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Originally posted as: Stopping Your Ego From Running the Show [August, 2016]
Today I would like to discuss something that some of you will be more than ready for it, while others might hesitate to go there with me. This doesn't make anyone 'better' than the other – this is simply where we are at in our individual journeys and there is nothing good or bad, right or wrong, better or worse about it.
My hope is that if this conversation is new to you, you'll hear it with an open mind before deciding how you might or might not integrate it into your life. On the other hand, if you are already well into understanding and playing with this idea, I hope you will enjoy hearing my thoughts on it and see how what I share supports and perhaps even adds to what you already know.
Now that I've got your curiosity flowing and wondering what this exciting topic is… I hope you're not disappointed to learn that today we are looking at the difference between your ego and your Higher Self. Specifically I'd like to share why you need to know about these two different parts of who you are, how they influence your behaviour and how you can get them working like the team they are meant to be.
This is an important topic to be aware of because left unchecked your ego will try to run things which is a problem, because it's better equipped to ruin things than to run them when working on its own. You're likely familiar with people who allow their ego to run the show, as well as those who have really big inflated egos – often it's the same person!
These people are hard to be around, because they are constantly trying to build themselves up at the expense of other people. They take credit for things that don't belong to them, refuse to take responsibility for their mistakes and really don't care who they step on to get where they are going. They believe the world owes them something and they are determined to collect. They tend to buy-in to scarcity thinking – the idea that there is not enough to go around…so they are afraid that if they someone else excels in life, there will be less for them.
Thankfully most people aren't ego-maniacs. They have enough social awareness and empathy for others to recognize that living as if the world revolves around them and them alone can result in a very lonely existence. So they learn instead to refrain from bragging all the time or forcing their opinions. Perhaps they even figure out how to accept responsibility for their own actions and buy into the notion that hard work pays off, so keep your nose out of other people's business, work hard and you'll be fine.
Despite this, they often still find themselves believing in scarcity rather than abundance, or feeling others are sometimes to blame for their difficult situation. They react strongly when they are hurt and might experience jealousy when someone around them does well for themselves.
On the flip side of this thinking you might also find the person who believes they aren't good enough – certainly aren't worth talking about much less bragging on – and refuses to stand up for themselves because to do so could illustrate to others how unworthy they are. When this happens the ego is still running the show – only it's bought into victim thinking.
If you want to lead a vibrant and powerful life, you must become aware of the different aspects affecting who you are and know how you can plug in to that part of you that has your best interest at heart. In other words, if you haven't already, it's time to switch off of autopilot and move more permanently into the realm of conscious living.
Let's meet the ego…
Several years ago I heard Sonia Choquette, a gifted intuitive, speaker and author, talk about the ego as if it was our faithful companion – a loyal pet like a dog - to be loved and enjoyed. “You don’t go home and kick the dog,” I remember her saying, “but you also don’t let the dog run the show.” These few words literally changed my understanding of the ego and my ability to keep it in its place.
Your ego is the human side of you. It feels, fears, gets jealous and reacts. Just like a dog, it might bite when threatened or curl up in dread and pee on your shoe. Left in charge, the dog will run the show the way it thinks the show should be ran. If you've ever had a dog that decided someone shouldn't be in your house when you wanted them to be there (maybe the guy fixing your air conditioning; your new romantic interest; or your sweet, little aunt whose come for a visit), then you know what it's like when a dog uses its own limited perspective to make decisions.
Because the ego is the human side of you – and therefore the part you can feel most easily – it will naturally try to be in charge, unless you teach it otherwise.
Your ego is in charge when someone says something to you and you feel a need to correct them, excuse your behaviour, compete with what they have said or blame someone else. Only the ego will take things personally, become defensive, act overly confident and try to bring others down a notch.
Despite this, your ego is not something you would be better off without. In fact, the ego is what makes you human, so to get rid of it would not be desirable at all!
On the other hand, the Higher Self is the spiritual side of you; it is the soul. If you believe in this idea, it is the part that is connected to all. The Higher Self does not judge, blame, feel or panic. It is not limited to your human body – so it has no fear of getting hurt, dying or even doing things wrong. Every experience is a learning opportunity to the higher self so it doesn't take things personally, or get upset if it's ignored.
Your Higher-Self has access to Divine wisdom – which means you know (or at least have access to) way more information than you think you have. You may have experienced this when you've suddenly had an idea, solved a problem or given an answer to something and then wondered, "How did I know that?"
Of course, this doesn’t mean that your Higher-Self will automatically answer all questions for you – you are here to learn and it will help you do that. It also doesn't mean it will protect you from all challenges in life…sometimes the path you must go down will feel anything but pleasant.
If there is something that needs to happen in your life for you to evolve, the Higher-Self will not help you avoid it. It always has your best interest at heart, but at the time you might not agree with what it labels as best for you.
I find it helpful to keep this in mind and when something happens where I would like to flip into that place of "why me?" or "It's not fair!" To instead remind myself that – as yucky as it might be – it is happening for a reason and the sooner I accept that and start whatever healing needs to happen, the faster I will get past it.
Just because you're Higher-Self is a part of you and it has a connection to the Divine, doesn't mean you are constantly plugged in to it. It can send you messages through your inner wisdom/intuition; but to really guide you it requires your permission and request. Free will is a real thing and it can easily get in the way of you living your best life, if you let it.
Interesting side note that fits in with this…last year was reading a book called Prime Threat; Shattering the Power of Addiction (Joan Peck). This book is about her son who was addicted to drugs and in 2005 (at the age of 36) died of an overdose. What's amazing about the book, is not what she learned while he was alive and she was desperately trying to help him conquer this challenge, but instead, what the son shares through a psychic - Medium (Cheryl Johnson)- after he is gone.
It's a pretty amazing way to learn about addiction so if your life is touched with this hurdle in any way you might want to check out this book, but that aside, the reason I bring this up now, is because of something he shares about our world. He says that it was never expected for the density on earth to be as challenging as it is. The idea of negativity had never really occurred to the collective because that simply didn't exist in their experience.
So, even though life is meant to be an adventure which means there will be ups and downs, challenges and karma to work through, it appears it was never imagined that people would be so fully disconnected from the collective and so strongly pulled by this negativity that they would feel super alone even when deeply loved and experience a sense of emptiness or immense void that they are searching to fill – which is where things like drugs, alcohol and other addictions come in.
Two things came to mind for me when I read this… one, addiction is not a willpower issue as many people believe, but a spiritual crisis of sorts, and two, that the separation between ego and Higher-Self was never meant to be as complete as it is for so many people.
To Sum it Up…
In summary, your ego makes a lot of decisions out of fear – fear of rejection, fear of embarrassment, fear of pain, fear of loneliness…and so on. It lives fully in your human body and as a result has a beginning (birth) and an end (death). Your Higher-Self experiences no fear, always has your best interest at heart, but it needs to be asked to be involved and it's always focused on the bigger picture for you (namely - what you've come here to learn in this lifetime).
Also… and this is important, while the Higher-Self is a beautiful, pure, loving energy…it does not know what it is like to experience life on earth – only the ego really knows what if feels like to live in these dense energies. I remember, one of my clients back when I was working as a counselor at a woman's shelter telling me her husband was so heavenly focused he was no earthly good. I think these wise words fit into what I'm sharing today.
To live a balanced life you need to learn how to get your ego and your Higher-Self working together. Choosing one or the other to do everything will not help you live a full and satisfying life. So keep this in mind as you work your way through this part of your awakening.
How do you reconnect with your Higher-Self?
As I already mentioned, the ego will naturally try to be in charge if it thinks it's the only option. I was surprised many years ago now when I heard a fellow on an internet show say that if I wanted I could simply ask my Higher-Self to be in charge and it would comply. That sounded a bit too simple, but I decided I had nothing to lose and I quickly discovered I actually liked how it made me feel when I did this.
After listening to Sonia, several years later, explain the ego side of this equation, I learned my ego was not the enemy to be silenced and overcome, but an important part of my team that beyond all else was here to protect me. I learned to guide my ego to sit when it flared up because someone hurt my feelings, or threatened me or the people I love in some way, while still appreciating it for its efforts to help.
This has served me well and allowed me to learn how to be more objective; to turn on curiosity where normally stronger feelings like anger or jealousy might have been in control; and even to switch to love and compassion rather than attacking other people with strong harmful emotions. This was much harder to do when I believed my ego was opposition that had to be beaten into submission.
None-the-less, I am definitely still a work in progress – with good moments and bad rather than continual enlightenment. Let me share an experience from my life that really illustrated for me how the ego and HS can work together as well as how we are continually growing – no matter how far we might feel like we have come.
Not too long ago I had a close friend surrender to depression and take her own life. I was devastated. As you can imagine, the pain, confusion, hurt, denial … were all pretty intense. Then anger flared up… I was disappointed in the system for not being able to help her; I was frustrated with the people who I believed weren't as supportive as they could have been with her; I was hurt that she had left me without so much as a good-bye; I was shocked that she left the way she did. There was so much going on for me.
I allowed myself to process some of these feelings, but the moment my ego shifted into a negative zone - blaming, wanting to strike out, holding a pity party - I recognized it for what it was and I would ask my HS to take over.
As soon as I did this I felt myself shift to that familiar place of calm acceptance. I was able to carry on with my work, talk to other people about what had happened and send love and light to others who were grieving her loss.
I processed a lot of feelings and shed many tears, but every time my ego jumped into anger, hurt or blame…I would pull myself out.
On the day of her 'celebration of life' I was in the shower thinking about my friend, feeling the loss and truth be told, kind of dreading the upcoming service - when anger surged through me again. It was so intense, it took my breath away. While I was experiencing it though, the objective part of my mind had a thought, which was – wow I really have to work hard to keep my Higher-Self in charge, this is kind of unusual for me.
Suddenly my inner wisdom piped up, loud and clear… "Grief and loss are human feelings… your ego is the human side of you. The only way you can process these very important feelings is to allow yourself to be in ego."
So it was actually my Higher-Self that kept guiding me back to ego!
Now this might sound obvious to some and a bit too much for others, but for me it was a huge 'aha' moment. Of course, my Higher-Self didn't need to grieve – to it life has no beginning and end – death is nothing but a transition …but my ego very clearly needed time to feel and to work through each feeling as it came up.
Although I still miss my friend dearly, this experience turned out to be a huge gift as well. It helped me to see that part of integrating these two parts of my SELF meant asking my Higher-Self to coach my ego through strong feelings, like grief, and help it to process these emotions without giving way to them and allowing them to dictate my behaviour.
The death of my friend highlighted the next step in my ego-Higher-Self evolution.
Being the Bigger Person
Before I wrap up today by breaking up all I have mentioned into a step-by-step process, there is one more topic I want to touch on. A huge part of our evolution and learning comes to us through our relationships with other people. This is very difficult for the individual ego to deal with which is why it's so often seen as the problem.
Being able to see relationships from a more objective perspective can really help to calm the ego enough to keep it in check, when you are ready to hear it.
You're likely familiar with the idea of being the bigger person. This is when two people aren't seeing eye to eye and rather than continue to fight, one person will decide to lay down their weapon… accept responsibility for their part in the disagreement and open themselves up to hear the other person's side.
This is a tool we often teach as a way to help people understand that emotions feed off one another so if you continue to battle, the only way out is for one side to be severely injured. Laying down your weapon, on the other hand, allows you to stop this escalation and hopefully work through things in a more productive way.
The late, Dr. Stephen Covey referred to this idea in three of his 7 habits of highly successful people (seek first to understand before you are understood; think WIN-WIN; and synergize)
Your relationships with other people are critical to your success in this lifetime. Some people are in your life to push you to grow in very specific ways; others are connected to you so they can mirror things about you that are holding you back – like maybe a pattern, a wound, a limited belief; and still others are in your life to help you work through karma you're carrying around.
They have agreed to help you in this lifetime and you in turn have agreed to help them.
It's not important you identify what your connection with them has been set up to teach, but instead that you accept them despite the pain they might be causing you. To do this, you will have to be the bigger person quite a bit. This means asking your higher self to be in charge so that you can remain open to the learning and put your energy into evolving through what that person has come here to help you discover.
Sounds easy-peasy right? Not really… Just remembering to ask your ego to sit and using positive communication when you are hurting, or someone is pushing your buttons is a huge undertaking never mind all the other stressors in your life that you are dealing with at the moment.
Turns out, for this trip your ego will require a lot of patience, understanding, compassion, acceptance and a willingness to go deep – thankfully higher self can help you with all of that.
If this topic has resonated with you and you feel ready to give it a try, here are some steps for how you might put it into action:
Step 1: Ask your Higher-Self to be in charge and instruct your ego to allow this to happen. This is as simple as thinking or saying aloud: Higher-Self please be in charge; ego please support it in this role (simpler = Ego – sit!). When you tell your ego to sit, it will; however, you might have to remind it more than once like a puppy. Ego is the human side, we are here for a human experience…it will react and forget it's not in charge, especially when you are just learning this.
I suggest you start with unimportant moments – like going grocery shopping; going on walks; having an easy conversation with someone (child, sweetheart, mother). Ask your Higher-Self to be in charge and your ego to be a support. Then as you continue with your task at hand, notice if you slip into judgement, feel friction from something that was said (anger, jealousy, resentment, fear) and, if that happens, re-assert that you want your Higher-Self in charge and ego to sit. This will help you recognize how often you allow ego to be in charge.
In time, work your way up to tougher situations: parent-teacher meetings; difficult conversation with others; asking your boss for a raise…
Step 2: Start noticing the difference in how you feel, how you react to things and how things work out when Higher-Self is in charge. Often it's easier to notice what happens when ego runs the show and then compare that to moments when you instructed Higher-Self to be the boss.
Example: Let's say in the past you've had meetings with your boss or your child's teacher that haven't gone well – you've ended up overreacting; blaming; getting angry which means ego was in charge. You have another meeting coming up, so before you go in, take a few deep breaths and ask your Higher-Self to be in charge. Remind your ego of its supportive role and then go in and rather than control your thoughts – allow things to flow as they come to you (you will be just as surprised by what comes out of your mouth as the other person).
In other words, don't try to sound smart; to catch the other person up in a lie; don't feed your emotional states with negative thoughts – just trust that your Higher-Self will guide you through. This is not easy in the beginning, but once you try it out a few times, I think you'll see that things move in a positive direction pretty quickly and you actually sound smarter and better prepared than you would have if you had armed yourself with information and then put your ego in charge.
Afterward compare how things went – not just the outcome (because the other person could easily have been in ego), but the whole feel of the meeting (if you accidentally allow your ego to flare up, pat yourself on the back for recognizing it and try it again next time).
Step 3: As you become more aware of the differences between how the two feel, start noticing when ego is barking and take charge in the heat of the moment. This takes a bit of practice because once your emotions start to escalate it's much harder to turn them off. Once you get the hang of it you'll be amazed at how much calmer, controlled and connected (or smarter) you feel. At this stage you're starting to notice the difference between conscious living and being on autopilot!
When you find yourself getting ready to bite someone's head off, judging, blaming or maybe you're already yelling at them … take a deep breath, tell your ego to sit and ask your Higher-Self to be in charge. You might find it helps to say to aloud, "Wow, I'm getting pretty riled up about this, give me a moment to calm myself."
Notice how it feels when you switch from the emotional ego to the objective Higher-Self, and make sure you celebrate as this is a huge step in your soul's evolution.
Step 4: After you've got the hang of catching yourself in the act and switching to Higher-Self being in charge and practiced it for a year or so, start asking your Higher-Self to coach your ego when it's dealing with something big. In other words, rather than asking your Higher-Self to take over, ask it to lead your ego and help it deal with the situation. To me this is like training a difficult yet talented apprentice. Thankfully your Higher-Self has oodles of patience… it's only the ego that gets frustrated at how much work it takes.
I've only just begun this exploration myself so I can't tell you much about it, except to say that we process emotions best when we allow them in and embrace them without allowing our thoughts to interfere or cause them to escalate. This is a pretty high level of awareness so it's a starting place if you're just new to tuning into your feelings or asking your ego to sit.
What I've found, however, is at this point I don't seem to need to call in my Higher-Self as much… as she's just always there walking with ego. The two pieces are integrating which ultimately is our goal.
As you play with all of these steps, you’ll find your Higher-Self slipping into the lead role more often and your ego quite happily running by its side. Like the master with a well trained dog, the two make an excellent team and are content when they know their place plus feel loved and appreciated for what they have to offer.
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