“That’s just your ego, trying to make sure it stays in charge. This is what ego does. It keeps you feeling separate, keeps you with a sense of duality, tries to convince you that you’re flawed and broken and alone instead of whole.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
When you think of all the problems in the world and within ourselves, if you think about it deeply it really all stems down to one thing – separation. Fear, anxiety, jealousy, depression, and so on, occur because the ego (separate identity) wants to express itself – it wants to matter, so no matter what the situation, it positions itself to be known, to be heard. The ego is the part of our mind that tells us “I am separate” in a million different ways, like victimization, vanity, unworthiness, guilt, shame and many other manifested forms. Likewise, our sense of separation creates resistance to others and their views or feelings. In order to be “right” our ego makes those that don’t agree with us, “wrong”. This separation expands out to all our relationships, and then to our communities, mankind and the world.
Since feelings of separation manifests itself as either a highly positive or negative view of ourselves with other feelings as mentioned above, such as egotism or unworthiness, when we suffer from these feelings we have a tendency to look outward (separately) to resolve the suffering. For instance with acute feelings of unworthiness, we might tend to develop behaviors that are reclusive, demeaning, or destructive because deep down, we don’t feel worthy of anything better. The solutions will always come from outside to protect the ego identity of unworthiness.
The ego development occurs from very young childhood the first time we experience something that is unpleasant our different from our past experiences. The choices at that moment of discovery are endless, but based on how our parents nurtured us, siblings, environment, or many other factors, the young child may begin to feel a sense of isolation or separateness that they have not experienced before. The young child will experiment with various ways to prevent the unwanted experience from happening again. When we begin to divert the unwanted experiences to a cause anywhere outside of the self, the separate identity begins to form. Even very young children have the intuitiveness to accept these unwanted experiences but not get attached to them in fear or anxiety. But a more typical response is to begin to seek reasons outside the self that caused the unwanted experience and begin to develop behaviors to avoid and deflect. Thus, we begin to feel, “I have limited control over what happens to me. In order to avoid experiences I don’t want, I must become…………”
Imagine the young baby that gets his/her hand caught in a drawer. While one child may accept the pain and the reason for the experience as knowing he/she stuck their hand in a drawer, after the pain passes, they move on to the next moment. Another child may relive that painful moment frequently and develop a squeamish aversion to opening and shutting drawers harshly, or they may later blame their parents for not securing the furniture. We see both of these behaviors all the time as babies are developing. Depending on how the parents respond both during and after the event and how the baby is allowed to process the event (assuming they are not seriously injured), also plays a huge role in the choices this child will take from now on.
There is no right or wrong here, only an explanation for how as tiny infants we do not experience duality or separation, and later we learn the concept of separation by the choices that we make from challenging experiences. We are all subject to this eventually. I sincerely believe we all have at least a small amount of separation ego identity to deal with. And perhaps, this is as it should be. After all, like all paradox, how could we recognize and embrace wholeness without the experience of both.
Healing this sense of separation comes first by acknowledging it. Resistance, disbelief and other strains of negative feedback toward acceptance of separation is the ego’s fight to keep you within the confines of your own life experiences, which may be painful but it is knowable and controllable. Ego can only thrive when you do not feel complete, whole, and totally loved.
Writer and mythologist, Joseph Campbell, advises that getting rid of the ego as dictator and instead turning it into messenger, servant, and scout – to actually be in your service, is the trick. Instead of the ego saying “I am not you out there”, work with ego understanding and transcendence to say “I AM you – We are all one.” We do this by first acknowledging the ego as our separate identities (weak, unworthy, selfish, lazy, superior, smarter), and then by detaching ourselves from the gripping beliefs the ego promotes. It is acknowledging that the separate ego identity is a “story” we have made up to accommodate and cope with our past experiences.
When we acknowledge that our behaviors are coming from ego, then that awareness give us an opportunity to make a different choice. HERE IS OUR WAY!! The acknowledging and awareness of the ego behavior is the opportunity to dissolve the ego tendency by choosing a different behavior. We are not required to demolish the ego or even analyze its development. We only need to recognize that our suffering is due to remaining within the ego identity because of ego’s fear of the unknown and resistance to what is, and then use our gift of life to make choices that serve a higher self and a higher goal. We must begin to recognize that we do matter, of course, but not because of the acts and achievements of a human identity, those will fade away soon enough, but because we are here right now, breathing, loving, and honoring all. Also, dissolving the ego does not mean we give up our pursuits of greatness or even fame or uniqueness. But to dissolve the separate ego identity we must give up the idea that we gain our success or achievements because we are separate or special, and instead know that it can only be done by the great fullness of our Allness.
Finally, spend some time remembering the before ego – me. As humans, we are born without a conception of separateness. At birth, we are all part of the same experience, everything is new and we are a part of it. From a scientific and biological standpoint, we are all part of the same whole. It all works together harmoniously to create a living Universe. And spiritually, there is not even a concept of separateness. We are all a drop in the Creators ocean of Love. What we do to one, we do to all – and God is the essence and spiritual substance of all of us, the breath of Universal Life in all of us.
As we grow in our spiritual lives and begin to dissolve the idea of separateness to others, to the world and to God, we transcend the separate ego identity and awaken your soulful identity. Our worldly identity is a tough egg to crack, but the freedom is incredible. Just one glimpse of this wholeness and the connection begins to grow. Every night, as you conclude your day with gratitude, remember your Source and go to your nightly rest, embraced by Universal Love.
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- Tagged as: dealing with suffering • ego • ego identity • feeling left out • healing the soul • identity • isolation • separation • soul • suffering • togetherness • universal oneness • unworthiness
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