Can Your Ego Be Your Friend?

I have often heard the ego being described as some kind of enemy -- the bad guy. Is that necessarily the case?
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Does a good friend call upon you to be your best? Could a caring friend hurt you, without meaning to? Has a friend ever helped you to be more aware of your strengths and qualities?

I have often heard the ego being described as some kind of enemy -- the bad guy who takes us off the straight and narrow path of our enlightenment and feelings of well-being. Is that necessarily the case?

In my last two articles, I have been exploring wealth and value from another perspective: "Wealth: A Broader View" and "Learning to Treasure Yourself."

One part of the mission I work with is:

The appreciation of human value.

In human value I recognize as the magnificent human spirit, soul or divine essence that sustains each one of us. It is the loving presence within us that embraces, without condition, every aspect of our nature.

Appreciation has the meaning both of gratitude, and increase of value. In nature, I see something I call "divine economy." Nothing is wasted. Everything has its place and purpose, including the limiting side of the ego. So what is it?

I view the limiting ego as a tool to educate us, to provide a springboard into our true or deeper self. Most of us do not wish to be miserable. We will spend a lot of money on being happy - clothes, treats, toys, holidays, indulgences of one sort or another. However, maybe we do not have to be spending so much in the way of cash to be enjoying greater health, wealth and happiness. Divine economy.

When I choose a tricky subject to write about (such as ego) -- or, it feels, like "it" chooses me -- I often get the blessing (seems questionable at the time) of experiencing the downside, while I get the opportunity to crawl back to the upside. I now come "hot off the press" as it were.

This week, I began working on a new venture. My mind and emotions got so engaged with the way I thought it should go, that I lost my perspective for a while and my creative enthusiasm died. I felt like giving the whole thing up and forgetting about it. When I was able to release myself from the ego and its attachments, a space opened up in which I could see the project more clearly and take it a few steps further.

With friends who speak of the ego as being the baddie, I notice they have a very healthy ego. That is to say they seem to be enjoying their lives, by and large, and successfully manage their way through their challenges. They also seem to recognize easily the traps of the ego and know to refocus on the joy present for them.

If not a friend, maybe could the ego be a servant? Could it serve us as we observe its patterns to reconnect with our essence, divinity, inner knowingness or human spirit?

The ego is made up of our mind and emotions, thoughts and feelings. These are essential items of our human equipment for getting around in the world. The ego is also linked to our personality, the face we show into the world and helps us to get along.

So where does it all go wrong? The limiting side of the ego is the one that criticizes and condemns; that judges and makes comparisons; that fears and dwells in anger, resentment or blame; that gets attached to the past, guilt and shame; grows dependent upon attention and seeks approval; divides and separates; is possessive, obsessive and addictive and otherwise makes us feel miserable.

On the other hand, the healthy ego is a force for good in the world. The passion, emotion and intention to contribute, to benefit yourself and others; simple living and enjoying the gifts of the present moment; responding spontaneously to needs that show up; cooperating to make things better; being one who is peaceful -- all of these can be recognized as aspects of the spiritual ego, the one that loves, cares and serves.

In the past, when I have been feeling a bit down, I have a good friend I would call. Inevitably she would point out how my ego was getting in my way -- with self-judgments, false expectations, comparisons, wishing things were other than they were. In such times, the ego is my teacher and I am the student. These days, I do not generally call her because as soon as I think of her, I look for where my ego has distorted what is true for me.

The next time you are feeling a bit blue or out of sorts, try this Ego Check:

1. Accept
When you feel out of sorts, acknowledge your feelings. Do not criticize yourself for thinking you should not feel that way. Know that these feelings are not who you truly are. Observe and watch your feelings and thoughts. Be with them. They are not right or wrong. For the moment, let them be. Be tender and gentle with yourself.

2. Let go
Take a few minutes to switch off and do absolutely nothing. Breathe deeply. Forgive any judgments you have made, against yourself or anyone else. Disengage from everything you think is so important. It probably is not. You can return to your tasks when you are feeling more refreshed and at peace with yourself. Chances are when you return, you will complete what you need to do more easily, quickly and effectively and with more joy.

3. Refocus
Invest some time in doing something different that gives you pleasure -- a walk, singing to yourself, reading a good book, cleaning up a cupboard, massaging your feet. Take some time to notice all the good in your life and feel grateful for it. Call a friend and find something to have a good laugh about. Listen to inspiring words from a speaker you admire.

SShaw490's comment from last week inspired me:

I've been a little obsessed with the notion that each of us is entrusted by our Creator with some special, personal gift of God-ness that is deep and wonderful. Maybe someone is gifted with empathy, and just understands and feels what others feel and can uniquely comfort those who mourn; maybe it's generosity, and giving to those who are in need is such a blessing in itself; maybe it's passion, and we find life to be an emotional, creative, joyous thing; maybe it's mystery, and we reveal pieces of ourselves to others in stages, yet we long to be fully open and we hope to be that one day; maybe it's the joy of productivity, and we love the process of just doing those small things that build and build and we find our work multiplying like fields of wheat in the summertime.

We all have a little piece of God inside, and we all have the ability to express it in our own unique way. It's good to be alive.

Finally, from John-Roger in his book, Spiritual Warrior: The Art of Spiritual Living

Once you love the enemy inside, once you embrace it, that enemy will transform and yield its power to you. At that moment, you are sitting on the most wonderful wealth of your existence. The ability to do, the strength to do it, and the energy to complete it; that is the true wealth. Out of that come our health and our happiness.

Does your limiting ego get in your way -- for example: need to be right, or self-doubting or over-critical? In what ways does your healthy ego serve you and others? How do you re-connect with your joy when things do not go the way you want? I would love to hear from you.

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