Rudy was feeling a lot of inner conflict while drooling on his kitchen floor that day we first met him and though not consciously thinking about it, his internal agony led him to temporarily surrender an old friend, his “ego”. This is not the ego of Sigmund Freud, but the ego of New Age spirituality as described in the book A Course in Miracles.
Ego in this sense is “the person I’ve become” as opposed to “the person I am.”
And the person you’ve become is comprised to varying degrees of a collection of beliefs and emotions that you’ve been gleaning from a number of sources as you’ve pushed your psychological cart down the aisles of the supermarket of life. One of your first stops was the fear department.When you were born your psyche was a clean slate and you had only two fears; the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling. Then one day you put your little baby hand on a hot stove, burned yourself and developed a fear of hot stoves. That was a good thing; fear is a primal survival mechanism and our fears of things like hot stoves, wild animals with bared fangs charging us and masked men wielding guns serve us well. But we also learn, usually from sources we consider to be reliable, fears that do not serve us well.
“Stay away from that dog; he might bite you!”
We’re old enough to know by now that getting bitten will in fact hurt and we know that pain is something we want to avoid. So were it a rational fear that Grandma (who was attacked and bitten by a wild dog-like creature with bared fangs as a young girl while living in a homestead on the Great Plains) was trying to instill in us that fear would, in fact, serve us well. But Aunt Flo’s old Golden Retriever who we’ve just met hardly has any teeth left and never in her twelve year existence bared them at anything other than a bowl of Alpo. In fact, the dog would like nothing more than a little hand to gently caress her aching old body. But, thanks to Grandma, you’ve not only been deprived of that tactile pleasure, you will now begin trembling and break into a cold sweat anytime in the future you encounter a dog–too bad for both of you.
How about these?
- “You can’t do that.”
- “Be careful, you might get hurt.”
- “You’re not (insert something you in fact actually are here) enough.”
Fear of failure, fear of risk, fear of rejection–all little ideas planted by often well-meaning people that add one more brick to the skyscraper that will soon be dubbed the “I’m Not Good Enough” building. Sponsored, by the way, by the Low Self Esteem Company.
But wait, there’s more!
- “It’s your fault.”
- “See what you’ve done?”
Those were a couple of Doris’s favorites, remember? Here are some others:
- “Why can’t you be more like (insert name of obnoxiously competent person here)?”
- “What were you thinking?”
- “When are you going to grow up?”
- “You want to be a/an (insert name of typically low paid or snowball’s-chance-in-hell but highly rewarding dream occupation here [i.e. rock star, pro athlete, writer, actress])!? You must be crazy! Look around you, can’t you see all the things you’ve gotten thanks to my career as a (insert name of boring-as-hell, tedious, I’d rather eat horse poop job here [i.e. accountant, salesman, IT guy, toll booth attendant, librarian)?”
Fear of not being good enough, fear of inadequacy, fear of pursuing your own dreams–more bricks for the building, the Ego Development Tower.
When fear grew up and reached adult proportions in our brains it took a spouse.
“Fear, do you take Guilt…?”
“Guilt, do you take Fear…?”
“Then what we have joined together today let no man put asunder; unless of course said man gets sick and tired of the ravages this couple inflict on his psyche, comes to his senses and returns to the sacred state into which he was born. Amen.”
Time to leave this section on Ego Development and move on to our next stop–guilt.
Go To Overcoming Guilt
Return to Find Your “Self”