Let’s talk about ego. We all have one, some are just healthier than others (not being facetious here). The majority of self-help/self-development/therapy people talk about quelling or getting rid of the ego all together. Often you’ll here, “don’t operate from your ego,” or “that’s just their ego talking,” or “they have a big ego.” I don’t see it that way. I think we have defined ego as something that is “bad,” “frivolous,” “toxic,” and generally not ideal. But ego is just a thing. We can (re)define it.
The ego can be influenced/manipulated, molded, individually defined, and either malnourished or nourished. I believe we need a nourished and healthy ego. If we eliminated our ego, we would no longer be human. Maybe one day we will evolve to the point where we no longer require an ego because we reside in a different energy form. But, until then, as humans, we have this ego thing.
Some of the wisest teachers and spiritual figures, as well as prolific scholars say that the ego is what makes us human, for without it we are simply in our purest spirit form. As humans we need to align with our spirit, but that is not the form we are in on earth. We are spiritual beings having a human experience, not the other way around. We are here to learn, grow, and evolve. We need to engage our soul, for it is here for a purpose; our soul is our humanity—individually and collectively actualized.
Based on all of this, I believe as long as we are human that it is imperative that we tend to our ego with loving and nurturing care. I believe we have a responsibility to care for and nourish this part of our self; just as we have a responsibility to tend, care for, and nurture our mental, emotional, and physical health and well-being. Our ego is simply how we see, know, and learn about our humanity; individually and collectively.
The ego refers to the unique self individualized from the rest of the world and others. It is influenced by emotions, experiences, relationships, and beliefs – the external experience internalized, as it relates to you. Your feeling of self expressed internally and projected externally. The Ego is influenced by the mind and the mind influences the Ego. We can have a malnourished or nourished ego. Here is how I define that:
Malnourished Ego: Consider this an ego fed with Twinkies and the like. A malnourished ego needs to hear praise from others over and over, for without that praise, the self feels deflated, agitated, and/or worthless. A malnourished ego insults, dehumanizes, degrades, and lacks in praising others, and overpraises the self to others while internally often feeling invalidated. A malnourished ego focuses on self in ways that is void of recognizing the needs and wants of anyone else. It has a difficult time with, or fails to see the strength, beauty, wonderful attributes, and value of others and self. It operates from a place of lack and engages exclusivity. It is difficult or impossible to take feedback or criticism and most feedback is taken as criticism and taken personally. A malnourished ego is preoccupied by and/or fixated on competition and winning; fragile; comes from a space of fear.
Nourished or Light Ego: Consider this an ego fed with kale and the like. A nourished or light ego praises others and self with joy, gratitude, respect, and LOVE*. A nourished or light ego sees its unique gifts and recognizes others unique gifts and talents. It builds both the self and others up; thus allowing an inclusive and greater experience of happiness and being nurtured. A nourished or light ego knows all abundance and gratitude and engages inclusivity. It knows the importance of practicing self-care and self-LOVE for the greater good and encourages others to do the same. A nourished or light ego is very comfortable with the self, unshaken by other’s opinions and also willing to listen (can take feedback and not take criticism personally); not Fragile; comes from a space of LOVE.
Your soul is here to have a unique experience that helps it and “the collective” to learn, grow and evolve. We learn by having an ego because it determines what information we take in and how it applies to our self. I believe when the soul is aligned with a nourished ego we more deeply understand how interconnected everything is and what responsibility we have in that connection. We are able to better understand and conceptualize the human experience and know ourselves more deeply while having this unique soul experience—that has a greater impact on soul and spiritual evolution.
We have to know self to heal self. When we know self and choose to heal self we evolve. As a human, it takes ego to accomplish this. And this is exactly why it is imperative to have a nourished and healthy ego.
Ways to nourish your ego:
- + Choose healthier foods and notice how your body responds. Thank the food before you consume it and notice the energy exchange and relationship you feel with the food. Is food just here to serve you however you want, whenever you want? What do you have to offer food?
- + Spend time within nature and realize how you impact it. Notice the impact that being in nature has on you. What is your relationship with nature? Is it intimate, an acquaintance, or estranged? Do you feel or are you aware of a connection that creates mutual impact?
- + Exercise more. Experiment with what feels the most fun, enjoyable, exhilarating, and fulfilling to you (dancing in your living room, rollerblading/skating, going to the gym, hiking, a mixture of all of these or something else…). Feel and deeply experience how your body and mind feel while you exercise. Let it be personal and just for you; a gift you give your self.
- + Watch inspiring and/or “feel-good” shows/documentaries/movies. Notice how you relate to them. What similarities are happening within what was filmed and in your life? Notice what is applicable to you and what you can appreciate that may not be applicable. Notice if you are comparing and judging or if you are simply consuming what is the best for you and leaving the rest as being meaningful for someone else. If what you watch is scary, violent, upsetting, or the like, it’s most likely not providing nourishment. If it’s not providing nourishment, excuse it from your life.
- + Read or listen to inspiring and/or “feel-good” books (self-help/self-development, memoirs, autobiographies, novels) and become aware of how your body and mind are responding to the information you are taking in. Is the information helping you to experience elevation, depletion, exhaustion, joy, gratitude, frustration, hope, despair, or something else? If it’s not providing nourishment, excuse it from your life.
- + Engage in all sorts of different conversations and notice when you feel at ease, joyful, excited, energized, grateful, and the like. Also notice when you feel agitated, frustrated, depleted, bored, and the like. What part are you playing in how you feel and what part might the other individual(s) be playing? Excuse yourself whenever you feel you need to regroup, recoup, or simply no longer engage.
- + Cheer on others. When you see someone doing something incredible/courageous/wonderful/kind (whether you know them or not), congratulate them; send a message, post a comment, make a phone call, send a text, schedule a date to meet, spread the word. LOVE when you see others “winning” and really feel the joy and happiness that it brings. Do your best to encourage those you see struggling; send a quote, share a story, share a video, share some of your time, let them know you are sending LOVE their way; sometimes the smallest gesture is the most thoughtful one. You ultimately “win” when you take action in speaking words (or doing something) of kindness, compassion, LOVE, respect, and happiness/joy. When we give we receive. Give without expectation. Receive with deep gratitude.
The goal is to give yourself opportunities to get to know your self so-very-well. This is how you better manage and navigate what comes in and out of your life, what you choose to expose your self to, and how you decide to engage and interact with others and your environment. There is a difference between deciphering and judging. A nourished ego will decipher what is “good,” “bad,” “right,” and “wrong” for self while allowing others to do the same for their self. By doing this you get to feel good from the inside out and then share that goodness with everything and everyone around you. This is how you learn to LOVE all aspects of your self without judgement and maintain a respect for being uniquely and wonderfully imperfect, and you recognize this with others. This is how you can become more reliant on self while still able to accept external help, praise, and LOVE with appreciation and gratitude; as well as reciprocate this with others.
A nourished ego is a resilient, luminous, centered, LOVING self.
By Melissa Reese
*LOVE: Luminous, Omniscient, Vital, Energy. A space, place, domain; omnipresent; all knowing; wisdom; kindness; compassion; feeling; experience; void of any and all judgement; void of fear; Divine.