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Ego & Relationships. A Useful Tool or a Recipe for Disaster?
This is another infamous free writing post which means that I’ll be ranting from personal experience and I’ll do my very best not to project (too much).
If you’re a frequent reader. you know by now that I like to contextualize so here it goes; got to write about this out of a friend’s request that got me thinking that it might be of interest to more people; let’s hopefully don’t disprove it.
It makes sense to talk about Ego first, in general. I have learned that Ego is now to be found inside our head within the Mode Default Network, which from a purely practical perspective is to moderate and distribute the messaging between all brain areas, meaning that they don’t normally communicate directly (Except from when you‘re in deep meditative states or undergoing a psychedelic experience).
From another angle; the evolutionary one Ego has the basic task of keeping you alive, meaning right around your 7th birthday you no longer feel “one“ with the Whole. You recognize yourself as a separate independent (so to speak) entity with attributes, personality, traits, character and so on... From this stand point we’ve evolved to survive and Existence takes care of that by making us aware of our “individual” experiences in Life, which if it isn’t clear by now simply means that it‘s harder to survive in the Wilderness if we’re blissfully contemplating our limitlessness while a predator, or a storm or any other form of threat approaches.
That my friends, is why we have an Ego (or a felt sense of one). Now, the thing in the so called modern World is that we’re run by this voice in our heads that is constantly interpreting reality around us. No problem at all if we didn’t believe with such certainty what that voice says, mostly because more often than not our self talk isn’t the most appreciating one. The real problem is that as useful as Ego is for our survival it really is a lousy Master; and we all have more than enough proof of that in our life experiences.
The good thing is that we can have the best of both Worlds (hence the explosion of meditation techniques, studies and apps lately). There’s a way to create balance between what we identify ourselves to be and what we really are (more of that later).
Back to the title, evidently the relationship we have to our Ego is going to determine to a large extent the quality of ALL relationships, including the one with ourselves (I’d argue it to be the most important one).
By now you know where I’m going with this, there have been books and movies and essays about this (don’t worry I wont write that much).
The quality of our relationships is directly proportional to our ability to des identify ourselves from the inner voice in our heads; simply put. It has just one way (normally a rigid one) to experience Life, “our” way so by default its going to resist anything that goes against its preconceived notions of reality (include ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING HERE: Beliefs, Upbringing, Education, Trauma, Culture, Religion, Ambitions and the list seems to be endless).
The way to get out of this rabbit whole is by constantly reflect upon everything that we believe we are. EASIER SAID THAN DONE that’s a fact. It is also the way out, because that (talking about relationships) bridges us to the person or people in front of us. By creating that little distance between the Ego and our ability to perceive it we are then able to understand, appreciate, connect etc... Beyond fixed ideas, which in return will allow us to respond as oppose to react thus creating a positive feedback loop that nurtures loving mature respectful and meaningful relationships. We‘ve al had examples of both ends of the spectrum, the temper tantrum out of something (that normally after the heat settles) we recognize as something stupid or not that big of a deal. On the other hand, when we’ve been able to respond authentically after reflecting (even briefly) about the situation, the outcome radically different. The vast majority of times for the better.
This is something that has worked for me, start practicing daily. Reflect, shift your perspectives just for fun, evaluate different outcomes, scenarios,; place yourself in somebody else’s shoes and truly stay there until it feels as if you‘re that person. Start “small” with things that doesn’t seem so relevant or life threatening and slowly climb up the ladder until you’re able to take a step back every time regardless of the sensitivity of the situation. It’s pretentious to ask you to trust me but still I do ask you, the outcome always leaves you with a better taste, because you acted as a conscious Human Being as opposed to a triggered animal that reacts out of mere instinct.
Let’s close this off by saying this: Ego is useful in the material World, it‘s practical and I’d even dare to say necessary sometimes. Just don’t let it run the show, there’s always the You behind observing life unfolding, take a little step back and experience this. Once is done once you know and there’s only moving forward; I can‘t tell you that it will all be love and honey (it’s highly likely it won’t) but at the very least it will be more real and to me that’s worth the effort.