In this first of a series of posts on the ego mind, I will briefly introduce you to why humans developed this seemingly negative way of thinking (which often drives destructive ways of acting) and what being ‘in’ and ‘out’ of ego may look like.
The ego has such negative connotations that it may feel uncomfortable to learn that we all have one. Even more uncomfortable when we start to recognise that we are coming from this place. Embracing this knowledge and learning how to be compassionate with ourselves (and others) when in ego, is both a massive self development opportunity and an honour.
The human tribe.
Humans, being descendants of chimps, are wired to need to belong to the group. In human terms, ‘the group’ can mean family, tribe, community, country, religion, etc.
For early man, being part of the group gave a much better chance of survival. The anthropologist, Margaret Mead, once said that ‘the earliest sign of civilisation was the discovery of 15,000-year-old skeleton with a healed femur fracture’. The femur is the longest bone in the leg and takes about 6 weeks to heal, proving that the person was cared for through the healing period and beyond.
Over the millennia humans thrived and became increasingly civilised because we worked together.
The tribal brain.
To ensure survival (of both the individual and species), humans have utilised many chimp characteristics to create natural group mentality. While openness and conscientiousness are wonderful qualities of character, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism can have big draw backs if the individual does not have the means to control them.
- Extraversion can lead to dependence on external feedback as a measure of self-worth.
- Agreeableness can lead to poor boundaries and an inability to speak out and say ‘No’.
- Neuroticism (in its basic chimp principle) enables an individual to stay safe in the group by being highly receptive to perceived threat. In humans, neuroticism can create a host of issues depending on its severity. Fears, phobias, anxiety and frequent emotional changes may occur in those with a higher level of neuroticism.
Negative tribal characteristics = ‘in ego’ or the ego mind.
The negative tribal characteristics are controlled by the primal and emotional parts of the brain (triune brain theory). They primarily ensure survival, but without control, can lead to an unbalanced individual.
Constant or unresolved trauma, (especially in early years), causes the reptilian and emotional brains to become looped. In this case the individual is permanently in fight/flight/freeze, unable to access the more complex human brain. The person is driven by the need for survival, ie. permanently ‘in ego’.
The collective trauma.
Children born to adults who are ‘in ego’ are (generally) raised to be ‘in ego’. Without healing, the pattern continues, producing ever more mentally and emotionally damaged individuals. This can be seen in the breakdown of many parts of society.
Love is the answer.
To be ‘out of ego’ one needs to be operating from the rational brain.
In this state, the individual is –
- Physically and mentally relaxed.
- Aware of their different thoughts and emotions.
- Able to behave appropriately.
- Capable of self-reflection.
- Able to show compassion to self & others and to empathise with others.
Essentially, a person operating ‘out of ego’ can show & feel love.
Feeling loved creates the sense of belonging.
Sadly, we are not taught the essential characteristics of self love, self compassion or self forgiveness from an early age. If only we were learned these things at school, along with mindfulness, meditation and how to understand our internal energy to enable appropriate self regulation, our society would improve significantly.
Working with both flower essences and reflective journalling can help to gently uncover when and why the ego hijacks the show. From this place, we can learn to be self compassionate and forgive ourselves this totally natural way of thinking. In learning to be understanding of and compassionate to others when they are ‘in ego’ we can help them learn to do the same. This is how we can positively change the energy of the world around us.
Book here for a free 15 minute chat with me to find out how flower essences and journalling can positively change your relationship with your ego mind.