Image courtesy of Harvey Bremner

Growing Up and Saying Goodbye to Your Ego

I think we all agree that our lives are a process of learning. When we are born, our first lessons are how to eat, stand, walk. Babies invest intense focus and energy on learning these functions that we soon take for granted.

As soon as they have mastered the basic functions, they begin to explore who they are. Their world becomes all about me, what me likes, what me wants, what me is. The ego begins to emerge as they grow a personality that is shaped by their circumstances and character.

Toddlers, with an abundance of intense energy, oscillate wildly between ego and spirit. One minute they are ego-driven control freaks, the next beautiful cherubs who light our lives with unconditional love.

When they throw tantrums, it is their little egos demanding attention. It is their ego that feels slighted if they don’t get what they want. It is their ego that makes them feel excluded when sent to bed.

A toddler doesn’t understand the bigger picture.

Their perception of the situation is limited by their lack of experience.

Ego comes into force when we feel mistreated, insecure, excluded, does this sound familiar? Don’t we still feel the same as adults? As we grow, shouldn’t learn to control our egos?

Toddlers are just beginning to realize how big the world is; they are beginning to realize their own power to hurt, and their vulnerability to be hurt. With children, insecurity can be overcome with discipline. The intensity of their emotions can be frightening to a toddler, and they need to know that their parents are in control. They may not like it, but they will continue to push buttons until they are secure in the knowledge that the parents are in charge. And when they finally surrender, when they give up the battle of the ego, they find peace.

So we grow up and grow out of tantrums — on the outside — but on the inside our ego still rages. It limits our perception of the situation, and our lack of understanding of the bigger picture still affects how we react.

Our reality is based on our perceptions. One day you feel fantastic, you see many opportunities ahead, your relationship is loving and warm, your worries and fears are easily overcome, and everything is falling into place.

But then the next day it’s all gone wrong, the opportunities seem unrealistic and out of reach, the worries and fears are overwhelming, and it seems like the whole world is working against you.

What changed? Seriously, ask yourself, what changed?

Externally nothing has changed, but internally your ego has altered your perception of what is, and limited your perception of what can be.

To make truly profound changes in our lives we need to reframe our perception of what is and what can be.

We need to identify when the ego is in action, and decide to act from our spirit.

As adults we still swing back and forth between our ego and our spirit selves, and the lesson we have yet to learn is how to recognize and control the ego.

Children have parents to help guide them away from ego driven decisions. As parents we see the signs of arrogance, insecurity, anger or fear and we take steps to address these issues.

As adults we must be the ones to monitor our ego driven perceptions. Was Suzy in the office really being hostile, or had she just received bad news about someone she loves?

You can’t see the big picture.

Are you really being passed over for promotion unfairly, or is your arrogance standing in the way?

Your ego is altering your perception.

As parents we understand that when our children behave badly it is because they feel uncared for, unheard, unworthy, and we do our best to quiet their fears, and since all fear is driven by the ego we appeal to their spirit — through love.

We hold them tight, we make them laugh, we tell them they are loved, they are worthy, they are heard. Yet the kindness we give to our children is rarely offered to our fellow man.

As adults we can nurture compassion for our fellow human beings by seeing the child within.

To view others as a parent would see a child allows us to understand when they are ‘acting out’. As adults we must learn to recognize the ego at work and respond with spirit.

Once you recognize the ego at work you will be able to take a step back from ego driven actions of fear, anger or mistrust. You will be able to silence your ego when it whispers, idiot, fool, clumsy, you laugh too loud, you’re not good enough to be here, or you’re better than all these people, you deserve more than everyone else.

Ego is the over-bloated arrogance that tells us we are better than others.

Ego is also the lack of confidence that stops us from achieving our goals.

When you are self-conscious you are standing on your ego platform. When giving a PowerPoint presentation, product demonstration, or pitching an idea, our ego makes us more concerned about how we look, act, or feel, than what the audience thinks about our product or idea.

From the spirit stance we remove the I and we focus on the it. We deliver the PowerPoint with passion because we believe in the content, we find the courage to overcome a lack of confidence because we believe we have value to offer.

In business you meet all sorts of people, but in my experience startups become successful when the people running them believe in the product or service they are offering.

The ego driven business focuses on the value gained.

The spirit driven business focuses on the value provided.

The business doesn’t have to be a grandiose or glamorous, it doesn’t even have to be the best in its industry, but it does have to have authenticity of purpose.

The ego, like spirit, is always present, and our lesson is to recognize and overcome the limits and obstacles of the ego that block our sense of spirit.

Through spirit we tap into the limitless possibilities that lie ahead, through spirit we find love, friendship and support in unexpected places. Through spirit we find courage when confidence is lacking.

“We’re still growing into that place of higher consciousness; we are becoming a global conscience. The idea is to unravel the onion and let go of the ego and evolve to that place where you perceive everything to be a beautiful experience rather than a daunting experience.” Jon Anderson

This struggle between ego and spirit is the age-old battle of good vs. evil, strong vs. weak, love vs. hate, despair vs. hope. As we release and surrender the thoughts of the ego to God, our spirit emerges, and it is within the release that we find peace.