Within each of us are volumes and volumes of stories we have collected about ourselves, others, and the world around us. These stories are created in our mind by our ego in the form of constant and continuous thoughts.
The term ego is often used in very different ways. Here we are defining the ego as the unconscious part of our mind that helps us make sense of who we are and what we experience. It assigns meaning to everything we do based on our past lived experiences. It is our sense of self, the story of “us,” and who we believe ourselves to be. Some may label it as “personality.”
Our sense of self begins developing at birth as we unconsciously absorb the ideas of who we are based on the beliefs and behavior of those around us (i.e. teachers, peers, parental figures, and community). Our ego plays a massive role in how we show up and engage in the world. It is fundamental to the ways we connect with those around us and is responsible for many of our emotional experiences, our bids for attention, and the ways we seek fulfillment.
The ego is not inherently “good” or “bad” and develops with the primary intention of protecting us. It has a very rigid identity that is focused on 3 things: keeping our future safe and predictable, keeping the concept of self unchanging, and keeping us safe from feeling the pain we have experienced in the past. However, without awareness of our ego, we tend to recycle past beliefs into current experiences, preventing us from creating change. In addition, when unchecked, we begin to internalize these ego beliefs and they become our “truths.”
As we become aware of the constant thoughts within our mind we begin to notice its stories. “I am smart.” “I am athletic.” “I am not good enough.” “(Someone) is more attractive or desirable than I am.” “I am behind in some way (in my career, my relationships, in having children).” “People will always leave me.” This chatter drives us to engage in repetitive patterns, habits, and beliefs in order to keep us safe and protected. This is how the ego ensures we keep repeating our past. Even if the past no longer serves us.
Consciousness is the foundation of our healing. Becoming conscious to the stories of who we are enables us to observe these stories and our habit reactions to them. It allows us to begin to make choices beyond our own ego stories. With practice we can witness without judgment and begin to see our egos as simply part of us, not who we are. Not our truth.
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