“So many in the spiritual community have adopted the idea that you don’t need your ego, or they pit the ego against the spirit or soul. Ego has become a dirty word.”
People in the spiritual community use the word ego to describe a part of us that we need to heal or eradicate.
I hear too much crap about people who come from the ego have “lower vibration” emotions and once you’re “out of your ego” you won’t have them anymore.
Id, Ego and Superego
First off, in psychological terms, you need your ego. You do. It’s a psychological component of your personality that helps you function in society. We can thank Dr. Sigmund Freud for coming up with that. Freud said the psyche was structured into three parts: the id, the ego, and the superego. Your id is basically your inner two-year-old. It’s Veruca Salt. It’s the part of you that wants things and doesn’t care how it gets them. It’s not exactly the brains of the operation. It’s the illogical part of you that might say, “I want to ride a goat up the Alps while drinking orange juice. NOW.”
Your ego is the bridge between your id and reality. Your ego is the thinking part of you. Your ego is the part of you that hears the id wants to ride the goat and then comes up with a reasonable, realistic plan to get you on a goat. This is the function of your ego. Your ego controls your conscious behavior and thoughts.
The superego is the part of you that understands and conforms to society’s norms.
Ego can also mean one’s sense of self-esteem, self-importance, or self-worth. This is something you need as well. You need a healthy ego. You need to know you are important because it’s true. You should think highly of yourself; this is an important factor in self-love.
In fact, it’s great and perfectly healthy to have a high opinion of one’s self. I hope you have a high opinion of yourself. I hope you look in the mirror every day and go, “Damn, I look great. And today I’m gonna slay at whatever it is I do because I am a talented and unique individual.” You should be doing this. You should be noticing your unique talents, celebrating them, and giving yourself credit for nurturing and enhancing them.
The trouble comes when you think too highly of yourself. We’ve all met those people who think they’re hot shit; they walk into a room and look around expecting everyone to fall at their feet. This is what you want to avoid.
When you expect people to kiss your ass, tell everyone how great you are, believe you’re the best at everything, or generally act like Kanye West after a few cans of Pepsi, your ego is way out of whack. When there is a complete lack of humility, you’ve got a problem. Plus, it’s just not attractive behavior. When the healthy ego tips out of balance, you’ve got someone like Trump on your hands.
Ego Has Become a Dirty Word
So many in the spiritual community have adopted the idea that you don’t need your ego, or they pit the ego against the spirit or soul. Ego has become a dirty word.
Many of the so-called spiritual sites and books I have read cannot actually define the ego in a coherent way. I have given two pretty solid definitions above. The third definition, used by many in the spiritual community, is harder to pin down. I have heard them call the ego many names: the small self, the mind, the persona, the mask you wear, the part of you that has divorced yourself from God, your false self, habitual thoughts, and fear-based emotions.
These are all different things! So what really is the ego in spiritual terms? Honestly, I have yet to find a definition that makes sense. Even if these people cannot agree on the definition, they all agree it’s BAD. It’s very, very bad. And you have to get rid of it.
This is striking because the first two definitions that I described are not bad. It’s really good and necessary. Without your Freudian ego, your id would go unsatisfied, and you’d quickly develop some complex or mental illness. Without a healthy ego or sense of self-worth, you’d put yourself in very damaging and potentially dangerous relationships and situations. But the so-called spiritual definitions always define the ego as bad. It’s the part of you where all the negativity comes from—all the “bad” emotions and thoughts.
It’s confusing. I think what a lot of people are calling the ego is really fear-based conditioning. Fear-based conditioning leads us to the following places: anxiety, tension, stress, rage, hate, envy, depression, arrogance, self-absorption, self-centeredness, loneliness, isolation, and spiritual starvation. These are neither the healthiest places to be nor the most pleasant places to be. But let’s not call it ego anymore, please. I think it’s confusing and misleading. Let’s replace the word ego with the more accurate phrase, fear-based conditioning.