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Ego: How big or small is yours?


August 2017


When people think of ego, they think of Trump who says he is as humble as the Pope and that the Pope is "very much like me."

People think ego is vanity and pride but it is much more than an over inflated sense of self.



Ego is any image you have of yourself that gives you a sense of identity— which comes from what you say to yourself and what other people have been saying about you over your entire lifetime that you've decided to accept as truth.

Think about ego as a protective shell. It cuts you off from other people and the outside world and gives you your sense of separation: Here I am... and there's the rest of the universe and other people.

The ego likes to emphasize the "me-ness" of me and the "otherness" of others. It makes you feel "separate".



The ego strengthens itself by complaining— in thoughts or words—about other people, about a situation that "shouldn't be" happening or complaining about yourself. For example, when you're in a long supermarket line, your mind might start complaining about how slow the checkout person is, how he should be doing things faster. You get irritated and upset. Now the ego has you in its grip. You don't have thoughts; the thoughts have you!

To free yourself from this voice that dictates your reality, remember that the voice in your head creates your irritation as an emotional response to what the ego voice is saying to you.


The first step to freedom is becoming aware of the thoughts you are habitually thinking, especially negative thoughts: irritation, anger, impatience and even sadness. You might, for example, complain about yourself. I'm useless. I'm stupid. I'm ugly. I'm fat. I'm sick. If you start to observe these repetitive thoughts, you will realize, "I've been thinking these same thoughts again and again almost every day without really knowing it."

Awareness is the beginning of freeing yourself from your ego voice. You become aware that your thoughts—and the negative emotions they produce—are dysfunctional and unnecessary.

Let's go back to the supermarket line. As you stand waiting, you aren't actually irritated because it's taking a long time to get through to the checkout. That's the situation. You are irritated by what your mind is telling you about the situation— that all this waiting is bad and wasting your time. You could actually be enjoying that moment if you say, "This is what is. There's nothing I can do about it, so why not breathe in deeply and look around and enjoy the world around me?"


Optimistic thoughts can be just as destructive as pessimistic thoughts by holding on to the fairy tale that YOU SHOULD BE HAPPY no matter what. Thoughts like these keep you stuck. Instead, be aware only of what is happening - without judging it.

When you see the difference between your voice and the reality of the situation, that's the beginning of awakening. The ego's dysfunctional thoughts will start to subside. It's a gradual transition because the ego doesn't want to shed its armor.

Fighting with your ego makes it stronger. By declaring war on it, you make an enemy. Your challenge is to become aligned internally with the present moment. A simple example: You wake up in the morning, and it's raining and gray, and the mind says, "What a miserable day," and this is not a pleasant thought. You likely feel some emotion: dread, disappointment, unhappiness. You suddenly realize that your judgment of what kind of day it will be is based on a mental habit, an unconscious default. That simple awareness creates space for a new thought to emerge.

Look out the window again. This time, do it without that preconception and just see the sky. It's gray. There's some sunlight filtering through the sky. There are, perhaps, raindrops falling. It's not actually miserable at all. It has a certain beauty. Then suddenly, you're free. You're no longer imposing something on reality, and you're free to enjoy what you had previously rejected.

Eckhart Tolle article revised

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