Some people hear their own inner voices with great clearness or they live by what they hear. – Legends of the Fall
Lets First Cover the “Ego”
What is the ego?
The Ego is a creation made by you. Ever since you came into this world, you have been unconsciously building your ego. You have had countless experiences, observed people’s reactions to you, created behavioral patterns, defined your own morals and values, identified role models you look up to, and more. In the process, you have created a personal identity. You are _______ (insert your name). At least that is what your parents named you. However, does that name define you? Alternatively, is it scribbled shapes (defined as “letters”) forming a “word” that people can identify and express to others using their voice? Just for fun, take a second and think about how attached you are to your name.
Now, besides the ego, you have your AUTHENTIC SELF. This is who you really are. It includes your true desires, wants and needs, the way you act when you are not thinking and when you are just living and breathing in the present moment acting on your highest inspiration.
Here are some examples of your authentic self:
- You want to connect with people
- You want to love and be loved
- You want to enjoy yourself and feel good in the moment
- You want to attract the opposite sex
These are qualities of basic human nature that we cannot deny.
On the other hand, examples of you being in your ego are when you are ‘stuck in your head,’ reacting emotionally to things (almost uncontrollably), socially anxious, affected by peer pressure, worried about what your family and friends think about you, fearful of the unknown, thinking you can’t do something, and insecure. Your engrained habits, knowledge, past experiences, social conditioning, traumas, values, and principles are all connected to habitual ego patterns of thought and emotional reactions.. It is not necessarily a bad thing. It can be used to your advantage if you take control over it. However, it can greatly hinder your growth and life progress if you let your egoic habits control you.
Think about all the different ways you act, and the different ‘masks’ you can put on.
Do you have the same behavior and state of mind at work as you do at a late night party with your friends? What about when you are conversing with a close friend verses when you are talking to a very attractive person of the opposite sex?
In addition, I can almost guarantee that you act differently when talking to a cute guy/girl compared to a friend of the same gender. So it is almost as if you have a variety of ‘characters’ that you carry in your back pocket, and you choose (consciously or unconsciously) which one to bring out depending on the circumstances.
Why is this? Well, it’s the social conditioning you have accumulated over the years through experience and learning. A lot of it is completely necessary and useful. However, the improper use of the ego can easily hinder your growth, presence and overall happiness.
The ego wants to be comfortable and is afraid of change. The more you stay within your comfort zone, the more you reinforce it and the more the ego fears the unknown.
It sees the known structure as its reality. Change is death to this ‘reality’ and that is scary. Whenever you try something new or uncomfortable, the ego will flare up and react as a pre-programmed response system. The ego is always in reaction mode.
Your Ego Creates Habits
Long-term potentiation is a theory that the more you practice a habit, the more your brain actually hard wires it and over time it becomes automatic. A simple example would be driving a car. It was difficult at first and had a high learning curve, but once you got the hang of it, it became automatic. Now you coast on your drive to work as though it’s nothing. The more you drive certain routes (like your commute to work), the more automatic it becomes. That is why many times you will not even remember your drive to work because you were on ‘autopilot.’
You can also do this in other aspects of your life. The more you repeat habits and stay within your imagined ‘boundaries,’ the more these limits become strengthened. The stronger they are, the more difficult it is to escape them. That is why it is so difficult for a shy person to stray out of their comfort zone. If they want to become more outgoing, they will have to work very hard, possibly for years, at getting past the walls they have built up (I know I did).
Freedom is death of ego. The more your ego controls you, the less free you are. When you consider a goal that seems unachievable, say running a marathon, you immediately think; “I can’t do that.” Then right there you decided that you wouldn’t even attempt pursuing a marathon because you have already given up.
This type of mindset is JAILING and self-defeating.
Why would you want to hinder yourself? Do you want to be free or carry around ball and chains everywhere you go? Anything is possible if you set your mind to it. Saying something is impossible is another self-inflicted illusion.
Do you think Michael Phelps told himself everyday, “Winning 18 Olympic gold medals is simply too difficult of a task to accomplish” before he DID IT? I don’t think so.
Your ego wants encouragement and reinforcement. It thrives on it.
If you label yourself as a republican, do you tend to follow liberal or conservative media sources? Chances are it’s the latter of the two. It is in our nature to seek out things that agree with our ideas and opinions. It makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside. Whenever we express our views to someone and they agree with us, it makes us feel good. The opposite is true as well, if we are thinking subjectively. As humans, we naturally yearn for attention and approval. We want people to accept us, love us and encourage us.
However, it is also important to think objectively and gather as much information as possible, even if it disagrees with your preconceived notions. Even though your ego would never admit it, your beliefs could be misinformed or straight up wrong. This can actually be a GOOD thing because you can better your understanding and become closer to the truth of the matter. It is important, at any given moment, to accept that you could be wrong or else you could be hindering your growth and becoming emotionally attached to ideas that simply aren’t true.
You may even have to cringe while reading an opposing political article; however, there could be some important ‘gems’ of information that could help expand your understanding of the issue. You can never gather too much information. It is your choice what you want to take in and what you want to ignore. So next time someone disagrees with you, or you read a conflicting news article, approach it as a learning experience rather than a burden to your ego.
How to separate yourself from your ego and experience true freedom
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR THOUGHTS AND EMOTIONS.
You create your thoughts. They drive your behavior and your emotions. They can either motivate you or put you down.
You also create your emotions. Emotions are largely your choice as well, based on what you consciously choose to focus your attention on. If you focus your attention on how lonely you feel, you will certainly feel really lonely and maybe very sad too. Whereas, when you focus on something very positive like your most exciting goals, then you’ll very quickly feel more energized and motivated.
Sometimes it is better just not to think, or more specifically REACT, as you are more authentic when you have a clear mind. When you are completely void of any fear or anxiety, you are PRESENT and focused only on the moment. You are not stuck in your head.
Before you do something, are you ever worried about the results and what people are going to think of you? If yes, then you are stuck in your head and are being controlled, somewhat, by your ego.
Lets use an example.
Example 1: You see someone you want to talk to (authentic self), but then you start being stuck in your head and having doubts, “Maybe he/she won’t like me,” “I don’t know what to say to them,” “I’m going to sound like an idiot.”
These are all completely pointless, self-harming thoughts that will only hold you back. Now, it’s okay too. Don’t beat yourself up! The first practice is simply awareness of what you’re actually doing to yourself. The funny thing is you actually choose to think these thoughts, but mostly unconsciously.
Solution: Pay attention to these thoughts, and accept that they are unnecessary. Send your thoughts love, say goodbye, and throw them in the ‘trash’ of the back of your mind. Now focus on being more fully in the moment with your 5 senses.
Example 2: You are trying to reach a new goal at the pool, to swim a mile.
You have been training every week for a solid month, and you are going to try the daunting mile. During the swim, you reach the half waypoint and start having negative thoughts, almost against your will. Thoughts like, “I’m so tired,” “I want to quit,” and “I can’t do this” run through your head. These thoughts suck the energy out of you and you start to feel your body’s fatigue more than ever. You want to quit.
Solution: Identify these thoughts as self-harming and accept that they are your ego reactions. Use this new awareness to focus on something more motivating. Such as, “I’m already half way there” I can do this ”Keep going!” Focus your energy on something motivational and energizing.
The Amazing Benefits of Meditation
Meditation might sound to you like a strange Eastern Buddhist practice that is spiritual and maybe slightly weird. Well, it is a spiritual practice, and, it is also a VERY powerful tool.
It changed my life.
I can honestly say that meditation has helped me greatly improve the quality of my relationships, focus and productivity at work, performance at the gym, and my general happiness. I recommend that EVERYONE on the face of this planet try out meditation at least for 5-10 minutes everyday for a week. See how you like it. I believe it would drastically change millions of lives around the globe for the better.
Meditation is a wonderful tool to sharpen your focus, and truly master control over your body and mind. If you have trouble understanding or identifying your ego, this is the most powerful tool that can help you.
Be In the Present Moment
Do this fully, and consciously focus on your highest inspiration in the moment.
What feels most exciting to focus your awareness on right now?
When you see someone, you would like to talk to, but feel nervous (fear), go talk to him or her anyways. That nervous feeling you feel is social anxiety, a habit that you have accumulated over the years. It is there, evolutionarily speaking, to protect you from potential harm. This means that at sometime in your past, on many occasions, you approached someone you wanted to talk to and got rejected one way or another. After these experiences, you (or your ego) learned that you should be more careful when approaching people, especially if you don’t know them, because they could potentially hurt you. However, remember, this is only a habitual pattern of your ego. You DO NOT have to listen to or obey it EVER.
It’s 100% your choice. Use your awareness to step out of your ego, and consciously choose what’s best for you in the moment.
When you want to try something, you’ve never done before but you are worried what your friends and family will think about you, DO IT ANYWAYS simply because You (the real you) are excited to.
Let’s say you want to be a hip-hop dancer but your family and friends doubt you or even make fun of you. Maybe you really have NO style or rhythm whatsoever. That does not mean you cannot get better. You don’t even have to care or pay attention to your friends and family’s reactions anyways. Why should you? You are going after what You want to do and no one should tell you that you cannot. With perseverance and dedication, of course you can become that talented hip-hop dancer you always wanted to be.
Be Honest with Yourself
The [superior man] is willing to bare his soul for the purpose of honest communication and not get caught up in societal role-playing (self-image creation) – Bruce Lee
What do you really want? What are you goals, dreams and desires in life? Are you satisfying your needs, or do you feel like you are trying to fulfill your parent’s desires? Do you make decisions based on your own Inner Voice or do you tend to follow the crowd?
Get to know yourself. Look inside yourself for answers. Forget peer pressures and roles that people want you to play. Find the passion and greatness that is already inside of you.
Take the Cold Shower Challenge.
This may sound very far-fetched and strange. However, taking cold showers for 30 days straight is an incredible learning experience to help you overcome fear. I can guess that 99% of people do not like immersing their bodies in extremely cold water (at least at first) because it is uncomfortable and a huge shock to your body. However, facing this immediate fear head on every day for 30 days is a great learning experience and I highly recommend it to everyone. I wrote a post with my experience of cold showers HERE.
Now how do you reconstruct your ego and make it work FOR you instead of AGAINST you?
Create New Thought And Emotional Patterns
Healthy, motivating, beneficial habitual thought / emotional patterns can help you achieve extraordinary things.
You don’t have to be the victim or feel like you do not have control of yourself EVER. All insecurities are pointless and self-inflicted.
The secret is in the thoughts that you feed your mind. Take your conscious (higher) mind and your subconscious (lower) mind. Your logical reasoning, intellect, willpower and your creativity make up your conscious mind. Whereas, deeply rooted instincts, habits and behaviors compose your lower mind, or subconscious. These ideas include the desire to stay alive, breathe and find potential mates, and are directly linked to your emotional reaction patterns.
All insecurities are pointless and self-inflicted. It’s time to take control of your life and well-being.
How to Reprogram Your Mind
The subconscious mind (and body) acts as a passive observer, while your conscious mind acts as an active commander. Whenever you have a conscious thought or experience, it will be planted in your subconscious mind and slowly digested. Now, if you just think a quick thought and then let it go, it probably will not get past the ‘surface’ of your lower brain. However, if you think about something repetitively for an extended period or if you have an intense experience, it will get deep down in there. Eventually it will recall these thoughts and feelings when you need them.
The subconscious mind acts as a passive observer, while your conscious mind acts as an active commander.
For example, let’s say you tried to pet a cute dog, it growled at you and then tried to bite your hand off. Most likely, the next time you see a dog, you might feel a bit nervous or uneasy and you probably won’t try to pet it. In the worst case, you may never want to pet a dog again.
The frightening experience made an impression on your subconscious mind, and it now whispers to you “be careful” or “watch out” whenever you see a dog.
The same goes with your thoughts, and when you think about something or do something repetitively, it will travel around and get ingrained in your lower brain.
Picture your higher brain (your conscious) as a farmer planting seeds into the soil of the land (your subconscious).
It takes a lot of time for the seeds to grow and they need water, sunlight and consistent attention and care in order to flourish. If done properly, the seeds will eventually send their roots down deep into the soil and down into the land, and they will grow outwardly above the land as well where the farmer can tend to them and receive the ‘fruits of his labor.’
Now this is a metaphor to how your brain works. You (the real you) are the farmer (your conscious or Higher Self) and you can decide what seeds (thoughts) you want to plant over the land (your subconscious or lower brain), when you want to plant them, how you will take care of them, if you want to dig them up and replant them, or care for them so that their roots travel deep into the soil.
The choice is up to you. As the farmer you decide what “seeds” or what thoughts are best for you to “harvest.” I recommend you start now and uproot the negative, harmful plants that are infecting your crops, plant fresh new seeds that meld well with your positive, life-giving crops and tend to them every day. This takes time, effort and hard work but the potential benefits far exceed the discomfort of the work involved.
Once you have the good seeds planted and the bad seeds uprooted, you are on your way to very good fortune and happiness. Just remember to pick up the remnants of the bad weeds and throw them away.
There will most likely be some old seeds left in the soil, and they will continue to infect your crops later on down the road but do not worry about that until the time comes. Put good care in tending to your new crops and choose to give them the great majority of your attention every day. When you receive the fruits and nutritional value from their fully-grown limbs, plant new seeds and the cycle repeats. While you work in the garden, you will learn what works and what does not work. Eventually you will fully understand how to detect and kill any bad infectious plants that try to leach onto your good plants. You now have complete control over your garden. Congratulations.
Eventually taking care of your garden (aka Yourself) will become HABIT, and just like the farmer, you will have a full understanding of your garden and things will flourish automatically.
You will soon be amazed with what you are TRULY capable of when only your positive ‘plants’ are growing and spreading.
So there you have it. I hope by now you have a very good understanding of the mind and emotions, and are fired up to take control of your life. Consciously being the driver of your own life is a powerful way to live that will lead you to accomish all of your dreams, even the ones that seem impossible to you now.
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