What is ego?
- The ego is whatever we refer to when we use the word “I”
- The ego manifests in thinking processes. It will express itself through an endless series of “I” thoughts at any given time – for instance “I am depressed”, “I am happy”, “I am good/bad” etc.
- The ego works for our self preservation, meaning from an evolutionary viewpoint having self awareness gives us a greater chance of survival than not having it.
The specific nature and scope of the ego has been a source of endless debate in the fields of psychology, philosophy and spirituality. In fact, the published literature on the subject is already vast and inexhaustible.
Ego holds some fixed ideas about your identity, meaning that ego really thinks it knows who you are. Often, it behaves as if there is nothing to the mind that lies beyond its conscious control. It views itself to be in charge, and the master of its own house – ego considers itself to be you, in fact.
It may be that for most of the time, life proceeds much as ego expects with everything “normal” and in order. However, try as ego might to maintain stability, life has a way of turning out that will upset this sense of normality. An equilibrium cannot persist forever because things will always change, sooner or later this must happen as change is a fact of life. Your ego, therefore, has to cope with that challenge: for instance with the suffering caused by age, disease and death. Life is not that easy, you need to adjust to it.
Besides change, somehow existence itself produces various moods, fantasies and thoughts that intrude upon your ego causing it to become restless, or possibly quite disturbed. Your ego will want to avoid, control or eradicate these unwanted feelings. Ego will either succeed in getting back its sense of control in good time, or the “negative” feelings will only calm down temporarily, or else you will have to cope with them not going away at all.
When these painful feelings do not abate the ego may then take evasive action. Ego might avoid situations, or people, that act as triggers to your distress because this seems to be the only way of getting back any mental stability. Evidently, this will restrict your freedom to live and enjoy life fully.
One of the recourses available for you to deal with this kind dilemma is psychotherapy.