Ego. What association do you have with that word? My assumptions are that it automatically makes you feel…defensive. That you’d be put off by someone who had an inflated sense of it and that you’d have to be on guard in the presence of that kind of energy. Ego feels wrong. It feels selfish. It feels untrustworthy, right?
The couple of months or so have been marked by inquiry around this particular subject as it relates to my own sense of self. Particularly, observing the energy I put out unto the world, and observing it’s receipt. In this inquiry, I’ve looked into the proverbial mirror and studied a woman who has spent her entire life comfortably identifying as confident, self-assured, powerful - and comfortably owning that. For the first time, I’ve examined this subject of ego in the scope of this woman and asked some hard questions. Sometimes that question is: Am I an asshole?
What really is this ego, anyway? If we look first at ego through the lens of Freudian theory, the ego is the part of the mind that “mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and cultivating a sense of personal identity.” That actually sounds like a positive thing, doesn’t it? My ego gives me a perception of reality that supports my function as a human being in the physical world. If we shift into study of the ego with a spiritual perspective, the ego is what keeps us aligned with fear, in the belief of separateness from the Divine. This is the ego I that I acknowledge as less powerful or positive, knowing that I can choose love over fear as my guide. But one theme appears common amongst the various associated definitions - the ego is (small) self serving and preserving.
By and large we believe ego to be a bad thing. Generally speaking when something is self-serving it generates a feeling of selfishness or disregard for the wellbeing or care of others. But I think there’s an opportunity to reframe these thoughts, and for an important distinction to be made between ego and ownership of personal power.
The latter is what I have personally always aligned with, as opposed to being what society might typically refer to as an ego-maniac. But recently I’ve had a few experiences that have triggered the questioning of where I land between the two and how that influences my interactions with others.
What is revealed as essential is acknowledging where people are meeting you within their own journey. Someone’s potential aversion to (or attraction to!) whatever you put out, is often a projection or reflection of their own experiences. Their own sense of self and how secure that is, societal conditioning that informs someone’s biases or opinions, and on and on and on. It’s not [always] necessarily about us, specifically. We perhaps just represent a trigger of some kind. Leading with compassion allows us to be mindful as we navigate. Tuning in lets us know by which of the two, ego or confidence, we are going forth from.
Indeed it is my divine right to shine, to stand in my power and to fear not in presenting myself to the world in ownership of that strength, that wisdom, that magnetism and - dare I say - badassery. What I’m starting to get clear on is that how that’s received is all quite relative, really - and checking my energy is proven as crucial here yet again. If my intention is always to use that confidence to create a space that is safe for someone to lean in, to let their guard down knowing they are in the security of a leader who knows she’s got this, whatever this is, then I can claim the value in that all damn day.
So from here we shift our perspective and as a result, our questioning. Ask yourself (myself) not, "am I an asshole" - Ask yourself "am I using my powers for good?" And if the answer is yes, then be unapologetic in the ownership of your might.