Ego is a concept that I believe is very important to consider. What is ego? Ego is your personal sense of “I”, who you think you are and it is formed in an area of the brain that forms “autobiographical memory” – the story of who you think you are.
I’ve heard of many opinions regarding the ego, most of which are dismal. The ego is considered “bad” and something to get rid of by many. I used to wonder about this myself until I realized the role of ego in the “Game of Life”.
Neuroscience really helped to clarify it even further for me. Ego is that part of your perceptual system (Nervous System), that allows you to pretend and via the five senses unconsciously believe that you are separate from everyone else and the surrounding environment.
I say, “pretend” because even quantum physics is now teaching that at a sub-atomic level, everything is connected. There is no such thing as “empty space”. We are swimming in a sea of energy and yet we are like the fish in the ocean that asks “where is the water?” or “what water?”
We cannot sense it with our five senses but we do have more than the physical five senses. Ever heard of something called “intuition”?1
Ego often gets a lot of negative press. The word ego is derived from the Latin word for “I”. The key is not to confuse this “I” with the “True I”, the essence, the being of who you are. Ego is a mental construct of who you think you are and herein lays the problem.
Because our ego forms early in life, when we are operating with plenty of emotion yet lacking in logic, we often create these “Mental Me’ ego stories based on the logic of a 3-year-old. This would explain why to your conscious mind it makes no sense how a subconscious belief that you are not good enough, or a “bad girl”, is still running your life.
When these beliefs of identity are wired into our brain and nervous system, we did not have the mental maturity to use logic in the formation of the stories we created. If the teacher calls little Johnny a bad boy because he talked too much (according to the teacher’s standard), little Johnny cannot reason that the authority figure (the teacher) is having a bad hair day perhaps.
What the adult says about the child is only the adult’s opinion anyway. In reality, the child’s identity is not changed by the words of the adult. In reality, our being is independent of what we do.
You see, what you do, what you think, is NOT the same as who you are at your essence.
I have discovered for myself that as I started to heal the stories of the Mental Me, as I learned how to release the cellular memory of those stories, and even sometimes reframe them, my sense of identity, my self-image dramatically improved. Does this matter? You bet it does.5
Spirituality for me has to be practical or else, it just does not make sense. Yes, I do often live by faith, but there is a difference between faith and believing a paradigm just because you were told to believe it. I’m grateful to be beyond the point in my life where I hang on to “tradition just because”.
If it does not empower me to live a healthy, happy and prosperous life – it just has to go. The ideas have outlived their welcome. There was a time in my life when I used to blame the devil for the drama in my life.
It was a funny thing; I wondered how was it that this devil knew all of my thoughts? How was it that it could “make” me do anything and how was it creating the drama in my life and fear thoughts? Here’s something interesting – spell devil backwards and notice what you get.
Devil is “Lived” spelled backwards. Well, knowing what I know now, I’d say I was living my life backwards all right. In fact I commonly lived with regret and worry all the time. Or, I was unforgiving and bitter about something from my past. I rarely lived in the present moment.
Here’s something else. Notice that “evil” is “live” backwards. I personally don’t see life as “the devil made me do it” anymore at all. In fact, the closest thing I see to some devil is a wounded ego. I don’t believe that the ego is the enemy; it is just that if your thoughts and your sense of self formed in the brain’s area of “autobiographical memory” is full of negative perceptions, you will wire your nervous system with negative self-talk.
Your ego, or “false sense of self” just needs to have its stories re-written, so to speak. These thoughts/beliefs literally get wired into your body at a cellular level. Well, when your negative wounded ego storyteller gets going, you start thinking negative thoughts and acting on them.2
Ego used to be a term that I rarely heard except when someone was referring to arrogance as in “you have a big ego”. It was ambiguous at best. I find it interesting that I can actually now use that term in relation to neuroscience. “How so?” you may ask. Can you keep an open mind?
“In times of change the learners will inherit the earth while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists” ~Eric Hoffer
Ego in Latin is translated “I”. It is the false “I” however, as it is the sense of self that is tied to the area of the brain that forms the “autobiographical memory”, or the story of who you THINK you are.
In my soon to be released book, “Empower Up and Play Big: Winning at Life From the Inside Out!” I refer to it as the “Mental Me”. It is the mental construct of your self-image. I have come to understand that it really is a “false self“, so to speak.
The “real you”, what I call the “Magnificent Me”, is the awareness, the consciousness, the spirit, or what quantum physics refers to as the “observer”. The one that can see the thought, sense the thought apart from the thought. The real you has all types of potential gifts and talents that you have not even begun to develop. Not to get too convoluted here, this is the take home message: YOU are not your thoughts.
Thoughts are things, literally. Thought is energy strictly speaking. What you do with this energy as it flow through your perceptual system will ultimately determine the action you take which will lead you to your life’s destination. Now, if you have created an ego that has a low self-image and low self-esteem, an autobiographical memory that says you are not good enough or whatever, this is what will run your life and cause suffering.
The good news is, the more aware you become of HOW your powerful brain/mind/spirit work together and start to operate your life consciously, the more you will be able to take the misperceptions of your EGO and turn it into Enormous Growth Opportunities.6
Ego is a word that is being discussed more often these days. Ego can mean different things to different people. From a neuroscience standpoint, I define it as formed by the area of our brains that form “autobiographical memory”. It is the story of “who we think we are”. Our sense of identity I call the “Mental Me”.
Who we think we are is a story based on perception and our interpretation of experience that we have as we evolve from childhood throughout our lives. I say perception and interpretation, as it is not what happens to you, as much as it is HOW you interpret the meaning of the events.
Based on the meaning you assign, particularly in early childhood before the age of seven, you start to behave, or shape your personality to help you to feel safe. For example, when I was a young child, due to my position in my family, I often felt unnoticed and “not good enough”.
So I went out of my way to be a “pleaser” personality. Notice within the word personality is “persona” which means, “mask”. When I became a teen-ager, due to my environmental circumstances, I changed my personality to more of an aggressive “warrior” to adapt and feel safe. As adults, we wear many masks based on our environment.
We have a persona for work, for play, for parenting and often for when we are with close friends. This is all fine, however, if you think you ARE these roles and versions of yourself that you present to others, you can start to box yourself into thinking that you are “just the way you are”. Actually, we can consciously choose to adjust these self-defining roles if they limit us by realizing that some parts of our personality were formed by the logic of a three-year-old!3