Over the past number of years I have run a weekend program simply called, “EGO”. I especially enjoyed leading these weekends as I was personally challenged and enlightened by the topic. One of the reasons that I was drawn to this topic is because I have been accused on occasion of being egotistical. When I was a young man…a very, very long time ago…someone called me an egomaniac. I did not really know what that meant but I was pretty sure it was not a term of endearment. What I have learned over the years is that the ego plays a crucial role in how I see myself, what I believe about myself and how I perceive my personal value. In all the years that I have been working with people one of the most compelling and at times disturbing issues is this struggle with personal value. It is the one issue that profoundly impacts our decision making and ultimately our behavior.
Allow me to explain how ‘ego’ impacts my sense of personal value. The simplest definition that I came up with in regards to ego is that it is, “my consciousness of self.”
My consciousness of self can be very positive and healthy when I utilize it to support my internal self awareness. This self awareness helps me to address the two most important questions that I have of myself…who am I (identity) and what am I here to do (purpose)? As I grapple with these questions I discover that I have spiritual gifts resident in me and that my only real responsibility in this life time is to find appropriate opportunities to express these gifts. As I reflect on my life, I would say that my personal relationships and my professional career have been the two greatest opportunities to express these gifts. What I have also discovered working in personal development is that not many people really know what those gifts are and how to utilize them in the healthiest most impactful ways.
Take a moment and identify what you think your spiritual gifts are?
In Deeper Connections every participant has the opportunity to create a personal contract and purpose statement. This statement is an insight into who you are and what you are here to do. My statement says, I am a courageous, worthy man of faith (a living spirit), inspiring others to experience their true authentic selves through my creativity, intuition and wisdom. It is this statement that I bring into every personal and professional interaction and it becomes the internal measuring stick as to whether I am living according to my true self and my purpose. When I do, I experience the “in the flow lifestyle” that I crave daily and I know that I know that I have value.
My consciousness of self is unhealthy when I have a preoccupation with self. This preoccupation with self consistently focuses on the question, “Do I have value?” Unfortunately, the unhealthy ego answers this question, “No, I am not good enough or I will never measure up; so, I do not have value.”
The unhealthy ego has a great need to resolve this question concerning value. It will manifest itself in two significant ways. For some, the ego will manifest itself as an over inflated ego. The over inflated ego is consumed with a sense of self importance. It includes feelings of pride in one’s superiority over others. It says, ‘I’m better than you and I will prove it.’
The unhealthy ego also manifest itself as an under inflated ego. This expression of ego performs for acceptance and approval. It says, ‘I will make myself acceptable to you.’
In either case the unhealthy ego operates out of my need. My unhealthy ego needs the approval of people; it needs to identify with the objects in my life…my toys, my roles, my gender, my nationality, my religion; it needs to attach itself to what I consider as mine; it needs a sense of external control; it needs to focus on the past and the future rather than the present.
So; to overcome a preoccupation with self, I must connect to a greater more universal, divine consciousness which is connected to my true self or my true essence. To do that, I must let go of my need for approval, identification, attachment and control. I must be willing to stay in the present moment, fully accept the reality of my life as it is and believe that there are forces more understanding and more compassionate in control of my life.
My goal is to overcome this preoccupation with self and the preoccupation with the question, do I have value. I want to declare adamantly that each of us has value without ever having to do one thing to earn it. This is not just a declaration that I am making arbitrarily, it is one that has been made from a place beyond our self consciousness. It comes from that place that transcends ego…universal or God consciousness. Here’s what God has said about us;
“Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…so God created man in his own image; male and female he created them…God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”
Before we ever had opportunity to question our value and begin the long, arduous ego trip of proving that we do, God declared, ‘it is good…you are valuable.’
So; my first step to living from the place of my gift and not my need is simply to believe that I have value; hence, I am a courageous man of faith. In this way my identity is established on my being not my doing.
That, I believe is at least a good place to begin as I seek to overcome my preoccupation with self…my egomania.