A lot of my time is spent in conversations. I’m chatting to the Spirit World, often on behalf of others, or discussing life, the Universe and everything with people who call by. A lot of my conversations wander off in all sorts of direction. Yet they always make me consider spirituality.
I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to work out what spirituality means. And how to live it. I’ve had long conversations about religious beliefs, about morals and ethics with deeply thoughtful people. We’ve argued examples back and forth. I’ve read and read and read. Yet it still boils down to something I’ve written about before. I am a spark of Divine Spirit in a human body. That’s my belief. No one else is obliged to agree with me. I have a consciousness that exsists whether I am in a body or not. That’s my understanding because I communicate with other conscious beings who have no apparent physical presence.
That lead me, in the conversations today, to think about that part of our human nature that we call the Ego. Because there is a lot of talk about this particular psychological construct. And often the Ego takes the blame, so to speak, for a wide range of behaviours. I find it really interesting to consider how much the Ego, or as it translates the I Am, seems to be in control of all our thoughts and actions. Yet some people say they reject their Ego. Or have too little Ego. Others point the finger and say there is too much Ego around. Or that a person is all Ego. What do they mean? And can I have an abundance of or a lack of Ego in my life?
Tracking down an answer I thought back to my psychology and counselling training. As a student I discussed theories of personality as I wanted to understand what made us tick.
The modern use of Ego can be traced back to the work of Sigmund Freud. He was a man who very much wanted to understand what made us tick. He described a model of the psyche in which the id is the primitive and instinctual part of the mind that contains sexual and aggressive drives and hidden memories, the super-ego operates as a moral conscience; and the ego is the realistic part that mediates between the desires of the id and the super-ego. So my Ego is the referee between the ‘savage’ part of me and the ethical part. My Ego guides my actions by balancing my basic drives against my need to conform. So I will hopefully make the best choices.
Yet I feel we have taken the Ego much further than perhaps the explanatory model that Freud proposed. The Ego has become a living thing, no pun intended. Because we judge ourselves by how much or little Ego we think our actions represent. And that judgement also gets applied to the actions of others. I guess it’s quite handy to describe someone’s behaviour as being driven by Ego. That means I don’t have to have any conversations that make me uncomfortable. I can put behaviour I don’t like down to Ego being in charge. And carry on exactly as I like. Yet there is another thing to consider. What about this thing we call being spiritual?
I’ve noticed that being spiritual tends to mean giving, giving, giving but never to oneself. The moment I give to myself I may face a chorus of Ego judgements. It’s an interesting sort of double standard.
And it’s really important to unravel this because if I’m trying to live a positive, loving and caring life I need to know how Ego and Spirit interact. There must be a balancing point. I must be able to expect to receive as well as to give. Though that’s not what some religions would have you believe. Of course I’ve had long conversations with my Guides about this. I want to make the most of this life in case I still have to come back and be human again. Taking the best possible actions for the greatest good of all includes my greater good too. And often I know that I am too close to the action to see or understand all of the consequences of what I do.
So I’ve settled on understanding Ego and Spirit in this way. I believe the Ego is a useful survival mechanism. It has evolved to enable us to assess risks and navigate threats. My Ego keeps me safe. It likes me to follow patterns and habits. As far as the Ego is concerned I don’t have to be happy I just have to exist. When change happens my Ego rushes to get me settled back in old patterns as soon as possible. The Ego can survive me being miserable until I want to step out of life. Then it will welcome change. But the Ego will never drive change. Because it is, in itself, a fearful aspect of my human personality.
When I consider the Spirit within me I find a very different energy. I find the source of my hope, my willingness to evolve and an endless unconditional love.
My Spirit is the part of me that connects with a wider Universe, Divine or Source of energy. I experience my Spirit as a force for good in the world. That part which recognises that I am connected to everyone and everything. I share an understanding from my Spirit that to hurt others is to hurt myself. And the reverse, that to love others is to love myself. So my Spirit encourages my freedom to choose. I can embrace the love or the hurt. That is my decision. And my Spirit shows me where my Ego is actually restricting my growth. Or stopping me being in the full flow of unconditional love. My Spirit is the part that lives completely without fear. It rejects the restrictions the Ego is trying to impose.
The conversations between my Ego and my Spirit must be fascinating. The one advocating that fear will keep me safe and the other reminding that love will set me free. It’s taken me a lifetime to learn to love myself. To really set myself free. Most of the time. Because the Ego won’t give up. It wants me back in the box it built for me. My Ego wants to press that self-sabotage button and drag me kicking and screaming back into fear. But I won’t go. Not this time. I have experienced the power of my Spirit. I have seen my Higher Self in her true glory. So I’m determined to honour my highest nature by living as a Spirit first in a human body. The Ego will have to ride along in back. Despite the whispers of the Ego I am a survivor not a victim.
Day 437 of my blogging challenge.