By Hailey Heil
When communicating with your partner, which part of you is speaking? Is it your true self or your ego? Perhaps you do not think of them differently. The thought that there are different parts of yourself could be a new idea. If you have ever had conflicted feelings, arguments with yourself, or felt like you were watching your life happen from afar, these could be instances of battling between true self and ego.
True Self versus Ego
Deepak Chopra, an expert in alternative medicine, explains ego as self-image, and that it cannot be the true self because it is only what we believe the self to be, rather than what it is. Chopra says ego is how we view ourselves based on the images that are retrieved from the world around us. Our ego can be based upon life experiences, or messages we have received from our family or media. Luckily, there is also the true self- our innate “goodness”. It is built upon love and it is already within us. At times, it may be hard to access, but it is always present. Some call the true self the spirit or the soul.
So if there are these different parts of our self, how is it affecting us? It can be more accessible to distinguish which self is speaking by examining our relationships. What ideas and behaviors are arising in our relationships that can clue us into whether the ego or the true self is running the show?
You can think of the ego and the true self in opposition, they compete for control in relationships. The ego is focused on survival, it wants to protect itself at all costs. It is based in fear, while the true self is based in love.
Some sentiments that align with the ego are resistance, sarcasm, put-downs, withdrawal, aggression, frustration, jealousy, revenge, intolerance, blame, distrust and resentment. These examples may make it clearer to see how the ego comes from a place of fear or uncertainty.
In contrast, our true self utilizes feelings like confidence, compassion, acceptance, intuition, forgiveness, understanding, taking responsibility, learning, trusting, and gratitude. It feels good to help and support others, because these are the traits that are innate within us, like a mother’s love for her child.
“The first half of life is devoted to forming a healthy ego, the second half is going inward and letting go of it.”
But is ego always bad? Not necessarily! In some instances, we need to come from a place of self-preservation. In some cases, the other person is to blame. Rather than only thinking of ego and true self as black and white or good and bad, it can be helpful to be aware of which sentiments come up in which instances. Pay attention to who is speaking, rather than shaming the ego when it comes to visit. This awareness can span into relationships as well. Which interactions and sentiments are ego-driven? When do you feel you are speaking from the heart?
Identifying Ego in Relationships
To understand the roles the ego and true self play in a relationship, it can be useful to think of ego love as codependent, while true love is supportive. If you are experiencing ego love, you may feel a void when alone. You could feel that the attention and affection of others is required in order to feel whole. Ego love could make the idea of losing someone completely terrifying. Based on this fear, ego love often uses manipulation to keep others close.
“Ego not only fears that loving will result in hurt, it also fears that if we love too deeply, too happily, we will abandon the ego-concept (of separation and self-protection) altogether. Ego fears its undoing in love.”
You will know once you are experiencing true love when there is a great deal of respect for each other’s opinions and decisions. A foundation of trust in a true love relationship allows for vulnerability between partners. With vulnerability comes the opportunity to unveil all the parts of yourself, good and bad. True love also fosters growth between partners as they challenge one another to reach their goals.
For the more visual learners, see this video by Penny Phang, Life & Wellness Coach, where she explains more about ego love and true love and intentionally choosing a harmonious relationship.
You may have discovered instances where you are speaking from ego-love, rather than true love, when communicating with your loved ones. So, how does one tame the ego?
The good news is, you are already on the right path! See the following steps below, for some insight into how you can get back to your true self.
- Give yourself an honest evaluation. Self awareness is the first step in managing the ego. Keeping tabs on your behavior will keep you alert to which parts of yourself are coming forward the most. You must first understand that there is an issue, in order to fix it. Taking an earnest look at your behavior is the best place to begin. If self-assessment is tricky, try journaling about past experiences or conflicts and see what comes up.
- Accept that you may be wrong. The ego loves to be in control and always right. If the ego is questioned, it will react defensively, trying it’s best to protect itself. Being open to the idea that you may be wrong, will put pause to defensive reactions. Developing security in ourselves allows us to receive feedback and give ourselves feedback without shutting down. If you’re still working on that security, remind yourself of all your assets and strengths and know these areas you’re working on are one small part of who you truly are. It can also be useful to try seeing different perspectives and sides of an argument before rushing to make judgment.
- Focus on what you are giving as well as what you are receiving. Is there some equality within the relationship in terms of what you are giving and what you are receiving? This could be in terms of uninterrupted time you give to one another, instances of supporting one another, or specific acts of service to help each other out. Be fair to yourself and recognize if there is an imbalance in the amount of effort going into maintaining the relationship.
- Know your value. Consider how you deserve to be treated and if those expectations are being met in reality. It can be easy to get caught up in arguments and responsibilities and lose sight of your standards. Sticking to your relationship ideals may be tough (and it may include moments of loneliness), but it is a self-teaching that reminds of our importance. If you are suffering through a relationship, acknowledge the struggle and consider how beneficial the relationship is to you and your well-being.
With Love and Light,
Learn more about Hailey and how to schedule a session with her now!