Ego-Part I

The word ego has several confusing connotations, all of which partially or completely relate to the world of psychotherapy. We have the common definition of ego, which denotes an air of conceit, arrogance or pretentiousness. Then we have Freud’s Id, ego and superego, where the ego serves as our rational voice, curbing potentially unhealthy urges and employing a host of unconscious and unconscious reactions to the world around us. Finally we have the spiritual meaning of ego where there is an over-identification with mind, body and intellect. It is this final definition with which I am most interested.
Eastern philosophy has long sought to emphasize the importance of releasing one’s attachment to mind, body and intellect. Buddhism’s primary focus is to reduce suffering by eliminating attachments to these three things. More recently, we have spiritual leaders such as Eckhart Tolle who is careful not to the use psychological and religious terminology by simply stating that ego is a personalized sense of self, where we are continually seeking ourselves in the past, the future, things and people.
There is this constant need to seek something better, something different, something more stimulating, fulfilling or rewarding. It is this desperate search that traps us in the pain and suffering of every day existence. It is through needless seeking that we become depressed, anxious, neurotic, angry and physically unwell. Psychology and psychiatry loves to label and diagnose, to classify and analyze, to propose complex theoretical means of addressing a particular “condition.” It is this model of un-wellness that perpetuates a lack of responsibility for our own state of dis-ease because if we are unwell then it must be because of this or that condition. This is not to say that there are not physical situations that are painful, disruptive and life altering, but we do not need to be SO identified with what we are experiencing that it takes us away from all that matters, which is this moment.
This moment is all you are getting. Once you realize this, then the ego will fall away because you’re not living with the intention that the next moment has anything better to offer. Think of your life situations and the perceived problems and then ask yourself; “In this very moment is there anything that is truly that terrible?” If the answer is yes, then you are still focused on fear, which is future. If the answer is no, then you have surrendered to what is and are one with the present.


One thought on “Ego-Part I

  1. Great article! I especially agree with the idea that modern Psychology loves to label and classify people. Why do we choose to pigeon hole others and place them into boxes because of a conditional experience. I also agree with the idea of taking responsibility for actions, beliefs, situations, and the overall conditions that produce symptoms experienced.
    Very well written and I look forward to part 2.

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