Ego vs True Self: Why You Should Put Your Self First

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Let’s take a look at how we put our true selves ahead of our egos to run the show in the pursuit of lasting happiness.

true self vs ego
Be true to yourself

How about we put our deepest self above our egos, personas, and others’ perceptions (all those performing surface layers)? How about we do this? Is that such a crazy idea?

I touched on ego in my article answering ‘How can I find my true self?’. The ego is totally about you and who you think you are. It works to promote and defend you.

You’ve heard of ‘whatever floats your boat’? Well, think of the ego as that part of the boat that’s above the waterline which other ‘seafarers’ see.

The ego is you-centric. It’s what you present to the world.

Look at it this way…

Your ego helps you to navigate your way and operate in modern society — on that waterway in civil life.

Your deepest truest self is about experiencing the sea from a deeper perspective.

How To Tell It’s Your Ego vs true self

EgoTrue Self
AboutAbout “I” & obtaining material gainsAbout we & obtaining universal awareness and wellbeing
The FocusCompetition and comparisonHigher values of love, truth, creativity, collaboration & compassion
Inner FeelingsAgitated, unbalanced, fractured, unloving, unloved, ungratefulPeace, focused, content, humble, grateful, loving, loved, whole and balanced
AngleWhat will people think?I am at peace with myself, others, and the planet.
NeedsNeeds pleasure and distraction to feel fulfilled, not happy with simplified livingIs fulfilled from within; sees life as an experience of one’s consciousness and is content
MechanismDriven by fear. Anxious about letting go of things, or about aging, disease, and deathHas faith. Understands aging, disease, and death are a part of our existence
PositionThere’s not enough to go aroundThere’s enough to go around and I’m happy to help someone get their share

What is the meaning of ego?

According to Cambridge Dictionary, ego is “your idea or opinion of yourself, especially your feeling of your importance and ability”. These represent qualities of being human.

Sigmund Freud’s definition of ego (+ super-ego) in relation to our conscious, preconscious and unconscious selves. Image credit: Jordangordanier

According to Freud (1923, p. 5), the ego is “a coherent organization of mental processes”. He talked about the ego yielding ‘mobility’ on one hand and ‘repressions’ on the other.

Moreover, Freud regarded it as “the organized part of the personality structure that includes defensive, perceptual, intellectual-cognitive, and executive functions” (Sigmund Freud – Id, ego, and super-ego – Wikipedia).

Some traditional spiritual beliefs simply view the ego as the false self.

Here, I regard ego as one of the three layers that surround your true Self. If you want to see a diagram depicting this check out my article explaining Self Wilding.

Your ego can be a good servant, but a bad master…

More the knowledge lesser the ego, lesser the knowledge, more the ego.

Albert Einstein

Ego As A Good Servant In A Life of Personal Achievement

This relates to Freud’s philosophy…mobility.

Like a good servant, the ego helps with ‘mobility’ qualities that enable us. For example, in how we rate against others, these qualities help us win at sports.

Used positively, it can help you to develop your potential. For example, it could drive you to compete in sport and help you win that race. So, it can bring you much reward and fulfillment.

Ego As A Bad Master Limiting A Life Of Personal Freedom

This aligns with Freud’s philosophy…repression.

As a bad master, the ego presents ‘repression’ qualities that hold us back. For example, we all know that critical voice in our heads when it comes to fear we might fail, or ’embarrass ourselves’…like, why on Earth would you want to go barefoot in public? In such a case, other people’s perceptions (or our self-imposed ones) come into effect.

So…let loose, the ego can undermine your self-worth and jeopardize your wellbeing.

Comparing yourself with others can feed that monkey on your back, that critical inner voice.

At work and school, and likewise, in sport, relationships, and social life, it can be a challenge not to bow to a dominant ego that drives this self-criticism.

Social media, especially, is a place where egos can be seen dominating.

Putting your authentic self in charge corresponds to Self Wilding, in the journey to develop a robust you. Let’s look at defining and finding inner self.

Defining True Self

What is ‘true self’ in psychology? In psychology, a recent article encapsulates the ‘true self’ as a concept distinct from one’s self, alluding to one’s inner qualities.

Mostly, people see themselves as having this subset of self that is “positive and moral”. 1

True self identifies with higher values of love, truth, creativity, collaboration, and compassion.

This recent psychology research looks at how positive and moral inner qualities are part of the true self. 1

True Self In Self Wilding Terms

The qualities of nature (within) that I preface on this site are about you being who you need to be a robust ‘you’ — a hallmark of Self Wilding.

That is, I define true self as the ‘nature within’ and discovering it, I define as ‘Self Wilding‘.

Finding Inner Self

What are the qualities of your inner nature, the true-self vs the ego?

The following gives some essential differences as my take when one is in command over the other.

What is your intention

To know whether your true self is at work, or it is your ego, check your intentions. Ask yourself these questions…

Do you come from a place that is all about you; about obtaining material gain? Or, are you about others and the greater good? 

Are you spending too much of your focus comparing yourself to others?

Are your inner feelings unsettling you?

What’s Your Angle and How Are You Fulfilled

One difference, fear is a mechanism of ego. While fear is needed to stop you from making risky decisions, it can also create a life of angst and limitation. Faith, in contrast, is a mechanism that enables you to achieve.

True Self Spiritual Healing

Most people have difficulty with the concept of higher consciousness, or the true self, even though all spiritual traditions, both Eastern and Western embody it.

In spiritual terms, the true self is talked about as a state of higher consciousness, where you sense no separation from divine intelligence and thus, suffer no feelings of anxiety or insecurity.

True self is non-self, the awareness that the self is made only of non-self elements. There’s no separation between self and other, and everything is interconnected. Once you are aware of that you are no longer caught in the idea that you are a separate entity.

Thich Nhat Hanh, This is the Buddha’s Love, 2006 interview

Spiritual Meditation

The need for spiritual connection, prayer, connection with the inner self, appears vastly underrated in our culture. We tend to dismiss the importance of spiritual meditation and nature experience.

Prayer, meditation, positive visualization boost serotonin levels and your feelings of well being, relaxed concentration and peace.

Mary Ann Copson

Be Your True Self — Realization

One of my favourite self-realization books is by Shakti Gawain: Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life, which has sold more than six million copies worldwide, available at Amazon — See details (affiliate link).

Many people, however, are in ignorance of their true destinies and are striving for things and situations which do not belong to them, and would only bring failure and dissatisfaction if attained.

Florence Scovel Shinn

The books that first inspired me on the spiritual connection were those by Florence Scovel Shinn. Though written early last century, her messages are timeless.

The affirmations in her four books, The Power of the Spoken Word, Your Word is Your Wand (my original copy is in tatters), The Secret Door to Success and The Game of Life and How to Play It, have given me strength and supported me through life’s difficulties.

You can get these four books at Amazon, they are available together in The Complete Works of Florence Scovel ShinnSee details (affiliate link).

Letting Go Of Ego Is Important for Balance

Everywhere in nature exists balance! Imbalance quickly leads to poor health and disarray in any system.

For instance, in today’s society, we have an imbalance with a disproportionate amount of value given to consumerism. Unwittingly, when indoctrinated this way, our egos point us further in this direction.

For the survival of us and our living quarters (Planet Earth), we would make allowances. We don’t need to compete with the Joneses or spend our entire lives endlessly pursuing the hedonism of a materialistic world. The more we own, the more that owns us.

What this means is that ‘things’ we accumulate to feed our ego, eventually drain our energy and cause us anguish. It’s time for a check-up.

How To Use Your Ego

Regarding competition and comparison, use your ego to excel at goals rather than create anguish. When your ego gets out of hand, take control. You know, when you feel a twinge of jealousy, greed, or other intrinsic traits that bring you anguish in the long run. Do something to bring about balance.

I have a set of affirmations from Florence Scovel Shinn that are perfect for this. Download them here.

Doing these will help you experience higher levels of awareness and a way of ending subservience to the ego and freeing yourself.

Practices that connect intuition with self awareness will also help you achieve a wonderful balance in life.

Certainly, it takes courage to shift from a self-centered slumber-like mode commanded by the ego to one of higher consciousness. 

But, being fulfilled from a higher consciousness brings new contentment.

We can choose to be fulfilled from within by connecting to our God source or ‘higher intelligence’ or continue on our defeating journey with our ego at the helm.

Visualise a phoenix rising from the ashes or a lotus blooming from out of the muddy waters.

Why not live like an eagle soaring to greater heights with each storm rather than like a wanderer, journeying for endless days on a long dusty route, seeking an oasis, but finding mirages?

References

  1. Strohminger, N., Knobe, J., & Newman, G. (2017). The True Self: A Psychological Concept Distinct From the Self. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 12(4), 551–560. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691616689495

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