What the heck is an ego, anyway??

Have you ever wondered what the “ego” really is?

I don’t mean Freud’s id/ego/superego. I’m talking about how common it is for spiritual writings to describe how important it is to move away from the ego and into higher realms, the more expanded places of spirit. This has seemed vague to me—I know it’s not a good thing to be ego-based, to let my ego control me, to live from my ego. But it’s kind of like Timbuktu: it’s out there somewhere (or rather, in here), but where exactly is the ego? And how would I know it if I saw it??

One of my favorite images is of seeing David Hawkins (the author of Power vs. Force and many other provocative and paradigm-changing works) addressing this issue on stage during a lecture. Here was this skinny man in his mid-seventies, walking back and forth on stage, holding a teddy bear. “Here you are, my little ego,” he cooed lovingly. “You are the big trouble-maker, but really you’re just doing the best you can, aren’t you?? [kiss, kiss]”

I suddenly understood. The ego is that part of us that comes from our threatened animal self. It’s who we are when we go contracted, when we pull in, when “something happens” and we shift into our automatic state of response to threat.

Since that moment, I’ve further developed my understanding of this perspective on the ego . If you go download my Inner Map here, you’ll see that any state that exists Below the Line is our ego selves. That means any “negative” emotional state (meaning any state that uses up energy) like mad, sad, or scared is actually the human equivalent of animal threat brain, or Reactive Brain. Since humans create from whatever state we’re in, getting caught in the ego, in Reactive Brain, means that we’re likely to stay in the vortex of whatever vibration we’re in. That’s what the sages have been warning us about, that we go into Reactive Brain and then get stuck there, believing the contracted reality that we’re creating.

I want to take a moment to echo David Hawkins, to send out compassion to every human’s ego/Reactive Brain. We’re all doing the best we can with the brain we were born with, a brain that is designed to instantly protect us from danger. As we begin to love this part of us, we can help it gently remove its grip over us. And the teddy bear can transmute from being a slathering beast into a cuddly companion.


The RIDE (Relationships Ignite Dreams and Empowerment) Program begins 9/28/12. For more information, go here.

7 thoughts on “What the heck is an ego, anyway??”

  1. Nice overview, Julie! Thanks. I think I’ll go over to Grand Rabbits and find myself an ego – well, umm, a teddy bear.

  2. Love your curious mind, Julie! Yep, everything below the line would be ego. And from a Buddhist perspective, even things above the line can be a vehicle for ego, if we hold on to them as our identity. Ego from that viewpoint is anything that we identify as ‘me’- and even an identity of ‘beautiful spiritual being’ can become an obstacle when we attach to it. Just a few cents from a fellow wonderer.

    1. Hello, FW,

      Interesting toss–if I’m identifying with my amazing soulfulness, wouldn’t I still be in a state of fear, or anger, or some emotion that would keep me locked into that identification>

      1. Hi FW with CM (curious mind),
        well, yes, i guess you’re right- underneath some kind of “ME” is fear of some sort- fear of the groundlessness of letting states pass through us without clinging to them as an identity. So if you are just allowing grace, love, compassion, all those above-the-line things to move through you, that would be a no-ego state. But if you are ‘DOING’ those things, or identifying as finally getting somewhere because you are above the line, its a different story, I think. Better to DO the things above the line than below it, of course, but I think that would still be a form of ego. Whaddya think about that?

  3. thanks julie,
    mine usually hangs out at the dark reaches of my closet….always surprises me when she shows up. i will try now to honor her more and pay attention to what she is trying to protect me from. really a threat or not? xo ~ltw~

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