Is your ‘ego’ friend or foe – clarifies how to deal with ego, take responsibility for emotions, practice self-awareness by dealing with childhood wounds which when accomplished ULTIMATELY creating a life worth living.
Ego – ‘friend or foe’, is something I understand little about. Actually ‘ego’ was not on my list of most well known definitions including Freud explaining the id, the ego, and the superego, which only left me reeling with more questions. His definition is:-
‘the ego is the component of personality responsible for dealing with reality, developing from the id, ensuring that the impulses of the id can be expressed in a manner acceptable in the real world’.
I want to understand that , but I don’t, subsequently reading the Conscious Parent, transforming ourselves, empowering our children by Shefali Tsabary, gave me a better understanding, her interpreted having a different connotation, allowed me to understand that ego can be my friend more than my foe. https://drshefali.com/about-dr-shefali/. This in turn was my huge ‘E’ moment of staying out of the hole. http://lovinglylivelife.com/2019/03/05/a-hole-lot-of-living-creating-a-life-worth-living/
SHEFALI TSABARY EXPLAINS ‘EGO’
CAN EGO TRULY BE FRIEND OR FOE?
Trolling through facebook one day, as we do, I came across a post by Shefali Tsabary which really intrigued me. I googled her and watched this U tube video and I was subsequently hooked. I bought her book, not to help raise my children, they are all over the age of 30, (wish I had seen this video 30 odd years ago), but because it was so helpful in relating to others, and yes, even although my children are no longer children, the message is still helpful to my relationship with them today. It is obviously about raising children, however, she says that it is through healing ourselves that we can raise healthy children. As you notice, I find profound answers in unusual places.
‘The definition for ‘ego’ and its associated term ‘egoic’, is where people tend to think of the ego as their ‘self’ in the sense of who they are as a person, however the word egoic would then refer to an inflated sense of ourselves like ‘vanity’.
Tsabary looks at ‘ego’ as not your true self at all, but more as a PICTURE, of yourself we carry in our head that may be far from who we are. She uses ‘ego’ as the term of an artificial sense of self, an idea based on other people’s opinions, and who we have come to believe we are and think of as ourselves which was formed in childhood and we hold onto strongly. This idea of ourselves is limited, she says, but our essential being is limitless.
EGO IS MOSTLY CAMOUFLAGED
CAN EGO BE FRIENDLY IF HE IS CAMOUFLAGED?
According to Tsabary, Ego is difficult to detect as it tends to be mostly in camouflage, subsequently tricking us into being unaware that a lot of our emotions are ego in disguise.
“As we all know from personal experience, our attachment to anger or other emotions such as jealousy, disappointment, guilt, or sadness ultimately causes a feeling of separation between ourselves and others. This happens because, not recognizing our anger as an egoic reaction, we believe it’s part of who we essentially are, masquerading as our true self, therefore our egoic attachments obscure our ability to stay in a state of joy and oneness with all.” S. Tsabary
HOW TO KNOW WHEN EGO IS FRIEND OR FOE
THE KEY ?
The key to finding out if ego is friend or foe is in becoming AWARE of ‘ego’ and how he operates by witnessing moments when a space becomes open in thoughts during a difficult situation, and then being able to catch it if the manner in which we are conducting ourselves is somehow not true to who we are.
I found Ego being very much foe not friend the other day when I was having a disagreement with my husband. Becoming more and more upset as he stared at me blankly, the harder I tried, the less he understood. Storming into the bedroom outraged I suddenly had that aha moment, I could take a step back, analyse the situation and come up with a different approach. Excitedly, I returned to the scene of the crime with a new perspective, instead of feeling woe is me.
Shefali states that when we are angry or sad, we assume we are feeling our feelings, however we are simply reacting. Instead of becoming reactive, we could sit with the discombobulation and experience the emotion, holding it and being present with it instead of blaming, overindulging in eating, drinking or feeling sorry for ourselves.
When we view Ego as friend and not foe we understood why we are reacting, feeling or behaving in a way that is not true to who we are, we become aware of the true reason for our reaction and can proceed appropriately.
HOW TO ACHIEVE CONTROL OVER EGO
THE THREE TIPS THIS WEEK:-
- Accept that life is neutral
- Recognise the emotional charge as a signal
- Understand our childhood wounds
When people and circumstances affect us negatively, we may believe that life is against us. We may become the martyr, not realising that life itself is neutral, it just is. We regard people and circumstances as an enemy only because of our inability to understand and master our internal shadow, which we project onto them. We would much rather project our pain onto others, roping them into our emotional drama through guilt, blame or anger.
It is important to recognise the emotional charge as a signal that something is amiss within ourselves and go inward, focusing on our own growth, using it as a guide and having others in our life as a mirror of our forgotten self. Ask myself; “What do I perceive I’m lacking?”, is helpful and in order to recognize the need I perceive in my environment, which arose because of an internal sense of lacking says Tsababy.
OUR CHILDHOOD WOUNDS
WHERE OUR FRIEND OR FOE EGO AROSE FROM
Reading Harville Hendrix, Ph.D concept about childhood wounds reiterates once again how important it is for childhood wounds to be healed in order to create a life worth living. These concepts below helped me understand how to answer the question that Shefali Tsabary asked when she said ‘what do I perceive I am lacking?’
- The Lost Self
- The False Self
- The Disowned Self
THE LOST SELF
Is the part of ourselves we have hidden from our consciousness when our caretakers and society at large told us negative things about ourselves or our behaviour; for example that we were not smart enough or ‘not to have’ certain feelings, consequently when we complain that we ‘can’t think or feel, or dance or be creative’ we are identifying natural abilities, thoughts or feelings that we have surgically removed from our awareness. They are not gone, we still possess them, but they are not part of our consciousness, as if they do not exist.
THE FALSE SELF
To deal with the ‘lost self’ the child creates a ‘false self’, a character structure that serves a double purpose: it disguises those parts of his being that he has blocked and protects himself from further wounds, for example he becomes the :
‘tough guy’ saying, “I don’t care, I can make it on my own”, erecting a barricade around himself, Or “poor me, I am hurt, and I need someone to take care of me”. Someone else may become a ‘hoarder’, striving to hold onto every bit of love and food and material goods that comes his way as his fear is ‘never enough’.
This ‘false self’ lessens the pain of ‘losing’ part of the child’s original wholeness.
THE DISOWNED SELF
The ‘disowned self’ materialised through self-protecting himself, i.e.
woe is me guy,
or hoarding guy,
becoming the cause of further wounding as the child is disapproved of for having these negative qualities. People condemn him for being ‘distant or needy or ‘self-centred or fat or stingy’. His wounds that he is trying to protect are not seen by the attacker as ‘his defense’ and although his adaptive character traits serve a useful purpose, he is being rejected, so he informs his critics that he is not;
‘cold and distant’ but ‘STRONG AND INDEPENDENT,
not ‘needy, but ‘SENSITIVE’,
not ‘greedy or selfish’, but rather ‘THRIFTY AND PRUDENT’.
So what relevance does this have for me. I found that, that part of myself, the part that overreacted or got angry very quickly, or felt sorry for myself when things did not go my way made me feel inadequate. Feeling inadequate made the situation worse. I wanted to be more in control of my emotions and so becoming aware of them, where they originated and how they were influencing the here and now made a lot of sense in unraveling present day problems that interfered with my new found joy. This was achieved by finding out what my three stages of childhood wounds were.
EGO AND OTHERS
When Ego is a foe not a friend
THE TOPPER SHOPPING MOMENT OF AWARENESS
SETTING THE SCENE
A while ago we spent a night (which is all we could afford) in a lovely private nature reserve as a treat. The bed looked huge with three, not two sets of pillows on it. Pillows and size beckoned me to laze on it, like some movie star in Hollywood, aka South Africa. How comfortable the mattress was to my surprise so I took a peep under all the silky smooth sheets and found that it had a thick mattress cover (topper I discovered later) over the two single beds, making it into one large king size bed and creating a luxurious softness.
Needless to say, I was hooked into having one of those immediately on my mattress, which had become hard on my husband’s and my aging bones beginning to be rather uncomfortable. On arriving at home we googled immediately and found a little shop in Paarl that stocked them. We phoned and yes, they had in stock, however we could only find time to visit a few weeks later, tootled off as soon as we were able, we arrived in anticipation only to find that they were out of stock with a 3 week waiting period.
THE RISE OF THE EGO I THINK FOE DEFINITELY
I was so upset and angry, ‘foe’ ego was definitely in control, Paarl is not close to where I stay and wanting to recreate the bush feel and comfort moment was slipping from my grasp . NO really, I was way too angry for the actual circumstance and ego was out of control. On arriving at home I had to take myself aside, having become rather unreasonable, to figure out what had caused the exaggerated emotion. Shefali’s words somehow penetrated my anger. Becoming aware of how I was feeling, a sentence came from out of nowhere; “How significant is this event in your life actually?”. Creating a life worth living was important to my well being and becoming angry over small issues was derailing my motto.
What a relief to remember Shefali’s concepts. I quickly asked myself what I was lacking. No not a topper mattress cover, but a topper forgiveness shield. Anger, according to Mari van der Merwe stems from unforgiveness. So who did I need to forgive. I suddenly realised that I had been out of sorts for a while over something completely unrelated, that unforgiveness was the cause that needed to be dealt with and suddenly, like a magic wand, I was back to being myself again. What a relief. Freedom again to feel joy and happiness and peace. How could it be that easy, yet so difficult to reach.
I did not have to blame the company for their tardy sales service, or inadequate stock or any other reason I found to blame them for, it was all to do with where I was and how I was reacting towards ‘undealt-with’ pain in my life. Now if I can resolve all my crisis this easily, I will be flying high!!!
EGO AND SELF – Ego as Foe not friend
THE HUNGRY HIPPO
Having had a long journey with negative emotions, it was such an incredible realisation that I was not an angry, sad, ashamed person, but rather that I had emotions which I was not dealing with and so they had become a part of me. Consider for a moment living with the thoughts deep in your core that abandonment was your essence self and because of that you needed constant approval to reassure ‘abandonment part of yourself’ that all was ok? It’s a pretty destructive way to exist as it’s like feeding a hungry hippo that stays hungry all the time and no matter how much you feed it, it remains hungry. And when hippo is constantly hungry, he becomes angry, with the world, people and life. http://lovinglylivelife.com/2019/05/14/overcoming-neediness-by-detaching/
Not a pretty picture, especially as I did not know that hippo existed inside me, I did not know he was hungry and I did not know he needed to be feed either. So I began to feel trapped and angry with myself. I was angry because I was afraid, I did not know why I was afraid and I did not know how to get out of it. So I stayed angry and sad, consequently the people closest to me suffered the most.
TAMING THE HIPPO
Each element of negativity is dealt with individually and so reading how Shefali Tsabary explaining her definition of Ego, helped me create a space between myself and my problems. I could stand back for the first time and say, ok I am feeling an emotion of sadness, envy, jealousy or angry, however that is an artificial sense of who I am, created by my past experiences which I am hanging onto very strongly, furthermore it is not who I really am.
I need to go into my quiet space and figure out why I feel this way and it is generally because of ‘un-dealt’ with childhood wounds. If I can tap into what I am trying to heal from my childhood, I will be able to heal my current wound, instead of create new ones with those around me by blaming and judging.
EGO AND GOD IN MY LIFE – How to make Ego your friend.
Guarding the Heart Proverbs 4:23
I read a devotional by Andi Andrews who maintains that freedom is a journey and takes a long time. She gave me Proverbs 4:23 which says, “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”. I have read this verse many times, however, it was only when I really did exactly what it says, really guarded my heart, that I started to gain control. Andi says that we need to choose love on a daily basis. http://www.andiandrew.com/
Once we step into Love it is impossible for anger, sadness or any other negative emotion to exist. However we have to start by guarding our heart, looking at it and finding out who is in control, Ego ‘artificial self-protective self,’ or ‘authentic aware vulnerable self’. I need to remind myself daily that ‘authentic aware vulnerable self’ is better, that guarding my heart against negative emotions allowing love to be at the forefront of my heart, will certainly keep Ego at bay.
Although Shefali says the ‘ego’ is neither good nor bad, it just is, and it is a stage of development that serves a purpose. Her analogy states that as the eggshell serves a purpose for a chick he does eventually discard the eggshell, just as I need to discard as much of my ‘ego’ as I can and although I won’t obliterate it entirely, the more aware I become of my inner workings, the easier life will become in creating a life worth living.
Is ego your friend or foe? I found it just is, friend sometimes, foe other times and as I become aware I understand how to handle it better.
Next week we deal with forgiveness which leads very nicely from my story today into understanding more about how forgiveness and anger go hand in hand.
Hendrix, H. 2008. Getting the love you want. A guide for couples. Henry Holt and Company.
Tsabary, S. 2014. The Conscious Parent transforming ourselves empowering our children. Yellow Kite.
Andrew, A. Author, Pastor, Podcaster.
van der Merwe, M. Clinical Psychologist.