The Ego. Good? Bad? Both? Neither?
After several articles dealing with issues such as emotions and ego, and where ego was seen as the cause for many of life’s negative results or situations, we ended with the question:
Is the human ego, in and of itself, a bad thing?
Well, we didn’t exactly end it that way, since I answered, “not at all.”
But, is what I wrote true? After all, so much of today’s pop teaching (some of that teaching being, in my opinion, otherwise excellent) totally dismisses the ego as being of no positive use but instead relegating it to that which should be – at the very least, ignored and – at best, obliterated and forever after a non-issue.
Yet, if we look at the word, “ego” we see that, as is usually the case in these types of discussions, the thing itself simply is. How it is utilized is what manifests positively or negatively.
And, as you’ve heard me say “once or twice”, before we can expect the logic we provide to result in a correct conclusion, we must know that it is based on a correct premise. So what actually is the ego?
Ego (Dictionary.com): the “I” or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought.
That’s it. Your ego is that part of you that is aware of you being you and that part of me that is conscious of being me. Or, is that “I”?
This doesn’t sound like a bad thing at all. In fact, without the ego, it would seem that nothing exceptional could ever happen. After all, if the individual human being is not aware of their existence and, even if he or she is but doesn’t care; in other words, has no energy of feeling about it and/or a desire to improve their lot, what motivates him or her to increase the good in their lives? And, if they are not increasing the good in their lives, they can’t increase the good in anyone else’s, either.
Yes, inventions are invented, businesses are built, cures for diseases are discovered, houses providing warmth and comfort for families, and every modern convenience that makes our lives easier have come about because a whole lot of people had and have egos.
The trouble appears when that part of ourselves that has all these deep and energetic feelings controls the rest of ourselves. And, what is far more difficult, both to ourselves and others, and what makes us far less effectively than what we could potentially be is when we are not aware that (or when) that part of ourselves is controlling the rest of ourselves.
More often than not, this is how “ego” is used in our conversations; as that negative form of the thing. That’s actually how it was used over the last couple of articles. And, that’s why I felt it important to clarify.
Growing up and for far too long into my adulthood, I held burning grudges against those I felt had intentionally harmed me. It was absolutely ego-based. And, I had no idea it was my ego controlling my feelings. Because of that lack of consciousness on my part, it went unchecked and was often out of control.
As I worked on myself and began to understand the workings of the (and, when I say “the” I mean “my”) ego, I came to realize how harmful this character trait of mine was. At times harmful to others but, mainly to myself. I’m sure you can understand how and why.
This inclination to hold grudges is still a part of my nature and inclinations. However, I’m now aware (and I’d say 100 percent of the time) that it is an “ego-thing.” Because of that – and through other work on myself, this manifests itself very, very rarely. At this point in my life, unless someone does something egregious, I’m pretty difficult to even offend. But, it does happen. And, even that is “Bob’s ego.”
The ego is powerful indeed. When left unchecked; when out of control (i.e., when we are not controlling it) it can cause all sorts of problems, for us and for those we deal with.
On the other hand, when healthy and functioning for our higher good it can be a benevolent force for the good of others, in certain cases, much of the rest of humankind, as well.