Transcending the Ego

transcending the ego

I tend to blog about things that show up as themes. The theme of the week is the idea that we need to transcend the Ego. I am not sure where this idea comes from, but let’s explore that.

Transcend means to move beyond, so transcending the ego means to cleanse yourself of the ego. The reason for this is because the Ego “binds the negative qualities of darkness to the person.” The ego concerns itself with survival and can thus show up as selfishness, control, and playing the victim.

Wow. That’s heavy. No wonder people want to get away from their Ego! Let’s do a reframe, shall we?

Every aspect of yourself is natural. There is nothing to transcend. Even your “darkness” is normal. It’s called the Shadow and it is there to reflect back to us when we are out of balance so that we can move back to balance. The darkness is where mystery, transformation, and discovery lie. It’s where sleep and restoration happens. You could never grow or be healthy without this energy.

It’s true that the Ego is concerned with survival. How lucky we are that some part of you is always keeping you safe! While your Ego may resort to unhealthy strategies like becoming self centered or playing the victim, these aren’t the only choices. The Ego is present from birth, so often young children with no life experience choose maladaptive behaviors because they haven’t yet learned any better. As we grow, we learn, and as Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better.”

I’d like to invite you to consider that the Ego is not something to get rid of, but to develop into a healthy partner.

Signs of a Healthy Ego

You posses childlike innocence. One of the first challenges kids face is to their innocence. They get hit with something – this could be anything from finding out Santa Claus isn’t real to a natural disaster – and they realize life isn’t a safe place. It happens to all of us. The trick is to experience this while keeping your innocence intact. If you’re curious, adventurous, humble, and truthful, you’re probably doing just fine. If you have issues of trust, blaming, denial, or irrational optimism, you have some work to do. This isn’t a failure. We are all growing throughout life.

You can balance independence with interdependence. Some people respond to finding out the world isn’t safe by becoming super responsible. They figure that if they do it all, things will get done and they can’t get let down again. Some respond by becoming dependent. They feel helpless and find a way to get someone else to do things for them. The healthy middle is to be able to care for yourself while accepting help from other and aiding others.

People are social creatures. We need social interaction to stay emotionally well. We can’t produce everything we need on our own, so we also need to share labor and resources to survive. If you can get cynical, engage in complaining, self harm, or hurting others, you can still grow in this area.

You know when and how to fight. Most of our “fighting” is more like advocating, but being able to stand up for yourself and those you love is one of the functions of the Ego too. Some take on the world. Some become pacifists. The healthy Ego chooses the middle path again and knows when to fight and how to fight to preserve connection. It’s hard to be a protector if you can’t stand up for yourself.  If you are overly passive, get easily offended, or get overly aggressive, your Ego is still a work in progress.

You know how to care for others. The healthy Ego isn’t egotistical. It knows the value of others and nurtures relationships without being co-dependent or dominant and controlling. It’s has good boundaries so will say no when no is the more empowering answer. If you use guilt, martyrdom, or enabling to control situations or need the love or admiration of others, your Ego is still growing.

See? Once you know the function of something, you don’t have to fear it. You can use it as it was designed to be used – as a protector.

What About Being Egotistical?

Egotistical means that you’re overly concerned with yourself. As you can see from the description above, this is impossible if you have a healthy Ego because a healthy Ego demands that you balance your relationship with yourself and others. It’s all about balance. Self-love is good. Conceit or arrogance is overkill. Confidence is great, yet not when it means that you give little credit or regard to others. A touch of humility tempers confidence and self- love.

The other thing is, be careful not to play too small. It can be tempting to never ruffle any feathers or not speak up because you don’t want to annoy or offend anyone. You have a right to be seen and heard. Having a healthy Ego doesn’t mean you blend into the woodwork. It just means that you have a sense of yourself as part of the community. We all have different gifts, yet we’re all equally lovely and valuable.

Developing a healthy Ego lays the foundation for the creation of Self and Soul. Without the Ego, there is no container for this. This is why you can see some people who seem to have it all together, then they fall apart over what seems like elementary things. You’ve got to have a strong foundation or everything you build upon it may crumble under the tiniest stress.

So if you’ve been working on transcending the Ego, I invite you to stop. Sink down into self acceptance. That’s a good place to take a rest before doing the real work of just being your highest and best self given where you are today. It is enough.

Using Archetypes to Help Navigate Life’s Journey

archetypes

When you’re on a journey (like life), it helps to know where you are and where you are going. Carl Jung’s archetypes is a great tool for this! Archetypes are unconscious energy that is present in all people. One energy tends to dominate; however, as we move through life, different energies move to the forefront. If you understand these archetypes, you can more easily understand yourself and move more gracefully through life.

Stages of Life’s Journey

There are three stages of life’s journey: preparation, journey, and return. Preparation focuses on the Ego and development of the Innocent, Orphan, Warrior, and Caregiver archetypes. The Journey deals the Soul and development of the Seeker, Destroyer, Creator, and Lover archetypes. The Return targets the energy of the Self and the development of the Ruler, Magician, Fool, and Sage archetypes.

Perhaps because of the work of Freud, many people want to annihilate the Ego. They see it as a bad thing. This isn’t true. The Ego, Soul, and Self are all necessary parts of the whole. The Ego is the container of life. It’s creates the boundary between self, other, and the rest of the world. It is what separates us as beings. The Ego is where we find authenticity, power, and freedom. You can think of this as your foundation. If you don’t have a healthy Ego, it will be hard to know who you are. Your journey through life will feel like it’s being constantly sabotaged by fears. The role of the Ego is to protect the inner child.

The Soul is where the unconscious lies. It is the part of us that holds the potential for everything that could be. The Soul connects us to all that is eternal and provides us with a sense of meaning and value. The Soul’s role is to enter into the mystery. As the Soul does this, we are able to experience self knowledge, intimacy with others, and pave the way for the Self to manifest itself in tangible ways in the material world.

The Self is wholeness, integrity, and authenticity. The work is to find ways to express this in the world. The journey never ends, but spirals. As the Self strives for renewal, it enters back into the journey of the Ego to morph into a new phase of being.

The Ego Archetypes

Innocent

Core Desire: to remain in safety
Fear: Abandonment, punishment for being bad or wrong
Strategy: doing things right, denies problems or seeks to rescue
Weakness: being boring
Strength: trust, optimism, faith
Lesson: fidelity, discernment

Orphan/Regular Guy

Core Desire: regain safety, belonging
Fear: exploitation, to be left out
Strategy: to be down to earth, to have solid virtues, becomes a victim
Weakness: losing oneself to blend in, sacrifices intimacy for superficiality
Strength: empathy, lack of pretense
Lesson: Interdependence, realism

Warrior/Hero

Core Desire: to win, to prove one’s worth through courage
Fear: weakness, losing, vulnerability
Strategy: slay, dominate, confrontation, to be as strong and competent as possible
Weakness: arrogance, always needing another battle to fight
Strength: courage, discipline, competence
Lesson: to fight only for what matters, vulnerability, compassion

Caregiver

Core Desire: to help and protect others
Fear: selfishness, ingratitude
Strategy: doing for others
Weakness: gives until it hurts, manipulation, martyrdom
Strength: compassion, generosity
Lesson: to give without hurting oneself

The Soul Archetypes

Seeker/Explorer

Core Desire: to search for a better life, adventure
Fear: conformity, being trapped, inner emptiness
Strategy: experiencing novelty, flee from problems
Weakness: aimless wandering, becoming a misfit
Strength: autonomy, ambition, being true to one’s soul
Lesson: to be true to a deeper self (spiritual?)

Lover

Core Desire: bliss, intimacy
Fear: loss of love, being alone, being unwanted
Strategy: to become more and more physically and emotionally desirable
Weakness: people pleasing
Strength: passion, commitment, appreciation, gratitude
Lesson: self love, love of Creation

Destroyer/Rebel

Core Desire: metamorphosis
Fear: annihilation
Strategy: disrupt, destroy, shock
Weakness: crossing over to the dark side, crime
Strength: outrageousness, radical freedom
Lesson: humility

Creator/Artist

Core Desire: identity, to create things of enduring value
Fear: inauthenticity, mediocrity
Strategy: develop artistic skill
Weakness: perfectionism, ineffective solutions
Strength: individuality, creativity, imagination
Lesson: enjoy on the process rather than the end goal

The Self Archetypes

*Ruler/King

Core Desire: order, control, creating a strong, prosperous realm
Fear: chaos, being overthrown
Strategy: exercising power,
Weakness: unable to delegate, being authoritarian
Strength: leadership, responsibility
Lesson: utilizing human and other resources in harmonious ways while sharing power

Magician/Healer

Core Desire: transformation
Fear: sorcery, unintended negative consequences
Strategy: develop a vision and live by it, find constructive uses for the problem
Weakness: becoming manipulative
Strength: personal power
Lesson: align oneself with the cosmos; changing the physical by first mastering the emotional, mental and spiritual realms

Sage/Teacher

Core Desire: finding truth
Fear: deception, ignorance
Strategy: seeking information, transform the problem
Weakness: paralysis by analysis
Strength: wisdom, intelligence, skepticism, nonattachment
Lesson: attain enlightenment through detachment

*Fool

Core Desire: enjoyment, being present
Fear: dullness, not feeling alive
Strategy: play, make jokes, be funny,
Weakness: frivolity, wasting time, not serious
Strength: joy, freedom
Lesson: trust in the process, enjoy things for their own sake

I will write about each one of these in depth so be sure to check back for more information on the archetypes.

Note: Some switch the placement of the Ruler and Fool. It makes more sense to me to put the Fool at the end because of the spiral nature of cycles and growth.