In my last column, I began to talk about the human ego. This is not only found in egotistic people, but is present in each one of us. The church lady who devotes all of her spare time to helping the congregation may be doing it for the wrong reasons. That friend who has a need to be right, is living in ego. That other friend who always complains of being wrong, is also living in ego. Ego feeds itself. It may take power from being wronged, or from being right. It may feed on helping others (in order to feel superior, or even taken advantage of) or it may be empowered by taking from others. So how do we know when we are acting from ego or from our authentic self?
The answer is pretty simple. We don't need to constantly analyze our motives or actions - all we need to do is become aware that our ego is, in fact, alive and well, and that we are not our ego. We are deeper, an authentic, timeless, piece of creation, filled with power. We can hear that power when we listen to our gut feelings. We are a child of the universe, or actually, an important piece of it. Remember, you are not your ego.
I like to think that we humans are made of three parts - the emotions or heart, the mind or ego, and the spirit or authentic self. Getting back to the 'Two Wolves' story from my last column, the mind and emotions are often powered by the evil wolf, while the authentic self is the good wolf. Notice that I didn't say our authentic self is powered by the good wolf, but that it IS the good wolf. We each ARE the embodiment of joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith, but our ego loves to keep us blind to that fact. Our ego makes us feel good by comparing us to others. Bob cheated more than I did, so that means I am the better person. No, Mr. Ego, the fact is that Bob and you both cheated and you both did wrong. You are not a better person. How about road rage? "That guy is speeding, what a _____! I never speed." Maybe you don't speed, but perhaps you run all the yellow lights, or have parking tickets. How can we judge someone else when we all have imperfections? Perhaps he was speeding to a hospital, or was angry about just getting fired? It was wrong for him to speed, but even more wrong for you to judge.
That is just an example, of course, there are a million other ways our ego loves to make us feel superior to others. The authentic self, on the other hand, loves when others succeed. We are not minimized by someone else's success or good fortune. This week's exercise is to pay attention to your inner voice. When it nags at you for some fault, or points out faults in others, just think the words, 'shut up, ego' and watch what happens. The more you 'see' your own ego, the weaker it becomes, and the more power the good wolf gains. But we are still only at the beginning. Stay tuned for the next installment..