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What is the 'ego' ?

ego personal development personal growth spiritual growth what is the ego Nov 25, 2019

What is the ‘ego’?

 As much as I love the Queen B, her hit single “ego” got the concept and definition of ego totally wrong. When we think ego, we think arrogance conceit. This is just an incredibly small portion of what the ego is.

The ego is a collection of ideas we carry around.

I am what I have

I am what I do

I am my reputation

I am separate from everybody else

I am separate from god


“Ego” is the aspects of yourself that you consider to be “you.” A perfect example of this is a brief self-inquiry assessment.


Who are you? I’m Erica.

Who is Erica? Erica is a female, she is a wife, and she is a mother.

Did Erica exist before she become a wife and mother? Well.. Yes.

So then who were you before you were a wife and mother? I was Erica.

Who is Erica? She is me.

Who is me? I’m Erica. I am me.

Well, that cannot be, because I am ME too.

Are we both ME? Well you are me for you and I am me for me.

Who is me? I am me.

Well, I am ME too.

But you are not me.

Yes, I am. I am ME.

But if you are ME, than who am I?



Every single answer to those questions was answered from an ego standpoint. We have been programmed to listen to our ego. Every single person has some form of an ego. The people are who more attached to one or more of the size ideas that the ego is made up of could be called “an egomaniac.”



If we were to collect 5 random people from the street, and asked them to introduce themselves, their answers would look like this:


I am John. I am 35, I work in corporate America. I drive a BMW. I watch football and I go to the gym 5 times per week.


I am Kayla. I am 22. I am a college student. I am a painter. I am a daughter. I am a friend. I practice yoga.


I am Edward. I am a US Army Veteran. I am 76. I am a husband and grandfather. I play chess at the park every Wednesday.


I am Jen, I am a stay at home mother of 2. I live in a townhome with my family. I am a runner and in my spare time I like to read.


I am Alice. I volunteer at the local Humane Society, I am 68 years old and I love visiting my grand children on the weekends.


Every single person introduced themselves with ideas they carry around within their ego. This does not mean they are bad people, it just goes to show that ego is a major role in our everyday lives.


If you are at a job interview, at an AA meeting, or on a blind date; we are programmed to answer questions about ourselves by how we define ourselves. Ego is powerful and will be with us until we cross over (or become enlightened.) Simply being aware of this is all you need to be able to shift your thought patterns and mind state to a more positive place.


Potential to greatness

I’m sure you’ve heard that as humans, we are only using 5% of our brain capacity. Insane right? With everything we have learned and processed throughout our time in the education system, all of the cognitive abilities we have been taught to do, all of the mindless chatter that is constantly running through our minds all the time –we are still only functioning at a 5% brain capacity.


Now, let’s imagine if we can grow that 5% to 10%, and then to 15%. At 15% brainpower we have to be considered geniuses, right? If you have an average IQ, using 5% brain function than you must have the capacity of holding much more knowledge if you are at 15.


Let’s imagine our brain capacity jumps to 50%. At 50% we would most likely be able to find the cure for cancer. We could help save the rain forest and end the world hunger crisis. And remember, this is only at 50%.


Now let’s imagine what it would be like if only 5% of the worlds population was using the full 100% capacity of our minds. This 5% of the total population have the capability of solving the problems we face in the world today. That 5% can save the world.


Limiting belief systems

Just like we only use 5% of our minds, when we use labels to define us - we are putting ourselves at that 5% capacity level. We are diminishing our potential. We, as human beings are far more capable than we give ourselves credit for. Our potential is beyond our wildest dreams. Once you realize this, your perception of your own reality will shift.


I’m not qualified for that job.

I’m not capable of losing the weight.

I don’t have the time to be in a romantic relationship.

I’m too busy.

I can’t afford it


Every single one of these statements is ego driven. They are coming from the collection of ideas that we carry around. When you think of the ego, think of the Looney tunes cartoon with Bug Bunny where he has an angel on one shoulder, who guides him to the positive – and the devil on the other – who is negative and belittles the ideas Bugs has. The devil is the ego, the intuition is the angel. Every time I notice my ego taking something and building upon it, I get a quick flash of the devil on my shoulder and it quickly bring me back to the moment.


The percentage of ego versus intuition varies from person to person. Until we recognize it, all of us are far more controlled by our egos. We are the stories we tell ourselves. If you tell yourself, you cannot lose the weight, you are not going to lose the weight. If you tell yourself you have anxiety – you will have anxiety. This touches on the concept of the law of attraction, which I will explain further in another chapter.


I am here to tell you. YOU do have the potential for greatness. You are capable of obtaining the things you desire. It’s just getting yourself out of your own conscious mind long enough to realize this. The first thing you need to do is simple. Stop allowing that one negative thought turn into a story you tell yourself.


I want to tell you about my friend Mike. Growing up, Mike was a rising star in our Schools Athletic system. He was popular, an incredible athlete, and both coaches and teachers as well as his peers knew from the young age of 14 that if anyone had the potential of becoming a professional athlete – it would be him.


Mike grew up in an area of our town that didn’t exactly pop out the best and the brightest. The neighborhood included small, summer homes around a lake that were converted into full year residences. The reputation of his neighborhood plagued every single person who lived in it. They were labeled “The Lakers.”


The Lakers grew up very fast resulting in drinking and smoking at very young ages. Soon after the drinking and smoking came the drugs. It was hard for Mike to have the potential he had with the label of being a “Laker.” At 16 years old, Mike was the starting pitcher of our Varsity Baseball team and clocking his speedball at 96 miles per hour. There were college scouts coming to Varsity Baseball games to watch him. He truly was a rising star.


After graduating high school, even with all of the clout he had developed, Mike never went to college. He kept on telling himself he would never get picked up by a minor or major league baseball team. It was easier for him to find a job and get to work. His coaches were devastated by his decision to not pursue a college degree or tryout for the minor leagues. In fact, the whole graduating class was shaking our heads at the situation.


Mike now works for a chain lawn service. Distributing treatments to costumer’s lawns and living in a one story, modest home with his wife and daughter.  Mikes story is a perfect example of how powerful our belief systems that we hold for ourselves truly are.


As the Buddha stated.

“What you think, you become.

What you feel, you attract.

What you imagine, you create.”


Learning to separate the stories we tell ourselves from the potential we have as beings of energy is the first step into creating a more positive life. If you keep on allowing the stories you tell yourself to be your reality, then that is exactly what your life will be; the stories you tell yourself. Learn to separate yourself from your ego. We must understand that the ego will always be present – but its power can be diminished.


Taking your power back

Once you understand that your worst enemy is yourself (ego), you start to understand just how powerful your negative thoughts can be on your perception of yourself and in your overall life.


How do we take our power back?  How do we stop allowing the ego to control our lives? The answer is simple; we become the observer.


Let’s think of it this way.


There is a car. The car is you. It doesn’t matter what kind of car it is. It can be whatever type of car you want it to be.


In this car, there is a driver & a passenger.


The driver spends his or her energy driving the vehicle. Being fully aware of traffic signs, the other cars around them, construction on the road, traffic. The driver being the responsible party is going to get annoyed. They are going to feel the frustration of having to deal with reckless drivers, traffic, construction, check points. Let’s label these scenarios as “thoughts.” It doesn’t matter, if they are positive or negative thoughts.


The driver of the vehicle is going to have a front row seat to everything happening around the vehicle. When there is a traffic jam, they are the ones feeling the disappointment and agitation. If they get a ticket from a police officer, they are the ones that feel the negative emotion with that. We feel the thoughts we think.

Now, let us take a different approach to this. Let’s say, we take our selves out of the driver seat and into the passenger side. We are still in the same vehicle, we still have the same destination, but instead of being the driver – we become the observer. As the observer, we are able to see a totally different perspective of the situation. We are able to observe the instances and obstacles along the car ride without situations taking a toll on our mental state. If there is traffic, we might a become irritated but we can quickly snap out of that negative stream of thought because instead of living our thoughts, we are simply just observing them.


When we become the observer, we are able to consciously notice any positive or negative spikes in our mental and emotional state. We can understand exactly what are our triggers are and instead of allowing these triggers to bring you on a negative spiral, we, the observer, have the power to let go of any negative feelings or thoughts that come into our conscious mind.


Through my life, I never considered myself an “anxious” person. I never had crippling anxiety to the point where my life had to be put on hold. Of course, being a human being, I did encounter times within my life when I became effected by situations and circumstances where anxiety would pop it’s nasty little head in but I would not say I suffered from it.


It was not until I got out of the drivers seat of my mind and placed myself into the passenger seat that I had a front row center view of just how much worry and anxiety were key players in my everyday life. The first day I become the passenger of my life was the day I was able to fully witness my thought patterns and their effects and how they brought no value to my life. I observed one negative thought turn into 2 negative thoughts, than to 3, than it turned into a morning filled with a downward negative thought spiral. I quickly noticed how easy just ONE negative thought could ruin one day. Could you imagine the power that all your negative thoughts combined can have on your life? 




Go to your calendar and choose one day. Circle it, put a star in it, set a reminder on your phone. I want you to fully commit to being the observer of your thoughts that whole day.  Have a notebook or journal handy throughout your day.


Wake up 15 minutes early and find a relaxing, comfortable place to sit and quiet your mind for 15 minutes. Close your eyes, and just let yourself be still. Meditation is not about silencing the mind; it’s about quieting it. If a thought comes in, simply observe and it and let it pass. Gently bringing yourself back to your breath. After this 15-minute meditation, write down how you feel. Do you feel different from other mornings? Do you feel different from last night? Whatever you are feeling, good or bad, write it down.


Now, go about your normal day. Have breakfast, take a shower, drink your coffee, whatever it is you usually do. Remember, we are observing our behavior and thought patterns today – not living them. Think of yourself as a ‘Do It Yourself Mindful Super Nanny.’



Every hour, check in with yourself. Set a timer on your phone, write a note to yourself on your hand, whatever it is you need to do remember to take 1-3 minutes at the end of every hour to write down any beliefs or thought patterns you experienced in that last hour.


Did you become annoyed walking into your bathroom to have it be a total mess? Did you feel some judgment towards the woman news anchor whose outfit was not appropriate for daytime television? Did you become anxious and annoyed trying to get your children to the bus stop on time? Did getting stuck behind a slow driver get you irritated? It does not matter how big or small the circumstance is. Write it down.  Use the below prototype when journaling:


What Occurred:

What Emotions Did you feel?

How long did those emotions last?


It’s crucial to remember to check in with yourself every hour. We must be fully be aware of the emotions and thought patterns we come in contact with on a regular or semi regular basis in order to be able to transform our thought process and negative patterns.


Throughout your day, try and remind yourself that you are the observer, not the owner of your thoughts. With just this realization, you will feel better. Like most things in life, we have to remind ourselves when a change occurs. How many times have you caught yourself dialing an ex, not cause you are lonely and wanting to rekindle the romance, but because it’s out of pure habit? How many times have you forgotten your reusable bags in the trunk of your car and only realizing it until your shopping cart is half way filled?


It takes conscious effort to try a different approach. It takes commitment and sacrifice in order to make any type of change. There will be times throughout this exercise that you forget you are the observer. You will get sidetracked from this action and become your thoughts. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Just simply put yourself back into the passenger seat.



At the end of the day, sit and down and reflect on your day of observation. Go through your journal. What occurrences stood out? How many times within the day did you feel a certain emotion? Was there an underlying emotion for a big portion of the day because of an event that occurred?


Don’t judge yourself upon the results of this exercise. The human experience is made up of thousands of different moods, feelings and emotions. Becoming the observer gives us a much different approach into analyzing our behaviors and our points of no return. This exercise allows us to pin point the thought patterns we want to change and what things we could have handled differently. 


We have to make conscious evaluations and notice our triggers, thought patterns, and behaviors that create the energy flow within our lives.



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