I and Me – Understanding your Ego
In the previous post exploring I and Me we started to look at the agents at play within the human Psyche. We touched on the Ego, now is the time to dig a little deeper.
The Human Ego
Your ego exists within the understory of the forest and penetrates deep through the soil and in to the bed rock; It spans across multiple levels of our psyche all at the same time.
Humans have evolved an egoic mind to aid us to learn and thrive. It is the part of our mind which brings our emotions to life and is essential for forming meaningful long-lasting relationships.
You could regard it as the warehouse and the workhorse of the mind; like a warehouse, you can store and retrieve everything you need to; like a workhorse, it can do all of the heavy lifting for you, but also like a workhorse it has its own mind and it can pull you along without you realising it.
The warehouse is your main processing centre for information. It is the part of your mind where you problem solve. It is the storage centre for your schema; the way you understand the world. Your schema is made up of everything that you have experienced, learned, understood, and realised throughout your entire life.
While the processing centre lives within the forest and the soil, the warehouse storage stretches from the very top of the forest right down in to the bed rock.
When you accept something as a fact or the truth, it is locked in to your schema and stored in the warehouse, the longer ago you did this, the deeper it gets buried. Your warehouse contains six main categories, and it also has someone in charge to help you out.
Let’s now explore each of the six categories further… remember though, these categories are just generalisations and in reality, the neural connections between them are deep and vast.
Memories of past experiences, thoughts, feelings, emotions and attitudes. Recent events are easily accessible within the higher layers of the ego. The older the event or, the more traumatic the event, the further it gets buried down by your egoic mind.
This is a process of self-preservation; your ego tries to protect you from the pain of traumatic memories by hiding them; they are hidden but not forgotten; your ego may still surface the feelings just indirectly.
An example of this is if you were denied love and affection as a child; you may not have a conscious memory of the experience, but it can still manifest itself via the voice of the ego by way of words that make you feel anxious or afraid.
Knowledge of How the World Functions
What is the answer to 2+2? Is the world flat or round? What was that excellent cake recipe you cooked the other week? Who was the first person on the moon?
How the world functions, is your store of all of the information and knowledge you have learned. This is by far the biggest section in the storage library and one that you (when operating as I) will visit frequently to find the answers that you need.
The Foreman – The Workhorse
Every good warehouse needs a good foreman. Your foreman works tirelessly to keep your warehouse clean, tidy, and running smoothly.
Your foreman has been employed since the moment your brain started to form in the womb, that is before you were even born! Working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year; non-stop. Your foreman has been there, seen it, and done it.
Your foreman is the voice of your ego and the warehouse is their entire universe; they know everything that is stored in it and do not appreciate that anything else exists. They think they know everything, and they are not afraid to give you their opinion!
Your definition of Me
From an early age, you will start to form a definition of who you are based upon your first-hand experiences (as I), and the opinions given to you by other people such as your parents, friends and teachers.
This image of me is defined based upon yours, and other people’s perceptions of past events. You write your definition of “me” like a story where you are the lead actor. Not all of your memories make it in to the director’s cut of the story, just the ones that help you tell the story the of me way you want it to be told.
The Scripts for Your Story
Scripts start to form at a very early age. As children we learn by copying what adults do, by listening to what adults say (that includes what they say we are like), by listening to suggestions like ‘always do your best’ and by being told to do or not do certain things.
Our egoic mind looks for repeating patterns in stimuli and our behavioural responses and starts to learn the warning signs that signal one of these repeating patterns is about to start. Once the ego knows the warning signs and the associated pattern or response, it stores them away so that next time it spots the warning signs, it can quickly and easily recall the right script for you to recite.
What a great timesaver! Or so the Ego likes to think!
The Rules for How You Engage with the World
The definitions for good and bad, wrong and right. All of the moral values and social conventions you have been taught to believe in, and the logic behind why they are what you agree with.
Sometimes though, you may have agreed with something simply because it is what were told is “right” by someone you respected like a parent; you have no other logic for it as you have never thought to question it and ask why it is right.
These rules can have a strong connection with the scripts for your story.
Your Definition of What the Perfect Human Looks Like
Produced as a spin-off to the “story of me”, your definition of the perfect human starts to be programmed by your ego from a very early age.
Taught to you by parents, teachers, friends, religion, magazines and social media; it is your own personal definition of everything about the perfect human; how they should look, how they should eat, how much they should exercise, what kind of partner they should have, how many kids they should have, what kind of house they should have, what kind of car they should drive, how they should behave, what god they should pray to… everything.
If we are not aware of our foreman, we will be unable to tell the difference between the spells that are being whispered, and our own conscious mental processes.
We can truly believe that we are operating in a conscious and present manner, but in reality, we are actually being controlled and influenced by our Ego.
This is not an easy process to develop awareness of; but often the harder something is, the more it is worth doing!
Awareness starts very slowly and through experience your it can grow and blossom to empower you to reveal the real authentic you. Living as I in the present moment and absolved of the negative constraints of your ego and your historic definition of me.
In the next post exploring I and Me, we will embark upon this journey of awareness…
Enjoy, for now.