Mindfulness And Ego: A Dance, Not A War
We’ve noticed that the posts about the ego on our blog gain a lot of attention. This inspires us to talk more about ego today and how it factors into our lives as mindful people.
We think that working with and considering your ego is a healthy part of mindful life. Your ego is not an enemy to fight, but a part of you that you can understand and even integrate in a meaningful way. In fact, the very act of considering your ego as a part of who you are is inherently mindful.
This kind of self examination fosters a more holistic appreciation of the many facets of who we are. It engages our observer self and can help us practice self love and acceptance.
How Is Your Ego Helpful
Although your ego certainly gets a bad rep, it’s also a large part of what you think of as your personality. We think that understanding that there are parts of you that transcend your personality is a way to achieve more flexible thinking, however it’s also important to maintain some sense of self.
This can be tricky business and it often involves holding more than one idea in your mind at the same time. Could it be true that your ego both helps define how you present to the world and hinders your growth? We think it’s possible.
Before moving on, however, we want to mention that when something external erodes your ego it often leaves you feeling adrift or exposed. This can make you vulnerable to things like gaslighting and manipulation.
Your ego can actually throw up some helpful red flags in situations where someone is trying to gaslight you or violate your boundaries.
Because of this, your ego is something you want to keep tabs on rather than ignore or try to eradicate.
What’s Flexible Thinking?
Flexible thinking is a term we’re using here to illustrate a curious and non attached approach to thoughts and beliefs. It hinges on the question: is this moving me closer to or further from my authentic self? Another way to say this is, is this thought or believe serving me or holding me back?
It’s helpful to practice flexible thinking because the more you do something the easier it becomes. Therefore, the more you approach your thoughts and beliefs as something you can change as needed, the more you’ll be able to let go and grow when you need to.
Conversely, when we see our beliefs and thoughts as a part of who we are, it becomes much more difficult to examine them objectively. It’s also harder to step away from behaviors you’ve always done that feel part of who you are but that don’t make you happy or fulfilled.
Mindfulness And Ego Or Your Sense Of Self
According to Mindful.org:
Researchers at the University of Utah recruited over 1,000 undergraduate students, ranging in age from 18 to 53, to complete questionnaires about three traits:
Mindfulness: Their tendency to be aware of their thoughts and feelings and to respond to them in deliberate, non-reactive, non-judgmental ways.
Self-concept clarity: How stable, clear, and unconflicted their views of themselves are.
Well-being: How much they feel a sense of self-acceptance, autonomy, and control over their environment; the quality of their relationships; and their experience of personal growth and purpose in life.
The results showed that more mindful students reported higher well-being—and that a stronger sense of self partly accounted for that link.
Delving deeper into the data, the researchers found that some aspects of mindfulness were more crucial than others. Students who were more non-judgmental about their thoughts and feelings tended to report a particularly clear sense of self; on the other hand, those who were better at observing the present actually had slightly lower self-concept clarity.Mindful.org
We think one of the things this information suggests about the ego is that understanding and accepting it as we work with it can yield more harmony in your life.
We also find that when we repress or ignore things, those things simmer under the surface. They tend to cycle in our thoughts or cause us problems at the worst possible time.
A core concept of mindfulness is observing and becoming aware without judgment and that’s pretty close to our definition of flexible thinking. We consider the two practices to be entwined and we practice them intentionally.
Accepting Your Ego
We might even go as far as suggesting that trying to kill your ego, is kind of an ego-driven goal! Once you do, you’ll then be that enlightened master who is so much more lofty than everyone else, right!?
However, mindfulness really doesn’t work like that. It’s about the journey and the practice. Daily acts of attention and mindfulness improve our experience because they quiet our mind.
In this way, meditation is a microcosm of mindfulness itself. When we meditate, we sit quietly, either allowing our consciousness to feel separate from our physical body or experiencing our body as an integral part of who we are. As we sit, we tune our focus to and away from thoughts and sensations.
Meditation asks us to appreciate and observe, but not attach. This approach is also the key to secular mindfulness.
Keeping all of this in mind, we can appreciate that our ego is a part of us. Ego and emotions both illuminate tension and joy and these forces inspire change.
So, we don’t need to kill our ego, we just need to dance with it in harmony.
Your Thoughts About Mindfulness And Ego
Has this post inspired some thoughts about mindfulness and ego? If so, we’d love to hear about them! Leave a comment below or tag us on Instagram using the hashtag: #MindfulSkara