The Purpose of The Ego
Question from a reader:
The pop culture definition of “ego” tends to have negative connotations. What we really mean when we talk about someone being egoic is that they have an inflated ego.
“I’ve been considering writing a blog for over 5 years. One of the largest questions I ask is: what makes what I have to say so special that warrants a blog. This concern feels like what you describe as the (spiritual) “ego” but I’m also curious about the role of the ego in terms of how society/pop culture use the term. So my question is: what is the role/relationship of (pop culture) ego with (spiritual) ego?”
From a spiritual perspective, the ego can also have some negative connotations associated with it, but I think a lot of that comes from the demonization of it from a pop culture standpoint. If we strip all of that away, the ego is simply a thing – it is neutral. Neither good nor bad.
From one of my previous blog posts:
I define the ego as a personality construct of sorts, a persona or an identity that we develop for ourselves. The ego is complex and it’s made up of a series of beliefs that we hold about ourselves and who we are, many of which are shaped by outside forces as we develop as children. The ego is the totality of our conscious self. It is how we see ourselves. This is the Jungian view of the Ego, wherein it is only a small part of the total self – in essence, the part of yourself that is fully known to you. The part that is NOT fully known to you, Jung calls the shadow self. – What’s in a Self? Soul, Personality & Ego
To be human is to have an ego. We wouldn’t truly be human without it. The ego is the mechanism through which we are able to see ourselves as an individual, unique person. It’s what helps create the illusion of separation from all that is, and gives us the opportunity for experience here in the physical plane. Through the ego we get to decide who we want to be.
But back to the inflated ego…
When someone refers to another as egoic, they are really referring to an ego construct a person has created to overcompensate for their perceived shortcomings.
At the end of my blog post on addiction and shame I talk about how each of us has multiple personas: Our true self, our inner false persona and our external false persona.
We often believe that our true self isn’t good enough. That belief, in and of itself, creates a false inner-persona – a skewed view of self. This is the deflated ego. Some people are so resistant to that false view of self that they create yet another persona – a false outer persona – to try and compensate for their initial false perception. The false outer persona tries extra hard to be the opposite of the false inner persona. This is the inflated ego.
But as I mentioned above, the ego is not inherently good or bad. It’s a necessary part of the self. So what we must do is work our way through the false inner and outer personas to reach the true self, and in that process we begin to reshape the ego into something that is more closely aligned to our true self. This is what we mean when we talk about alignment and it’s the process that I facilitate for my clients in my Core Alignment Mentorship Program.