“Recognize egoism as fallacy! The opposite is not to be understood as altruism! This would be love of other supposed individuals! No! Get beyond ‘myself’ and ‘yourself’! Experience cosmically!”― Nietzsche, Kritische Studienausgabe
Ego is that slithery, slimy aspect of self that, at times, is difficult to recognize. Because it’s something we learn growing up from adults and we cannot recognize its affect on us when we grow up. Children do not have ego; hence they are filled with love. In a nutshell ego is lack of love.
Ego is like yin and yang:
Like yin and yang, ego attacks us in two ways. Yang ego is arrogance. It’s when we react immediately. We blame others, get angry, etc. Yang ego makes us feel superior to others and it also makes us defend ourselves. Ego acts like yin out of fear. It stealthily enters our minds from the back door, without us noticing it. Its attack is a multifaceted phenomenon.
Blame game is another name of ego:
What happens when we play blame game in our daily life? We are either blaming ourselves or others, though mostly others. This constant blaming creates discontent resulting in carrying the burden of unseen perpetual complaining and animosity. Blame game of ego always reminds me of what 18th century Muslim poet Ghalib wrote. He is considered Shakespeare of Urdu poetry. Urdu and English are the national languages of Pakistan.
The whole life we kept making the same mistake, Ghalib Dust was on (our) face and we kept cleaning the mirror
Ego robs us of present by keeping us in the past:
When we are thinking about the past, be it years ago or minutes ago, it means we have invisible emotional strings attached to the past. It also means we are not living in the present. For instance, it could be that nagging voice reminding us of a reply that we could have given during the argument. A brother-in-law of mine (God bless his soul) used to say, “If, after an argument, you remember the punch you should have hit the other person with, hit yourself with that punch.” In other words, forget about the past.
Like a chameleon ego changes its color:
Another way ego creeps in is thinking about something someone has done or said to you. Two monks and a woman – Zen lesson comes to mind, when I think of this angle of ego. It’s is the story of two monks, one of whom carried a woman to help her cross the river, after taking a vow to never touch a woman.
Ego is comparison:
Comparison is another form of ego’s attack. It tells us we should have done this because it is required by the culture, family, country, or because I think so. This is a way of comparing ourselves with others in order to feel good or bad about ourselves.
I’m not a psychologist but I think even procrastination is the result of feeding our ego.
Ego should be a foe or a friend?
At the moment I consider ego to be a foe. I’m working on making it a friend so that I lead it instead of being led by it. I will write another blog when that happens!! As Rumi said,
“I long to escape the prison of my ego and lose myself in You (God)”
Some strategies to cope with ego:
- Focus on breathing and allow the thoughts to come and go with ease.
- Be aware of your thoughts.
- Observe your thoughts and just say, “Isn’t that interesting.”
- Do not judge your thoughts, just release them in a pink bubble of love.
- Put an alarm every hour to remind yourself about breathing practice.
- Create a visual fun space in your mind and tell the thoughts to come and have fun while you focus on breathing.
- Remember: Ego is a learned behavior. Children don’t have ego!!