“Two people have been living in you all your life. One is the Ego, garrulous, demanding, hysterical, and calculating; the other is the hidden spiritual being, whose still voice of wisdom you have rarely heard or attended to.”……….Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
Sogyal Rinpoche gave a wonderful description of the Ego in the simplest of terms. What is Ego? Have you ever seen your Ego? Like a mirror example of yourself, your Ego gives you an illusionary and influential view of your nature. Allowing your Ego to get the better of you and believing it to be your identity is a very negative assessment of yourself, making you live either a life of self-importance or low self-esteem, away from reality and the potential to be a better person.
Understanding Ego, and It Integrates Into Personality
In his famous psychoanalytic theory, Sigmund Freud stated that personality comprises three elements, the ID, the EGO, and the SUPEREGO. All these combine to create the complexity of human behavior.
The most impulsive part of your personality responding directly to primal urges and desires. ID is like an animal or even a newborn child, stubborn to the point of yelling to get what it wants. Failing to obtain it leads to tension and anxiety. EG: hunger, you feel very hungry if you don’t eat. While we keep ID under control, the force of it stays with us throughout life.
Freud believed two principles governed ID. The first is Eros or libido, the life principle which drives us to eat, breathe and seek pleasure. The second is Thanatos, the destructive principle which drives some to express aggression and violence. The ID acts on its unconscious desires irrespective of consequences.
The Ego is part of conscious personality and develops from the ID, controlling its impulses to be socially acceptable to present civilization. The Ego is not a true personality but what people think about themselves and how they project themselves onto others. The Ego, unlike ID, is reasonable and functions in the conscious, preconscious, and unconscious mind. The Ego controls our behavior, causing us to think before we act. While Ego is informally used as a term to describe a form of narcissism, it can positively affect personality, preventing the id from exerting influence. Sometimes the Ego fails to control the Id and allows it to run free but on a course set by the Ego.
The Superego consists of the moral standards we derive from our parents and society, the sense of right and wrong. The superego consists of two parts.
- The conscience: This is the inner voice pointing out our wrongdoing. It can be a punishing force filling the Ego with guilt when giving in to the Id’s desires.
- The Ideal Self or Ego Ideal: The illusionary belief of what we should be or become. The ideal self-drives our career choices, aspirations, treatment of people and how to behave in society.
Just as the superego punishes us through guilt, the superego can also be rewarding through the ideal self, with feelings of high self-esteem and pride. In contrast, if a person has a high level of the ideal self and becomes too high in standards, they might perceive everything they do as a failure. This perfectionism can lead to issues such as imposter syndrome.
What Happens When There is an Imbalance of Ego
Freud says the key to a healthy personality is balancing the id, Ego, and superego. People with an Ego imbalance can display dominating, uncontrollable and impulsive behavior. Some examples of egos out of control were the biggest dictators in history, like Napoleon, Alexander the Great, Hitler, and Stalin. Freud believed that some elements of personality heavily influence people to indulge in their most basic urges. In contrast, others try to counteract these to help humans conform to their reality. Alternately there could be fundamentally moralistic people ruled by a superego who will not accept anyone they feel is bad or immoral.
How to Transform Your Ego to Be a Better Version of Yourself
There is much you can do to transform your ego into a productive and more realistic one. Rather than indulge in the unreal perception of yourself, become self-aware of your true personality which can be unleashed through the following.
Avoid the Need for Approval and Praise
Approval is a blatant desire hard to avoid, yet it is one of the negative influences of a bad ego. The thing about approval is that it doesn’t make us happy; we just keep needing more and more to make us feel good about ourselves. Just like avoiding refined sugar makes your tongue adapt to a healthy taste, yourself adapts without approval to a more fulfilling self.
Seek Opportunities to Praise Others
Your subconsciousness doesn’t operate on your beliefs of reality. Instead, it only acts upon what it hears. Practice empathy, and seek out opportunities where you can praise the efforts of others, which shifts your inner being from a selfish person to a secure person.
Practice True Self-love
True love of self is not narcissism but a deep connection with your inner self or soul. This liberates your intuition buried within you to guide you spiritually into a more compassionate person in tune with a superior consciousness.
Gratitude teaches you to appreciate what you have rather than what you don’t. Daily acknowledging the positive aspects of your life and being grateful for them reduces egoistic desires and cultivates contentment.
Strive for Personal Growth
Investing in yourself through setting goals and working to achieve them will cause you to engage in knowledge activity. You embark on a learning process of new skills and becoming a better version of yourself without the need to compare your life with others.
Being angry and raising your voice does nothing for you. Anger is superficial and stems from insecurity and fear. It gives us a false sense of importance and satisfaction, much like an afraid animal who attacks in defense, thinking it to be appropriate. Instead of being angry, analyze why you’ve been hurt and adopt a more strategic and mature action plan.
Spend Time in Nature
Go on a trek; it does wonders for your Ego. In the face of raw and mighty nature, your Ego is reduced to zero. It is a time when you can truly contemplate your existence in the wide universe and learn what you are a part of rather than thinking about how everything may be a part of you.
Leverage the Laws of Attraction
The laws of attraction state that what you send out in the universe returns to you. Thus, your questions thrown at life could be the other way around, with life asking you the same. Looking for ways to serve others, even if it involves the little things that make people happy, will empower you with a good feeling of yourself. It also unlocks the door for others to reciprocate likewise.
Don’t Get Too Attached
We all like our material possessions, but being unable to live without them creates stress and anxiety. The Ego thrives on materialistic behavior, so let go of external materialism that can control you. Instead, acknowledge how true satisfaction and contentment come from inner growth, not external validation by others or your possessions.
Transforming your Ego is a gradual process that requires patience. The journey can be quickened and strengthened by meditation, nature walks, moments of self-introspection, reflection, and the desire to be a better human being.