Journey to wellness: Understanding the ego
The negative effect it can have on our self image and actions
By Josiah Groth
Ego can be described as self identity. It is the “I maker.” Its job is to differentiate between you and what is not you. For many people the ego is viewed in negative light. However, the ego plays very necessary roles in our psyche. Like all things, when it is misunderstood and allowed to fall into negative patterns, and it can be a cause of significant misery and illness.
Here are two negative patterns into which an unchecked ego can fall. The first is a broad one called false identification where ego identifies itself with a label or an event. I am an accountant; I am a Badger fan; etc. While many of these identifications can be helpful to us as we move through life, there are many ways that this identification can create problems.
A second tendency of ego is that it does not care about positive or negative self image. All it cares about is strengthening its own self identifications. What this means is that as long as ego sees itself as unique, then ego does not care if you are a good or bad person. Its job is to be the “I maker,” and that is all that it cares about.
If we allow ego to dominate unchecked, then our self identity can begin to become negative. This can happen easily if we allow ourselves to falsely identify with a negative incident.
Take the example of lying to a friend. Ego might continually to identify with that event and bolster that unique image of itself as the most horrible liar in the world.
Many people come to me saying that they want to be well, but when they are told to do a stretch or change something in their lifestyle they say, “Ugh, I can’t. It’s just something I’m not willing to do.”
That resistance comes from the ego. Our ego fights change not because it is best for our health but because it is best for our ego.
If you think about this, I am sure you will come to realize that there are hundreds of times in your recent past where internal resistance has held you back or self identity has determined your course of action. This is especially true when we need to do something for our health that we do not identify with or do not like.
Next week we will talk about practices that help soften ego’s dominance over our habits.
Josiah Groth is the owner of Back to Bliss Wellness. More information on his practice is available at backtoblisswellness.com.