Your Ego Thoughts VS Your Higher Self
Whether you’re into spirituality and self-help or not, you’ve probably heard a lot about the ego. Most discussions about ego cast it as a villain in your life. We actually have an interesting and different take on the ego that we’d like you to think about.
Before we get to that, however, it’s good to review why you should care in the first place.
Then, in a future article that we’ll link to at the end of this one, we’ll provide a few simple mental exercises you can use in your life to identify and work with ego-based thoughts.
What Is The Ego?
Psychology has one view of the ego while conventional, modern spirituality has a slightly different view.
Freud’s Ego Thoughts
The psychological concept of ego comes from Freud’s Personality Theory. He discussed the ego in conjunction with two other concepts, the Id and the Superego.
Freud saw these three personality components as developing at different stages in our lives and being ‘responsible’ for different things.
According to Freud’s model of the psyche, the id is the primitive and instinctual part of the mind that contains sexual and aggressive drives and hidden memories, the super-ego operates as a moral conscience, and the ego is the realistic part that mediates between the desires of the id and the super-ego. – Simply Psychology
Basically, Freud saw the ‘Id’ as the base and primitive part of our minds and the ego as the middle ground between it and our superego, or morally conscious part. It’s important to also note that Freud saw the ego as an unconscious part of our psyche. He also saw the superego as being influenced by societal conventions and group understanding of what is moral.
This is interesting when we review what many spiritual teachers say about the ego. That seems to have developed from a Jungian perspective.
Jung’s Ego Thoughts
Carl Jung is arguably the other most famous name in psychology, but his views incorporated more Eastern philosophies and ofter create the basis for more spiritual perspectives. Things like dream symbolism are usually rooted in Jungian ideas.
Jung built on Freud’s concept of the ego by delving into questions like what the ego knows about itself and what its role is in our greater development as aware humans.
Anyone who has any ego-consciousness at all takes it for granted that he knows himself. But the ego knows only its own contents, not the unconscious and its contents.- Carl Jung, The Undiscovered Self, via Mind That Ego
The Ego In Eastern Philosophy
According to Psychology Today which gives an excellent discourse on the way we see the ego in today’s society, ego is the concept of the self to Eastern philosophers. In this context, ego is the “I am” concept. Ego is the named self, the self of self-consciousness of self-recognition.
This translates into a view of the ego as a self-centered stumbling block of false perception of our personality as the highest form of who we are. These traditions, of course, prefer to remind us that we are eternal love or extensions of source or simply universal energy. This is the counterpoint to the ‘ego’ in this context.
Balancing These Views About Ego Thoughts
There are a lot of spiritual sources that will tell you any negativity you experience comes from your ego. We’re actually not about that. We believe that the universe gave you an ego for a reason. Just like your emotions, you can use it as a tool instead of letting it define your thoughts and actions.
We enjoy the idea that there is a true duality to life. There is both endless abundance and scarcity. We both create our own experience and experience life through our connection with others. When you can shift your perspective from a lower thought to a higher thought, that’s always a positive exercise.
We don’t reject the ego as something bad, however, because lower thoughts aren’t bad. The ego isn’t our enemy, it is part of us and can be integrated into the holistic concept of our human experience.
Lower thoughts aren’t bad, but they’re not as helpful or nurturing to you as higher thoughts in many cases. When we can recognize where impulses, thoughts, or emotions are coming from, we can examine them and process them in a better way. That’s one reason we like to think about our egos.
What Could Be Good About Your Ego Thoughts?
Terms like good and bad aren’t usually very helpful when it comes to inner work, but getting ridiculous about the terms we use won’t help you either. So let’s apply ‘good’ and ‘bad’ to the ego for a minute to show how it can be useful.
Your ego might emerge and start making noise when your boundaries are violated. You might see it when you’re activating motivation to achieve a goal. It may spur you on to greater achievements or signal that something isn’t completely harmonious about your current experience.
We like to use our ego like rocket fuel and like a smoke alarm. We fire it up a little when we need some motivation and if we hear it go off randomly, we check around for trouble.
What we try not to do is let our ego run rampant or control us. It’s really important to remain aware of your ego and use it as a tool and counterpoint, not to kill it completely. This is just our opinion, of course.
Working With Your Ego
Want to hear our take on using your ego for good? Come check out our follow-up article on the topic!