When it comes to the “true self”, one fixed point for contemplation is the relationship between your ego your essence. The terms “true self,” “ego,” and “essence” are broad and have many associations attached to them. So, for this week’s newsletter, I’m going to talk about how you can make your ego work for you as a tool to help you fully unearth your true self.
We need to have a working connection with our true self to feel a sense of success and fulfillment. Put another way, it’s only through our connection with our true self that we’re able to feel satisfied by the positive outcomes of our efforts.
Our ego is both an obstacle and an ally. On one hand, if our ego runs a-mock and rules every decision we make, it would be impossible to experience our true self. On the other hand, our ability to fully access and express our true self emerges with the help of our ego.
Personal development work requires that you become aware of your ego and your true self. Further, this work teaches you how to use the many aspects of who you are in a productive way.
There are several common problems that people encounter along their path of personal development. The main problem is that – once we realize that we’ve previously been totally consume by our ego – we forget that we’re actually part of something much greater than ourselves.
As Eva Perakkos says:
- “Even those of you who have, for years, formed a concept of the real self, of the creative substance that enlivens every human being, forget in ninety-five percent of your daily lives that this creative being lives and moves in you and you live and move in it. You forget its existence. You do not reach for its wisdom. You stake all your reliance on your limited outer ego self. You neglect to open yourself for the deeper self’s truth and feelings. You go blithely ahead as though there really were nothing else but your conscious mind, your ego self with its immediately accessible thinking processes and will force.”
If she’s right and we do indeed forget to draw on the infinite richness always ever-present outside ourselves, what can we do to change this? How can we live from our true self more fully? How can we connect to our true self so that we can create richer and fuller lives?
I propose that we look at the ego as if it were a tool. Think of it this way: if I can use a hammer, then it can serve me. If I think I’m a hammer, then I will be used by something else to serve some other end (and most likely hit up against something quite hard in the process.)
The only way that we can stay conscious of our ego is to employ it.
Again Eva Perrakos puts it very well:
- “The ego must know that it is only a servant to the greater being within. Its main function is to deliberately seek contact with the greater self within. It must know its position, it must know that its strength, potentiality, and function is to decide to seek contact, to request help from the greater self, to establish contact permanently with it. Moreover, the ego’s task is to discover the obstructions that lie between it and the greater self. Here, too, its task is limited. The realization always comes from within, from the real self, but it comes as a response to the ego’s wish to comprehend and to change falseness, destructiveness, and error.”
Here’s the catch! If you’re not careful, you can easily fall under the spell of your ego and confuse it with your true self.
You can’t get rid of your ego, and you can’t ignore it either. And if you stop using it to help draw out your true self, you’re likely to fall under its illusion.
So. How can you make your ego work for you? Well. You can draw on the will of your ego to focus yourself on removing obstacles to your true self. You can also work on strengthening the lived experience of your true self so that it becomes less and less of a concept and more and more of an indelible part of your every-day experience.
- “The intellectual acceptance of the real self as a philosophical precept will not alleviate [the problems] because it cannot give a sense of reality and true experience of the real self. This requires more. It requires an actualization of the faculties of the real self.”
What this means is that you’ve got to train your ego to sense and support the expression of your true self. The truth is that you really can feel into your true self. To do this, you need to use your ego to plug into the wants, needs and full expression of your deeper self and remove the obstacles to it along the way. All the while, keep your eye on your ego so that you do not fall under its spell.
Awareness, of all kinds, is not the end of the road. Rather, it’s part of a cycle. Once we have an awareness we need to learn how to apply it, live it, work with it.