Ego Development project is starting now. This is a first post.
A few words about EGO:
The ego has been defined in many ways. In the following definitions, we are examining the ego as our identity in the human realm.
- It is who we believe ourselves to be. It is our reference point, and our home in the world.
- The ego is individuality. As our identity, it sets us apart from other people’s identities. To provide our sense of being separate from other people and from the world in general, the ego creates ego boundaries. In that separateness, our ego distinguishes itself as being unique.
- The ego is a center of consciousness. It gives us a perspective from which we perceive the world.
- The ego is an executive. It makes decisions. It implements our will.
- The ego is an organizer. It makes a distinction between the inner world and the outer world, and it notes our perceptions from both. By conceptualizing, labeling, and organizing those perceptions, it tries to make sense of them. It files them in various contexts, where we can make considerations regarding their value, potential threat or benefit.
- The ego is an interface. Just as our physical body is an interface with the physical world, the ego is a non physical interface primarily with the human world of society and individuals. The interface has both an inflow and an outflow:
Outflow The ego is a transformer and interpreter, transmitting ideas from our self into the world in a form that is understandable and appropriate.
Inflow The ego translates incoming information from the human world such that our daily experiences are comprehensible and meaningful and educational.
- The ego is a mediator. It mediates in our inner world. It strives to resolve conflicts among the other parts of the psyche, including the subconscious mind, subpersonalities, and so on.
It mediates between our inner world and the outer world of people and circumstances.
- The ego is a symbol. It is a collection of images and thoughts and conceptual models that represents us to ourselves. As a symbol, the ego associates itself with other symbols such as those of prestige, success, power, and pride. If we value prosperity, we might acquire an expensive car, not because we need it, but because it represents prosperity. The ego seeks fulfillment in the symbolic goods that it acquires, and it seeks immortality through the symbolic goods that it produces. The ego does not experience anything directly. It is in a sterile world of concepts and symbols, and it can only interpret the experiences and input from such sources as the body, the senses, the feelings, the true self and so on.
- The ego is a pattern. It is our continuity. The ego says, “I am this type of person”. This continuity gives the ego a sense of security and stability, but it is an ungrounded sense, because there is actually constant change. The continuity is sustained through various means: Our memories are somewhat constant, because they refer to events that are frozen in history, and because we are unconsciously selective in remembering occurrences that support our concepts about ourselves. Reality actually exists in the constantly changing world of present events.
Our self image is relatively stable, because it is based on static ideas rather than on our ever changing feelings and thoughts. Reality actually exists in our constantly changing world of thoughts and feelings and other personal events.
Our habits suggest, through their repetitiveness, that we are indeed a particular kind of person. Reality actually exists in our constantly changing world of our current actions.
- The ego is a sentry. It analyses situations as threatening or beneficial, largely on the basis of the impact to its images of us, but also to the resources that allow it to operate in the human world. It reacts to insults, damage to its symbols, and challenges to its circumstances and habits, physical or mental. Threats to the body are managed largely by instinct such as the fight-or-flight impulse. If we are being mugged by an armed robber who wants our money, the ego needs to be monitored because its design may contain elements that would cause us to be less concerned with the body’s well-being than with the indignity that is being inflicted, and those elements can lead us to lash out with words or actions that would antagonize the robber and cause him or her to hurt us instead of simply taking our money.
- The ego is composed of particular elements from within every design. We may identify ourselves as a husband and a computer programmer, thus the ego includes elements from what we may call our spouse design and our employee design.
The benefits of a healthy ego
For many people receiving psychotherapy, the task is to strengthen the ego to develop a sense of individuality, independence, self esteem, self respect, personal boundaries, assertiveness, presence, values, separation from parents, conviction of opinions and perspectives, specific tastes and preferences and freedom from contrary inner psychological forces that would dominate the ego. When we have these qualities, we have an ego that can be termed well developed, well defined, or strong.
A well developed ego is beneficial in many ways:
- We can approach people from a position of strength and abundance and vigor, rather than from neediness and emptiness. We can build relationships between two whole people, rather than trying to manipulate the other person into filling our voids. If we have a weak ego, we need to gain the assurance of other people. To gain that assurance, we betray our own identity and we manipulate other people. We can be open and sensitive because our strong ego boundaries protect us against the everyday insults and injustices from other people and from the self condemnation that would be inflicted by ourselves if we had dysfunctional elements in the ego’s design.
We can be unpretentious. Half of humility is knowing what we are not, the other half is knowing what we are. Humility is based on an accurate perception of ourselves, neither inflated nor degraded. A well defined ego is fulfilling and comfortable. A weak ego uses conceit, arrogance, and pomposity to try to compensate for its lack of fulfillment and comfort.
We can be consistent, stable, and trustworthy in our behavior. Our ego is in charge, with its steady repertoire of particular traits. As long as we manage the ego properly, we do not develop conflicting elements that will need to be expressed. We are likewise protected from external influences. We know ourselves, so we are not easily swayed by people who try to persuade us with their opinions. We can endure input from the other parts of the psyche, and from other people. While we are not overcome by the internal and external influences, we can accept the valid input from them. A weak ego necessarily closes itself off, to protect itself. A fully formed ego stays intact when it considers the opposing perspectives of our potential, our true self, and the opposing ideas that are presented by other people. An undeveloped ego has empty spaces such as in a poorly defined relationship with our parents so the other parts of the psyche rush in to fill the spaces. The inner child could fill that void with some repressed anger from our childhood.