constructive to our growth, and our life, in general.
“Growing up no one liked me, I didn’t have much friends, everyone’s judging me, I didn’t get the things I wanted, I was/wasn’t good at this or that, etc.”
You identify with this story that you lived, like it somehow still exists, and now, whenever something resonates with a belief you once had, it triggers these feelings that you’re attached to and sets off a reaction inside.
You get caught up in the old thoughts and beliefs, and ultimately their underlying emotions, and you begin to defend your territory as if it had been threatened. This is the power of the ego.
Now, this happens knowingly or unknowingly in all of us. You assume or expect certain things to happen a certain way, because that part of your mind is heavily identified with that part of your story. But even when the events that constructed our ego are long gone (or worse, they no longer serve where we want to be, in life,) we still hold onto them as if they still define us - and more often than not, still act according to the past that makes up our “story.”
The importance of speaking about the ego is to let people know how to recognize it, and how to make the distinction between this egoic part of our self and our real, authentic self.
We develop our “identity” at a very young age. We pick up certain ideologies and beliefs from the people around us, and absorb certain routines and rituals based on how we were raised. We were taught language, history, notions and rules… and depending on who we were around, we picked up certain values, stories, thoughts, and standards.
We learn to stay away from particular aspects of life, due to avoiding potential harm, but this is unique to everyone. Whatever your “story” deemed a potential threat (career troubles, relationship issues, family issues, substance abuse history, etc.,) you have learned to avoid those aspects at all costs. So, our ego also serves to keep us from experiencing events that may frighten us or threaten our potential well-being, whether physically or psychologically.
Obviously, the ego is also made up of positive stories and memories too, clinging to times in our life where things seemed easy and happy. It usually clings to particular lifetime highs, such as achievements, relationships, fond memories, etc. The thoughts that make up such reminiscences are where our mind flees to whenever times are hard.
And as we grow up, most of us still live with the same beliefs, ideas and notions we were given from our story, evolving according to the external factors that we were exposed to as children, and act upon the conditioning we extracted from the social or cultural groups we were involved with. We live with the everyday reminder of what once happened, and act out of the familiarity of the past, whether or not it be detrimental to our growth and evolution.
But it’s true, some people do question what they were taught, by contemplating what they know and developing a new perspective that is independent of external influence. They challenge their limiting beliefs, and rise beyond their fears and unconsciousness. But many others, take what has been handed to them, and go through their life, only listening to these false limitations of whatever they were given.
LET’S PUT IT INTO A NEW PERSPECTIVE, THAN.
In this next part of the blog post, we’re going to introduce a new idea of how to perceive the self, as a way of differentiating the ego from our true, intentional nature – so that you can get a better idea of how to shed this old construct, and allow for your true essence to take place.
I want you to imagine you’re playing a video game. Let’s call it the game of “Life.” In the game, you choose your main character. You get to choose the way it dresses, the way it looks, what kind of strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes it has, and so forth.
Throughout your game, your character gets to play a story line. The campaign has many different levels and challenges, and while your character can succeed in some fields, and it may fail in others; ultimately, it’s all part of the game. The challenges you face with each level get harder as you progress – and while there is always the chance of failing the level, you probably wouldn’t get good at the game, nor would you feel the excitement of winning, if there wasn’t.
Now, imagine advancing through each level of the game, and one day you realize that you (as the player) started taking your character too seriously… When your character started facing challenges and the possibility of losing, getting hurt, or dying, you – behind the screen - would get anxious, avoid certain levels, or just stop playing the game altogether. Rather than learning and adapting to the levels of the game, as well as changing and evolving your character through conscious programming, you start imagining threats where there are none, and getting upset with how other players in the game were playing their characters.
The ego, or in other words, the character in your game is meant to give you a means of playing the game. You wouldn’t be able to enter the realm of the simulation without your character, and without your persona, you can’t level up.
But where many of us get lost in the game, is when we get too caught up in the character, that we actually forget that we (our true nature is) are the player.
So, really, the only purpose of the game is to have fun and level up. And as the player, we can control the character, give it strengths, qualities, and stories – and ultimately play the game.
I hope you see this… You must understand that there is a wide distinction between you as the player and conscious programmer of the game, and you as the character. The character does not rule you. You, as the gamer, already know you’re not that personality. That’s the fun in the game, because the character allows to be in the space of game, but you as the player - know it’s not YOU.
But in real life… Most of us don’t get that.
As the gamer (the soul or the self), we have to know our self as the player.
We can’t get too caught up in the identity. We are not the character. The ego and all of its traits, stories, and attributes should never be a problem.
But most of us think we are our character. Our belief of being the ego and our attachment to our “character” is the problem that stops us from enjoying the game.
The ego is just doing its thing as it was programmed to do by you, as the conscious programmer/player of the game. But many of us, as gamers, act as though each set of our character is indisputable and unchangeable.
The reality is, you are not just the player of this game, you are the programmer of your reality. You determine how the game gets played, the dynamics of each level, your traits, and qualities, and ultimately what simulations you play.
So why am I telling you this?
Because managing the ego is deciding to take on your role as (not only) the player, but also the conscious programmer of your life.
I’m telling you to stop pretending to be the character, and start assuming your role as the player (the soul and true essence of your being).
You are not your identity. Your ego acts according to the programs its given.
Instead, realize that your programs and settings can always be changed and that they are chosen and evolved by you.
LET ME STOP US HERE, FOR A SECOND, AND EXPLAIN TO YOU HOW WE CAN BETTER ASSUME OUR ROLE AS THE PLAYER AND PROGRAMMER.
Most of us are act according to the statistics of our character that was built on programs we’ve previously entered in the game. We believe the same old shit we’ve always believed, doing the same old things we’ve always done. This is re-patterning the programs that have been built in us, by other players.
Consciously or unconsciously, we give the power to our outdated programs by simply believing them, and worst of all - taking ourselves to be the character, rather than the player or programmer that is beyond the ego.
Let’s put it plain and simple.
You will never have a choice as the character. The ego acts on the programming its given. (Ideas, beliefs, stories, experiences, values, standards, etc.)
As the player and programmer, that you really are – you can simply remove the unwanted existing programs, and replace it with settings that you prefer.
You choose these programs (at any time) and the ego (or character) lives them out until you decide to change them.
NOW WE’RE COMING ONTO SOME POWERFUL SHIT, SO PLEASE READ CAREFULLY.
The power of bringing anything into the game lies within the belief that you hold onto a particular setting. When you believe something, you bring it into existence, period. Your belief expresses something real about the thought or statement (in gaming terms: the code/programming) – and in that the belief (enter command) is exactly what brings it to life.
Living as your true self, to live as the programmer and player of your own game-reality, you have a choice, every single moment, to believe the past-programming (thoughts) that are coming up; or simply choose to let them go and create something new that you’d prefer.
Don’t get caught up believing that before you started playing the game of life that you, something, or someone chose the way your life would go. This fate doesn’t exist. Because you are never truly stuck with anything.
We came into this life for the sole purpose of playing a game, being the player BEHIND the character, and changing the program as we see fit.
If or when thoughts from your ego arise that bother you, it’s time to realize that these are programs you’ve installed in the past. If they upset you, it's a clear indication that they are outdated, and that you are ready to change the programming.
If you remove the belief that keeps them “real”, you have the 100% ability to change it towards something new and more ideal.
And when events happen in the game, you as the player and programmer (the soul) have the distinct ability to realize that they are just manifestations (in other words, simulations) of past programs, which can ultimately be changed if you decide to change the code.
Do not give your power to unwanted experiences or character traits (thoughts, ideas, beliefs, memories). When you realize your role as the programmer behind the character, you realize that at any moment, you have the power to re-create the sequence through conscious thought, believe in the new commands/code, and ultimately live out a better game.
So above everything, living as your true self means realizing you are not the egoic self (character), but the gamer and the programmer of your life.
For this, you need to realize that you are not your unconscious thoughts (which are constructs of past programming) either, you are the witness of them – a witness of your own programming. And consciously recoding your game and/or character requires stripping old beliefs and replacing them with new, more ideal codes.
Do not engage with your unwanted thoughts, and even beyond that, realize that you are still separate from your positive thoughts. Be happy and validate them, as a player would be happy to see their programs in effect, but do not identify or attach yourself to them. They, too, are only thoughts and do not express the depth of your true nature as the player or programmer, the soul or Self, living and playing this life.
So start living your life as your true self; you are the gamer, the programmer and NOT the character or its attributes. It doesn’t require being supremely spiritual, or enlightened in any way, shape, or form. Just make the ongoing decision to realize that you aren’t the ego or its thoughts - and consciously rewrite the programming of your game/life as you see fit.
If you want to add a sequence (an experience, trait, attribute, strength, etc.) recognize that you will have to develop the ability to code those programs into your game. The coding requires conscious effort to add thoughts, actions, and beliefs into your program (mind) and it will take practice to become the expert player you would like to be.
But as you level up in your game (life), you will begin to realize how much easier it becomes to remove unwanted codes, and create the programming that you deem ideal for your game.
The game of Life has no distinct rules. Let other players play the way they would like and have fun playing your game. You’ll soon realize the ego has no control over you, and you will begin to embrace yourself as the gamer, behind the character.
What does your ideal game (life) look like? What are some new codes (thoughts, traits, experiences) you would like to see in your game? What are some past programs (thoughts, beliefs) you’re having trouble removing? Have you begun to recognize yourself as the player?
Let us know in the comments!