Reassuring My Ego As The Observer


These past few months have been eventful and full of insight and opportunities. I’m grateful over here. I hope you reading this on the other side of the screen are doing well and are content with how things have been going on your end. If not, I wish you ease in this period, and clarity to do what you must to get to a better place.

This post is about the ego and some recent experiences I’ve had with my ego. There are different understandings of the ego – from Western psychological perspectives to more Eastern, ethereal and spiritual ones. Some understandings of the ego conflate the two worlds. I’m not going to dig too much into the different concepts. Instead, I’ll go directly to what this post is about.

In this post, I refer to my ego as the part of my psyche that I can clearly observe and know that is not me. It’s a part of my being that wants to protect me in some ways and protect the identity it has created for me. Grounded on previous experiences and stored information, it has opinions, judgments, preferences and conditions that shape how it would like me to deal with the world.

I tend to often catch my ego in thought when it feels unsafe or threatened. It has made whole scenarios of peoples and places that have no basis in reality. But I understand that it feels in control by mentally attacking others with cynicism and fueling biases. In those moments, it is led by fear. Led by fear, my ego has fought fights in my mind that will never happen in real life. It has had arguments with people it has never met, defending an image that did not ask to be defended.

My ego has (had) opinions and judgments that serve no one. It tends to get anxious when it feels unsafe and unsure of where I stand when it feels alone and attacked. And in those moments it can get a bit ugly, entertaining intrusive thoughts, making up stories in my mind, and fueling narratives about peoples, places and circumstances. (By the way, Eckhart Tolle has an entire book dedicated to exploring the ego, which I highly recommend: A New Earth.)

Every time I catch my ego doing its thing, I acknowledge it with reassurance that it’s not needed. I tell it that all is well in my current reality. And as the observer of my thoughts and feelings, as the one beyond the thoughts the ego entertains and stories it makes and opinions it has, I stand in awareness of what is real and what is being created in my mind. I do my best to treat my ego as kindly as I can because I know that it wants to protect me. It wants to protect the identity it has made out of me, its ideas of me, and its beliefs about the world. And understanding the ways that it goes about wanting to protect me helps me treat it kindly and with respect. Like a child, I tell it with the intention to teach it that there is no need for judgments and opinions rooted in fear. To me, my ego is not my enemy, for it serves a function in my being.

My ego’s latest shenanigans

A few days ago it happened again: my ego was quite problematic. I was standing in line about to order something to eat and a coffee and two guys were standing behind me minding their business and talking about whatever was happening in their reality. I caught my ego thinking how they are probably 23-24, privileged and pretentious, and that they must probably listen to hard, soulless techno… And it was making up a whole fight of all the offensive things I could tell them should they come and fuck with me… Like, what?! How did I go from noticing two guys behind me talking to making up a whole conflict in my mind?

There’s a process that creates mental conflicts which consists of several variables, including but not limited to lived experiences and social tensions. In this particular situation, I have an idea of the underlying issue and how it manifested in my ego being so loud and problematic.

See, the guys standing behind me were what we would socially categorize as “White” and I am “Black”. There are layers to the safety that a “Black” person can feel in spaces with (predominantly) “White” people. While these categories are socially created, their effects tend to be visible in terms of privilege, access, and opportunities. Racism is real, and racialized experiences can affect and distort someone’s perceptions. And as mindful as someone can be, these social phenomena affect our lived experiences as well as our inner reality – such as the degree of safety we can feel in any given space.

This is not to say that I did not feel safe in general, but a part of me felt like it should prepare to protect itself should it experience something like a racialized experience (which actually at a cafe standing in line waiting to order is very unlikely to happen). So a part of me indeed felt threatened and was already making preparations to defend itself. Was it justified? No. Do I understand where it was coming from? Certainly.

While I understand why my ego was going off creating scenarios that weren’t likely to happen, my awareness that it was going off was enough to intervene and kindly calm it down and reassure it that I’d rather use my energy for something else instead of the entertainment of prejudice and separation. Which, on a deeper layer, is based on fear. Because, ultimately, the choice boils down to love or fear. That day, that moment, as soon as I realized that I was entertaining stories made of fear, I decided differently. It felt really empowering.

Ultimately, the choise boils down to love or fear.

I’ve had several moments where I catch my ego creating stories or having opinions and I intervene with kind reassurance. “It’s not needed”, I tend to tell my ego. Or “That’s not kind”. Or I just smile and shake my head as I become conscious.

Like many other experiences, the internal feeling of safety is a feeling that we can foster within ourselves in an autonomous way that is rooted in who we are. It takes time, admittedly, but it’s not impossible to become more conscious of when we’re mentally on our toes and how to consciously and kindly deal with it.

While the ego is not always loud and distinguishable from our awareness, I believe that we can learn to understand it by being more mindful of our inner narrative. I’m not sure if the ego is always the voice talking, but I know that I’m always the one observing and taking action from a place of awareness. While my ego reacts to stimuli, I respond to my inner monologue.

My latest mentally violent experience with my ego inspired me to write a series of kind and reassuring notes for it, which then inspired this post.

And I’m sharing this because these notes can be kind and reassuring for you as well. Let’s treat ourselves and our egos kindly and fill with love where is pained by fear.

Let’s keep choosing love.

Jun 💚

P.S. Please keep in mind that the ego manifests itself in different ways. Today I’m addressing one of the most violent, defensive, protective ways it tends to express itself in my psyche. But it can be very subtle as well. Again, I highly recommend the book A New Earth to dig deeper into this topic.

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