Our ego plays an extremely important role in our life—survival. Its single purpose is to ensure our daily and mortal survival. Unlike what has often been written or said, it can exert a positive, as well as negative impact upon our lives, including the connection between our humanity and Divinity. Understanding its true purpose and potential for good can allow us to fully live and experience the best of what we and life have to offer—humanly and spiritually.
Ego—Our Survival Energy
There has been much written about ego over the years by many intelligent, well-educated and well-intended people. Most of what has been said casts ego in a dark and negative light. It is often presented as the part of us which can only lead us into no good and becoming a lesser, if not worst, version of ourselves. A part that can only lead us toward making bad choices, being with the wrong people and for some in the spiritual community—rejecting God. There is some truth to all of this because whenever our ego energy is imbalanced in its power, flexibility, or vulnerability, bad things and suffering often do occur in our lives. We can think of many examples of unpleasant or destructive things which happen to oneself or others when ego energy is unhealthy.
But surprisingly and ironically all of that is about trying to promote our daily and mortal survival, which most would generally agree is a good thing. Our ego is “trying” to help us survive in ways that often result in some stupid, crazy or dysfunctional ways that we come up with, but it is still about survival. However, there is one important distinction. We—not ego—make the choices in the ways we are surviving and whether we are going to merely exist or fully live. That is where ego’s purpose ends and we begin. And one of the really big choices we must make is seeing the ego energy that is shaping who we are being. You are the real difference between a life of just existing, and often suffering, and one of truly living. And whether you get the best out of what you and life have to offer.
The good news about ego is that it can promote some really healthy survival called living when it is in balance. It can play a role in promoting healthy thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and physiology we can use in our daily life while experiencing a wonderful life journey. Relationships are enhanced, achievement is optimized, minds are enriched, change is understood, failure is conquered, genuine happiness is recognized, stress is eliminated, and conflict is resolved when ego energy is healthy and doing its thing. All of this is happening in our daily lives when we are truly living and healthy ego energy contributes to making this possible.
Beyond the service to our humanity and life which ego can bring forth when it is healthy, there is the impact on our spirituality and Divinity. Spiritual writers and speakers have often castigated ego by describing it as a force that can only work against our spirituality and relationship with God. This can appear to be occurring when our ego energy is imbalanced and people think it is acting with an intention and purpose that it actually doesn’t possess—we do. People with higher ego power may indulge in illusions in which they believe there is no God, there is no need for God in their life, or that they are greater than God. People with lower ego flexibility may embrace extremist religious views which espouse intolerant and rejecting views of “non-believers.” In neither case did ego play a direct role in forming these thoughts. Because ego doesn’t have an intellect, it doesn’t have an intentional capacity, and it doesn’t have an awareness of God. It is the thinker of the above mentioned thoughts, not ego, who owns them and who is opposing God, even though they often don’t realize it. The extremist isn’t serving God, though they often think they are, they are serving themselves!
What ego can “do” when it is healthy and balanced is allow for the doors to our spirituality and Divinity to open wide. So we can become whole within our humanity and Divinity. A wholeness in which illusions of inequality, unworthiness, and separation no longer serve to close doors to our spirituality and Divinity, keeping us confined to the “little picture” of life and ourselves. A wholeness in which we can fully embrace the Gifts of Life, Creating Our Life, Eternal Life and God Within which we have been given. A wholeness in which we are being the Love, Life and Energy—God Is, within our daily life.
Dr. Nickolas Martin is a licensed psychologist who has worked in clinical, university, public school and private practice settings as a therapist, diagnostician, educator and consultant for 35 years. He authored Ego Therapy: A Method for Healing Your Whole Self and co-authored with Rev. Linda M. Martin, EgoSpiritualism: Awakening to Your Human and Divine Self and The Two Voices Within: Balancing the Energies of Ego and Spirit to Enhance Your Life.