Manifestations of the Ego
We have created a self out of our thoughts. We did not stop there. We have gone on to identify with this self we have created. That is the ego – our self-created identity. It is who we think we are. But you are not who you think you are. Your thought is a product of your mind and your Being is beyond your mind. Your mind finds it difficult to grasp your Being.
You are a manifestation of God, made in God’s image and likeness. Who you are then is after doing good. But your ego, your false sense of self, is standing in the way of you bringing about good. It does this by trying to prevent you from connecting to your Being and it often succeeds. Your true nature then is obscured.
The ego is always trying to protect itself. So, it is always attacking and defending. You may have been in a relationship where you tried to give love only for you to come out of the relationship feeling hurt. You still have love in you but your ego will repress the feelings or expressions of love in order to feel safe. Who you are was not hurt as a result of the end of the relationship. It was your ego that was hurt. Now it wants to feel safe, so it makes you build a wall around your heart to feel protected. What this wall does is to prevent you from giving or receiving love. The ego then prevents you from expressing who you truly are. You are still who you are but the light of your Being is obscured.
Here are some of the ways the ego manifests:
- Wishing the present was different: The ego does not live in the moment; it cannot. It is preoccupied with past and future. Living in the present moment is actually the only conscious way to feel. The ego is scared of the Now and to live in the Now is the death of the ego. So to continue being in charge, the ego flees the Now to the past or future.
“I will be happy when I become a graduate,” “I will be happy when I get a job,” “I will be happy when I get married”… The ego goes on and on. To become a graduate, get a job, or get married is fine. But when you think that these will make you happy, that they will permanently satisfy you, you have an illusory expectation. You are being distracted from living in the present moment by the active ego. You are waiting to start living. Ego makes you believe that you need this or that to be happy or be at peace. But joy, love, and peace are aspects of your true nature – you have them already. Nothing outside of you can give you these. Things can only give you momentary pleasure. Before you know it, that which seemed to have satisfied you some time ago now dissatisfies you. It can even become a source of unhappiness. The ego which does not want to allow what is to be is always searching for more and more. It tells you that you will find peace when everything falls into place.
- Identifying with your story: “I suffered as a result,” “He did this to me,” “She did that”… You keep retelling your story. Telling your story again and again is a pattern the ego likes to hold on to. Complaining about your story puts you in the victim mode and stirs up emotions as if it was still happening. This happens because you have identified with your story. The present is actually different but the ego is keeping you in that “story space” not wanting you to let go of the past. If it keeps you out of the present moment, suspect the ego at work. By retelling your story again and again, playing the victim, you create more drama which the ego feeds on.
- Addiction: When ego wants something like money or sex, it sets out trying to “make it.” It can manipulate or entice others to get what it wants. You are not your ego so even if the ego gets what it wants, it cannot fulfill you. You may get pleasure but it will be short lived. Before you know it, you have an addiction and you engage in a behaviour repetitively trying to fill a hole you consciously or unconsciously perceive to be inside you.
Fame, for instance, can keep you identified to the ego. Ego is an idea of who you are which you project onto the world. People fall in love with the image they have created of the famous person. They fall in love with the image but they really do not care about the person. Fame reinforces the ego and this serves to further disconnect one from one’s Being. The same ego that tells you, “You are smart,” “You are special,” later tells you, “You are dumb,” “You are incomplete.”
The ego leaves you chasing transients, vapours. It urges you toward a life of narcissistic self-absorption. The ego makes you center your existence on the desire of yourself rather than the common good. You then proceed to make yourself the centre of the universe.
What can permanently satisfy the ego? Nothing. As it tries to satisfy itself with this or that, it grows bigger and hungrier like a fire requiring more fuel to sustain it. So, the ego creates a spot light pointed at things outside of us. Unfortunately this keeps us feeling separate from our Being as well as from others.