E is for Ego

EThe word ‘ego’ has many definitions and even more connotations.  I was going to copy and paste the dictionary definitions, but I fell asleep before I got half-way through, so I made up my own.

Before I tell you what I mean by ‘ego,’ let me tell you what I don’t mean.  I am not talking about the kind of ego that needs protecting because it is susceptible to bruising.  I am not talking about Freud’s ego, which is a sort of middle ground between the Id and the Superego.

Here’s what I am talking about when I talk about ‘ego’:

  • Our ego is hell-bent on survival.


  • and thank god, because without it, we might:
  • It’s the part of us that perceives threats (real or imagined) to either our physical or social survival and reacts out of fear to protect us.


Someone just gave me a dirty look from across the room. They hate me and are turning everyone else against me. Quick, go suck up to them! Or quick, go get in their face! Or quick, go home!

  • It’s a false self with a skewed perspective.


The grass is definitely greener over there.  The only way to get love is to earn it. I only deserve to take up space on this planet if I prove myself.  I need _________ to be happy.  Things are either black or white. I will be happy when…

  • In childhood, our ego learns to judge, categorize and label so we can predict, manage and control.


I’ve decided that Saturdays are the best, that tackle football hurts, that people think I’m cool when I memorize words to songs, and my Enneagram type is the best.

  • It’s the part of our children that, as parents, we try to guide, educate and make really polite.


Eat your vegetables, hold the door for other people, don’t grab the biggest cookie and be nice to the new kid.

  • Our ego perceives us as separate individuals and cannot perceive our connectedness.

I think this, you think that.  I can do whatever I want.  I’m alive.  Someday I’ll die.  The end.

  • And from that perspective of separation, it compares ourselves to others.

She has more facebook friends than me.  I am stronger than him.  Our team hits farther than theirs.  Why do you get the bigger piece?

Things we can do with our ego:

  • Observe it

I’m frantic. I’m beating the crap out of myself.  I feel like yelling at the next person who tries to interrupt me.

Running out of time scares my ego because I haven’t done it perfectly, and it thinks I’m gonna get fired.

  • Align it with our higher self, our higher values, or our conception of a higher power

I would like to do a good job on this project, and I only have two more hours. I’m going to take a deep breath and do the best I can by staying focused and on-task. I will let go of needing the outcome to go a certain way.

Things we can’t do with our ego:

  • Get rid of it.

Cuz we’d die.

The Enneagram makes it infinitely easier to recognize our ego.  Once we know our personality style, we’ve narrowed things down significantly.  We know what to watch for and can more easily see how our ego tries to keep us from what it fears and try to get us what it thinks we need.

What do you think about all that?

14 thoughts on “E is for Ego

  1. What do I think of it? Very cool explanation. I love the images you found. Personally, I like to think of the ego as a protective cage, or what we think is a protective cage, or armor.

    Who we really are, or are capable of being, lies beneath it. Eckhart Tolle calls our true selves “the awareness.” If we all were to become familiar with the awareness that lies beneath the ego, and take action in the present moment based on awareness instead of ego–all problems would be solved.


    • Cathy, I’m right there with you. I actually had this image once of my ego being a bird cage and it was trying to convince me that if I stayed inside the cage, it would protect me and take care of everything. At that point, I could see what it was trying to do and refused to get in with it and had an amazing day that day. Not possible to stay out of that cage 24/7 but well worth it when I get some freedom!
      And yes, responding to the present moment, moment after moment, from awareness, would be a lovely way to live for all, I would imagine.
      Thanks for your thoughts!


    • Rather than overcoming those egos, I think of it as just observing them in action and then aligning them with who we really want to be. Maybe some precious few actually overcome them, but I’ve never met anyone like that!


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  3. Hi there – Yeah, ego is a biggie. Some people are lacking in it. Others think too much of themselves. Gook luck with the rest of the A – Z Challenge. 🙂


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