Challenging the Ego – Is it worth it?

With everything that is up in this world currently – the US election circus, the roaring patriarchy, the rise of the feminine in both men and women, our disregard for mother Nature, the arising call for people’s equal inherent value, to name a few – I feel called to write this post.

So, why the question, “Challenging the ego – is it worth it?”.

In spiritual circles it is sometimes said that we need to conquer the ego. That the ego is bad, that it is only out to serve and protect itself and its interests. I take a step back and compare this with what is going on in our human collective psyche – the seeming opposing forces calling for, on the one side, the individual’s right to choose and be in charge of his/her own life, where there is a belief that the success and therefore right of an individual has precedence above everything else, and on the other side, the call for a more humane attitude as there is an awareness that we are all connected, where looking out for one another will inherently mean that we are also looking out for ourselves, where there is a belief that it is possible to thrive by supporting one another.

For the past 10 years I have challenged my ego to own up to its ways while following an unseen trajectory. It has been a fascinating journey which has involved a lot of dedication, will, and a deep desire for evolution.

When I look up the meaning of ego I find: “A person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance”. In psychoanalysis it refers to “the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.” In philosophy (in metaphysics) it refers to “a conscious thinking subject“. And from the Cambridge Dictionary: “your idea or opinion of yourself, especially your feeling of your own importance and ability”.

What I have found is that I have a choice. In my own experience I have learned that my views, beliefs, judgments about the world coming from my ego, can be either very limiting or very open and expansive. That my attitude creates a frame for how I perceive the world around me and my own life experience.


Early on it became clear that the structure I had created as a result of upbringing, social circle, and personal experiences was a tightly fitted suit that did a good job at keeping things in place, but was, however, equally limiting my ability to move and gain an expanded view of life and the world we live in.

On November 6th, 2006 I asked a similar question in my then blog, “Little Green Men and Tall Angelic Beings”. I wasn’t aware then that what I was challenging was the ego, my own as well as other people’s. I blush when I think that my voice from 10 years ago will be shared here as a raw expression of innocent curiosity and in part a hurt ego. I smile as I read this early contribution to the written word. It isn’t a poetic and eloquent expression, but a heartfelt sentiment to the experience of deviating from the norm, from spilling over other people’s measuring cups:

Is it worth it?

Standing out or being different is not easy. At the beginning I had to defend myself all the time, explaining to people why I would want to move abroad again… “Hadn’t I already been there and done that?” I tried to explain that it isn’t about what I do, it’s who I am.

My mother had said to me that I’d always been extremely curious and always had the need for change and learning new things. As if moving abroad was not enough, I know some of my friends lifted an eyebrow (some of them two) when I told them about my quest for spirituality.

Why is it that people automatically judge in a negative way when something different is on the horizon? Why is it so difficult for some people to sit back and just listen, take it all in, and then give their verdict? Many times I have had to fight verdicts based more on the other person’s fear of the unknown than on the actual facts. I think it is rude to slag someone off without knowing all the facts. The world would be a better place if humanity would focus on the good instead of the bad.

So, is it worth it? Hell, YES! I wouldn’t want it any other way. I have learned so much about myself as well as about other people. And I have become a better person as a result of it.

It is worth being different. Believe in yourself!

Many rivers have floated under lots of bridges since that post… In my “quest for spirituality”, I have made it central in my life to practice forgiveness and gratitude. I understand that one aspect of who we are is the sum of our experiences, and, based on our individual lens, all of us do the best we can with what we perceive that we’ve got. This isn’t a justification for awkward behaviour or action/reaction, just an expanded perspective as we all have “our own perceived truth”.

A few key learnings from the past 10 years:

  • Everybody needs to feel seen and heard
  • Everybody does the best they can with what they’ve got
  • We are always part of someone else’s experience
  • Our ego wants us to be safe
  • We can never fall off our path

I’ll end this post with my very first blog post ever, as the questions I posed then are still very much present and “up” in the collective:

Why is it…

30/10/2006  

Why is it…
…that most people are afraid, and feel the need to only believe that which they can see, hear or touch? …that most people don’t ever stop for a moment to live in ‘the now’? …that we are terrified of finding proof that we are not alone?

What would be so terrible…
…if we were to find that we are getting help with the big as well as the little things in life? …if humanity started to believe in a higher power? …if we were to accept that the universe is there for us and all we have to do is ask? …if we were to start to think about the person behind the mask we rush past in the street? …if we started focusing on what we have instead of mucking about focusing on what we don’t have?
 

Although the above wasn’t originally written with the ego in mind, I can’t help notice how the questions do their bit to keep the challenge alive.

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