Reflecting Self Image
Taming The Ego
For babies, separation is the first cause of true grief. As we age, however, the same individuality becomes a source of exploration and, finally, pride. Each of us is unique, not only in appearance or personality, but in thought as well. In its simplest definition, the ego is the concept of self that acts as a barrier between one's own mind and the world. It is the "I" we understand ourselves to be. The ego is conscious and, in many instances, controls how we think, how we act, and how we perceive reality because it is through the ego that we understand our experiences. In essence, it strives to remind us or even to convince us of our separateness, as well as our uniqueness. The ego can lead us to selfishness, conceit, and isolation, but it can also lift us up to new heights of confidence and self love.
It is often easy to wear our egos as pride, arrogance, or self-importance, and to blame ego for various shortcomings. Given that each person has an ego, however, it's natural to grasp that the ego is neither bad nor good. It helps us remain focused and to achieve a balance between primitive desires and ethical beliefs. It gives us the ability to change and to be flexible, while letting us maintain confidence. By becoming conscious of your own ego and its desires, distractions, compulsions, and fears, you can move away from ego-centered pride and a need to compete. Taming the ego allows you to create upsets, make mistakes, lose, or fail, yet still accept yourself. In the Buddhist tradition, meditation is one path to understanding the ego's motives and methods before taming its impulses. If your ego has become a hindrance, it can be helpful to explore the concept of oneness or selflessness, which can help reconcile overactive feelings of individuality, fear, and isolation.
It is ego that prevents us from seeing the world as a whole by causing us to label and judge each thing we're confronted with. But it also ego that allows us to feel special and to revel in our accomplishments and skills. It may be an integral part of what makes us human. Celebrating that, and the ego itself, is a step toward loving ourselves and the many-faceted individuals all around us.
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