One of the differences between us and the family Pup is the fact that we have an ego and he does not… and it’s for the same reason that we have tons of problems and he does not. Well, I might me exaggerating a bit, but only slightly. Our ego has the knack of making problems for us; he may not be our worst enemy but it certainly looks as if he was trying to do just that.
Just in case you are wondering, the ego is that little voice inside your head that you hear when you feel offended for one reason or another; that same little voice that wants you to keep up with the Jones, drive the latest model car, spend a fortune on a suit you’ll only wear twice (a marriage and a funeral) will turn you into an ax-murderer if your better half cheats on you… and on… and on… and on…
In one word, your ego wants you to be king of the hill and head-rooster in the chicken pen; and if it doesn’t happen, you break out in hives, blow a casket or both. Let’s face it, the ego is a tyrant that won’t let you have any peace if he feels that you are being humiliated or slighted in any way, shape or form. It could be said that the ego is the short fuse on the big petard that a single spark could set off.
If you don’t recognize yourself (and your ego) in that picture it’s because you have this little mechanism in your brain that is very effective in hiding your own truths from yourself. The way that this little mechanism works is by sublimating (or transforming) certain feelings into more socially acceptable forms. A killing rage could be transformed into some psycho-somatic condition, into depression or into some self-destructive behavior. The ego is behind it all; but it is not recognized as such.
Understanding the ego
At the base of it all, the ego’s main function is to keep us (and itself) alive. And the only way that he knows how to do that is by having us repeat the same patterns over and over again and never changing those patterns; and by always insisting that we are always right and others wrong. To understand the ego, first we have to understand why and how he wants us to maintain the same patterns and why he wants us to be right all the time.
Patterns and the bank of references
Everything that we ever experienced, since the day that we were born, is carefully registered in our brain. This great collection of information forms a bank of reference that the brain uses to guide us in everything that we do. The ways this mechanism works is very simple; when we meet a challenge (tiny or large) successfully, the brain takes note of how we did it, and for the remainder of our life, when that same challenge (or situation) comes up, we will react in the same exact way.
What this all means is the fact that we are little automatons; perfectly programmed to react automatically to any stimulus that comes up. We go through life repeating over and over again; stimulus, response; stimulus, response – ad nauseam! That’s a fact… but a fact that your ego might not let you accept. The very idea that we go through life as programmed little robots goes against previously held beliefs; so the ego will automatically reject it… and like good little robots, we’ll accept his decision… cute; don’t you think?
The ego and the need to be always right
As we said before, the ego’s prime function is to keep us (and itself) alive. The way that he does that is by insisting that we keep our robotic behavior and keep on meeting any situation that comes up with the same pattern that we used before. That pattern was successful in keeping us alive in the past and changing it might present a risk that the ego does not want us to take. That’s why we resist new concepts or notions that are contrary to our previously held beliefs.
How to escape
The ego is an absolute lord and master and will resist successfully any frontal attacks. We cannot dictate to the ego but we can fool him. That is done by giving him the space necessary to express himself freely and with no opposition… and once he has done that, he will leave us free to act and react in any way we choose. The principle behind that is simple; what we resist, persist… but what we allow to be, simply dissipates and goes away.
Recognizing the fact that our ego is lord and master is a feat unto itself. It goes against previously held beliefs therefore; as good little robots, we reject it; as we tend to reject any notions contrary to our previously held beliefs. Luckily, we have this tool at our disposal that allows us to circumvent this situation. And that’s by creating space to allow the ego to express itself without confronting it. When we’ve done that, the ego gets out of the way and leaves us free to act in any way we so desire; and we are free to stop being docile little robots.
It is wise to remember that what we resist, persist… and what we allow to be will soon dissipate and go away. The way we gain total control… is by giving up trying to control. It may not sound logical; but it certainly works. Try it and see.
Enter Shamou’s forums here.