There are many definitions of the ego, but the most common one is the sense of self, as opposed to another person or something outside yourself. The challenge has become that the ego has taken a slightly different form. Instead of just a sense of self, it has become a sense of self as superior to people and situations around you. So it has become more of a self-worth, than a self-identification. We’ve moved from ego to ego trip!
What are the types of egos? There is the weak ego, the strong ego, and, eventually, no ego. People often ask, “Isn’t a strong ego bad?” There’s nothing bad or good about any of this. But, when we talk about ego in our work, we’re really talking about a weak sense of self. That is, a weak ego, or a weak sense of self, compared to a strong sense of self or a strong ego. Then, eventually, when you transcend the ego, there is no sense of self, and you remember your true nature of oneness with everything.
Many people who act out or try to portray a sense of superiority, actually do have a weak sense of self. People who are confident, who have the stronger ego, don’t need to do that. A person who has a weak ego doesn't have a lot of confidence or self-esteem. They can feel like they’re ineffectual and worthless. Or, they can do the opposite and act out and portray a sense of superiority. Either way, that’s still a weak ego.
A person with a strong ego – a person with more confidence – is someone who identifies with a personality type that works for them. This is someone who feels better about themselves – someone who has identified with themselves; but, not to make themselves feel superior than other people. Eventually, of course, no ego means one has eliminated that sense of individuality, altogether, and sees the whole and you, as part of it.
It's not necessary to leave the ego behind, but, if you didn’t have one, then you’d stop judging other people, and, more importantly, you’d stop judging yourself. You’d be more accepting of yourself and others. So, how do you live with the ego? Well, be the participant and the observer at the same time. So while you’re participating, watch yourself. Don’t judge it; watch yourself. Have a belief system that works for you and test it against love… test it against the only truth in this world.
The ego is all about the past. It’s about the things you’ve learned, the things you know to be true, the things you’ve experienced, all the little voices in your head from your parents and teachers and everyone that you’ve ever spoken with. That is what really forms the ego, and, so, the ego is who you were – not necessarily who you are in this moment. When you can transcend the ego, even for a moment, then you can make a conscious choice, one that resonates with your true self, one that resonates with love.
If you’re thinking, “Well this sounds like an almost impossible task, to move past judgment, to move past ego,” remember: Just do it once. Maybe one time next week, instead of reacting and getting into that conflict… instead of trying to defend yourself… instead of trying to make the other person wrong… instead, one time, just observe. One time, just think, “Stop!” Stop and say, “What’s really going on here? Why do I think this way? Why am I acting this way? Where did that come from?” Recognize that it’s not the true you – it’s the learned you and what you learned doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the truth. In that moment, choose based on your values, based on your heart, based on whatever belief system that you have. But if you can, at least, choose it consciously and even ask yourself, “How conscious is this choice? Is this something that I’m thinking about right now or is my past dictating this decision?”
If you can do this from a conscious perspective, you’re going to have more energy, and it’s going to work out better for you, because it’s not going to be driven by the fear, the doubt, the worry, the anger. All those things are from the past.
Live on Fire!
D. Luke Iorio, CPC, PCC, ELI-MP
President & CEO
Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC)