Our egos are making headlines again as people try to comprehend the chaos and conflicts we’re experiencing in the world and determine how to stop them. Ego, as defined by psychoanalysis, helps us determine our sense of personal identity and self-worth. Derived from the Latin root meaning “I,” it’s the part of us which distinguishes between conscious and unconscious awareness.
Sometimes, we attempt to overcome our egos, falsely believing that this will heal the world, and make us happier and holier. As a minister, I see how this practice often hinders, rather than supports, us in living fully and faithfully. When we attempt to skip steps in our divine growth process, we can bypass feelings of anger, grief, pain and sadness. We also negate our personal talents, gifts, and authenticity so we can find a place to fit in.
At a deeper level, our desire to skip the steps and eliminate our egos becomes a battle of wills: ours against God’s. So it’s important to distinguish between the healthy aspects of ego and the unhealthy ones. When our ego is unhealthy, we:
- Rely only on ourselves, believing that we can spiritualize away sorrow and upset.
- Have few, if any, rules, boundaries, or accountabilities in our personal lives, homes, or businesses.
- Loathe our sacred human failings, limitations, and mistakes.
- Need continual adoration and praise to feel worthy and deserving.
- Share excessive “selfies” and other “look-at-me” social media posts.
- Bully, force, and/or push our ways and beliefs onto those we believe block our path.
- Run from guru to guru seeking eternal enlightenment, especially when one guru becomes a disappointment.
- Fail to find the gentle good humor and laughter in life’s imperfections.
- Work “for God,” rather than “with God.”
In comparison, when our ego is healthy, we:
- Stay accountable and responsible for our behaviour, choices, and decisions.
- Know and accept our personal strengths and limitations, as well as those of others.
- Feel confident and assured in our purpose and how we can share our particular strengths and skills in our communities.
- Ground ourselves in our spiritual practice.
- Connect with teachers, mentors, coaches, and colleagues who support our continued learning and growth.
- Enjoy others’ praise and recognition without requiring it as the only benchmark of success.
- Accept that many things in our world don’t occur our way or on our schedule.
- Strive to love others unconditionally and compassionately, even when we don’t agree with or like them.
Overall, as we live from a healthy ego, we trust our place in the universe. We trust in God as the Divine Source and Sustenance of all. We accept that chaos and disorder are aligning in ways we can’t yet see. Especially, we embrace the wonder and mystery of life, we love ourselves as we are, and we enjoy our journeys, each new step along the way.
© 2018 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks. All rights reserved.