by MELISSA KARNAZE at MindfulConstruct.com
A lot of self-proclaimed spiritual people don’t like their Egos. Some of them write entire books explaining why you shouldn’t like yours either.
And why you should kill it instead.
They come up with all sorts of abstract reasons that might sound reasonable if you disassociate from yourself and your life enough.
But trying to kill your Ego is no way to cultivate response ability to your life, or create your life as a mindful construct.
Because in order to succeed at your life goals and embark on the path of self-actualizing, you need to be in touch with your multidimensional human nature, which includes both the Inner Child and the Ego (or more simply, your emotional self).
People who say you aren’t your Ego are afraid of their very own
Let’s go through the four main reasons self-proclaimed spiritual people give for killing (or putting to sleep) your Ego, which are also the four main reasons they use to explain that you are not your Ego to begin with.
And let’s look at why each of these are (a) inaccurate, (b) dyfunctional, and (c) motivated by fear.
1. “You are not your mind/brain”
It’s inaccurate because: Your reality is a construct created by your mind/brain. All of your perception occurs because of your mind/brain — without it, you would not perceive this physical reality. Additionally, none of your thoughts, feelings, or behaviors are made possible without your mind/brain.
It’s dysfunctional because: It tries to convince you that your physical life here on Earth is inferior to the “real” existence that is unbound by your mind/brain. This creates an internal conflict so that you codependently seek out greener grass in other realms, because that’s supposedly the only way to be happy, where you are free from the confines of your mind/brain (or, your Ego).
It reflects fear by: Representing an escapist attitude on life, by proclaiming that your physical life here on Earth is inherently flawed.
2. “You are not your thoughts”
It’s inaccurate because: Even though there is the possibility of your thoughts being inaccurate, distorted, or dysfunctional, every action or inaction you take is directly linked to a thought-process, whether it be conscious or subconscious. And in the physical world, you are defined by your actions.
Some people say that meditation gives you glimpses of your real, nonphysical self, that is unbound by the thinking process. But this statement is hyprocritical, because if what you use to think, your mind/brain, cannot comprehend your real nature, then as long as you have a mind/brain (you use your mind/brain to meditate by the way) — you cannot comprehend your real nature!
It’s dysfunctional because: It downright confuses you, and alienates you from yourself. If you cannot accept and own your thoughts as being a part of you, then there is no ground to define what makes the “inside” you different from other people.
It reflects fear by: Telling you that your life and existence here are insignifincant — inferior to some abstract existence that your mind/brain can never rationally comprehend — to avoid taking response ability for life.
3. “You are not your emotions”
It’s inaccurate because: Every action or inaction you take is directly linked to an affective(/emotional)-process, whether it be conscious or subconscious. And your emotions are also linked to your thoughts and your mental and physical health.
It’s dysfunctional because: It leads you to believe that your emotions mean nothing of importance, so that you won’t have to deal with them. It helps you rationalize why stuffing, repressing, ignoring, and judging your emotions is healthy and good for you — when emotion research is increasingly showing just the opposite.
It reflects fear by: Reinforcing the common belief that emotions are scary. As a civilization, we’ve been avoiding them for ages. We’ve even kept a really old myth going, about emotion being the arch-nemesis of humanity’s greatest virtue: reason. But research is debunking the myth, and we’re finding that emotions are actually intelligent.
And pain is definitely scary too. As a society, we go to great lengths to mask, avoid, and deny pain. But the thing is, we make pain worse when we obsess over feeling it.
4. “You are not your physical body/an individual..instead, you are a Soul connected to All That There Is, God Source”
It’s inaccurate because: You are an individual by virtue of being human. You do have a physical body. You do have a separate identity from other humans.
Be careful of the trap here — you can be an individual and still be connected to the collective, be it spiritual or social. So don’t believe that because you are connected to a greater source or a higher power — that you have to sacrifice individuality for that. You don’t have to sacrifice anything. If you are a part of God, then you already are — you don’t have to do or kill anything to regain what, according to spiritual principle, you can never lose.
It’s dysfunctional because: It uses a very subtle, yet powerful guilt tactic. You’re expected to believe the gurus (which are often best-selling authors) when they use spiritual principle as a reason to kill the Ego, by saying things like, “We are all One.”
This gives you no room to question them, and especially their Ego-killing rampage — because you don’t want to appear devolved, unenlightened, nonspiritual, or what’s worse, too Egotistic!
They imply that the solution to life’s struggles is — don’t worry, we’re all One! Trust spirit. But it’s dysfunctional to bury your head in the sand when life throws challenges in your path. You do have to face the hardship. You do have to struggle. It’s, again, all part of being human.
Now there’s nothing wrong with practicing heartfelt gratitude, surrender, and faith (these are all wonderful), but there is something terribly wrong with using it as an excuse to kill the Ego, and to avoid facing your challenges and negative emotions head-on.
It reflects fear by: Avoiding real response ability for all the pain and hardship that life is strife with. And by avoiding taking true ownership of all your thoughts, and all your emotions — especially the dark ones.
“We are all One,” is more often than not, misused — to veil another statement:
“I don’t want to deal with all the pain and hardship that comes with setting personal boundaries in my life and my relationships. Therefore, I’m not going to be bothered with this chore, or the negative consequences and emotions that may result. Instead, I’ll stuff those down, and put on a happy smile. Those negative feelings are just a by-product of my Ego anyway, which isn’t really real.”
If you’ve noticed, this past week the web has been trending with counterarguments to the need for happy-go-feely optimism that’s often pitched in the personal development/self-proclaimed spiritual field.
That’s because forced optimism doesn’t work.
No matter how many copies of The Secret sell, any Kill-Ego Crusade veiled by New Ageisms won’t work, at least not in the long run.
Because people will see right through it. Optimism is not a marathon, but a natural phenomenon that results from courage and honesty to go within yourself. It’s delicate.
And your brightest optimism comes from your darkest pain. So if you aren’t willing to feel your pain or the other nasties that are strapped along with all things Ego, then you can only force optimism, and a very superficial version of it at that.
Your Ego is just the dark side of your Inner Child
Whenever someone tells you to kill your Ego, or tries to convince you to deny that the Ego is even real… they are doing so in an act of fear. They are afraid to face themselves, or to admit they have a shadow side.
Your Ego is just the shadow of your Inner Child. It’s all the coping mechanisms you’ve picked up throughout your life, just to get by, to survive. It’s only unreasonable if it picked up dysfunctional coping mechanisms along the way.
And guess what?
It’s your job to identify those dysfunctional coping mechanisms and find ways to fix them. The only way to start is by paying attention to your Ego, listening to how you really feel, no matter how “unreasonable” that may be.
It makes no sense to punish the Ego for doing what it was meant to do — find a way for you to survive in a harsh world where it’s a struggle just to be yourself. It makes even less sense to try to kill it, not because it’s cruel, but because it won’t work.
You are your Ego. Your Ego will be a part of you as long as you are human.
The sooner you can accept that, the sooner you can start making peace with yourself instead of war.
There’s no reason to be afraid of yourself
So when a self-proclaimed spiritual person rolls out one of the main four reasons to make war instead of peace… ask them an important question:
“If I am a part of God, then why am I here in human form, born with and bound-by an Ego-centric mind/brain/body?”
If they try to dodge the question by saying you’re here to see through the illusion, to reject your present reality for a better one, pin them down with an even harder question:
“What is love, as an action, not a noun?”
See if they can describe concrete actionable steps of love, in a non-codependent way. Without resorting to calling it just a feeling.
See, the biggest problem with the spiritual Kill-Ego Crusade, is that it claims to spread awareness of the love of God, but what it really does is prevent you from expressing (read: not just feeling) love in your life, and understanding what love is (especially self-love).
Love is an action, more than just a feeling.
And when you don’t have personal boundaries in this physical world (which is what the Ego is all about), then you won’t know the first thing about establishing and maintaining healthy interdependent relationships.
And you won’t have a chance to express love through your actions.
Next week, we’ll talk about the concrete actionable steps of love. To stay on board for the discussion, make sure to sign up for RSS or email updates if you haven’t already.
In the meantime, you can read about how to start making peace with your Ego right now.
Your Ego and Inner Child make up your emotional self.
So the way to love them both is by understanding, respecting, and honoring all of your emotions.
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