We don’t spend much time contemplating our ego, even though it drives most of our emotions and informs most of our decisions, interactions, and relationships. The ego is this omnipresent, powerful sense of self-possession. It’s how we gauge our own worth, how we compare ourselves to others, and what drives our behavior—for better or for worse.
While we may not spend much time reflecting on our own egos, perhaps it’s time we should. This doesn’t equal more self-involvement, but rather a way to temper the self—to bring our best self forward, to not make decisions based on what will cushion our ego, and to learn to coexist with a leveraged sense of self.
Laura Day, practicing intuitive and NYT bestselling author, was kind enough to share her professional take on the human ego, what it means to us, and how we can be in better control. The way she views the ego is that it is “the framework through which all of our energy and efforts flow. A healthy ego can take any circumstances, even difficult ones, and use them as energy for creation and growth.” Just how we go about that requires active daily awareness, which for some, requires more practice.
“Any sentence that begins with ‘I’ is about the power of the ego,” Day starts. “I love, I want, I desire, I create, I believe, I allow, and so on. It is the machine that gets us where we want to go while continually gathering the information to make us who we are. When we master ego, we master life.” We don’t want to speak for everyone when we say this, but mastering life kind of sounds like the ultimate goal.
So what creates ego? Are we born with it? Do we come out of the womb absolutely batshit obsessed with ourselves, or self-loathing artists and comedians? Introverts with little sense of self, or extroverts using the self to mask inner pain? There are so many facets to the ego, and how do we form them?
Day explains that “egos are all of our experiences, beliefs, and reactions that have been created by both our genetics and our early experiences. We spend our entire lives healing the ego injuries that happened as the ego was formed and making the ego adaptive to our current goals.” In other words, the ego is the basis for our personality. It’s formed by accumulative, personal, completely individual experiences.
“If you don’t believe love exists, for example, it is hard to recognize it when it presents itself. If you didn’t have an early experience of love being safe, ego will have defenses formed to protect you from it. Awareness, consciousness, and an open and questioning mind, not to mention a bit of good intuition, can help you form mature ego defenses while allowing new experiences into your life.”
But it’s not all about letting the good into our lives. Sometimes it’s about releasing ourselves from the bad, and the limiting, and the hurtful, and the selfish. This is really where gratitude practices come into play. To some, it seems silly, or like a waste of time to count things we’re grateful for. We already have them, after all—what’s next?
But in reality, it’s a time of reflection. It allows us to check in with our ego, evaluate our needs, and grow our self-awareness so that we have an evolved consciousness. When our sense of self is evolved and aware, we can then begin to understand how our interactions with others affect both parties, and build on the ego with every bit of dialogue. If our ego is cumulative of what we make it, what do we want it to be? Time to sit with that.