Your true Self is your wild heart in that it is free of your ego, your personas, and your’s other people’s perceptions of yourself. But why have an ego? And, when do you know it is your true Self? The following is my guide bringing it together, and is part of my Self Wilding series.
I wrote 7 Keys to Self Wilding:Freeing Your Inner Self and covered ego and how it’s totally about you and who you think you are. That is, it operates to promote and defend you.
You can look at it this way…
Your ego is an actor and the world is its stage. It helps you to navigate your way and operate in modern society — on that highway through civil life.
Then there is the true Self, which is about experiencing the world from a higher perspective.
Read on for why and how to use your ego to experience a freer, more meaningful life when these are in balance, and you are predominantly led by your true Self.
Defining your Ego
What is the meaning of ego? According to Cambridge Dictionary, it is “your idea or opinion of yourself, especially your feeling of your importance and ability”. These represent qualities of being human.
According to Freud (1923, p. 5) the ego is “a coherent organization of mental processes”1. He talked about the ego yielding ‘mobility’ on one hand and ‘repressions’ on the other.
More over, 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 three layers of self that surround your true Self, as depicted in my article on Self Wilding.
What Qualities Define Ego?
Your ego can be a good servant, but a bad master. I’m not the first to say that.
More the knowledge lesser the ego, lesser the knowledge, more the ego.Albert Einstein
As a good servant, we see ‘mobility’ qualities define the ego and enable us. For example, in how we rate against others, these qualities help us win at sports.
As a bad master, we see ‘repression’ qualities work to 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.
The ego’s purpose is to support you against the rest of the world. It is all about you (you-centric).
Ego is not a dirty word
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.
But then…let loose, it 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 dominate.
Your ego can come from a place of fear. Fear will stop you from making risky decisions. But, continually acting out of fear with a dominant ego, creates a life of anxiety.
3. True Self
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
What does true Self mean?
The ‘nature within’ that I preface on this site refers to the true Self. The qualities of nature (within) that I mention are about you being who you need to be, to be a balanced, happy ‘you’.
In spiritual terms, the true Self is talked about as a state of higher consciousness, where there is no separation from our divine intelligence and thus, we suffer no feelings of anxiety or insecurity.
True Self identifies with higher values of love, truth, creativity, collaboration, and compassion. Recent psychology research looks at how positive and moral inner qualities are part of the true Self 1.
What is True Self in Psychology?
In psychology, a body of research has recently looked at the ‘true Self’ as a concept distinct from the self and relating to qualities of nature within us. Why? Mostly, people see themselves as having this subset of self that is “positive and moral” 1.
The True Self Test
To know whether your true Self is at work, or it is your ego, check your intentions. Are they all about you or more so about the greater good? What are the qualities of nature true-self vs the ego? The following shows a few essential differences that stand out for me.
When all is balanced, you will begin to realize a freer life.
The True Self spirituality connection
Most people have difficulty with the concept of a higher consciousness, or the true Self, even though all spiritual traditions, both Eastern and Western embody it.
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 need for spiritual connection, prayer, connection with the inner self, appears vastly underrated in our culture. We tend to dismiss the importance of meditation and nature experience.
Prayer, meditation, positive visualization boost serotonin levels and your feelings of well being, relaxed concentration and peace. ~Mary Ann Copson.
True Self Realization
One of my favorite 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 (check it out at Amazon).
The books that first inspired me on the spiritual connection have been 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 Shinn — See details.
Balance is Critical
Everywhere in nature, balance is supreme! 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 well-being of us and our living quarters (Planet Earth), we need to edit this. We don’t need to compete with the Joneses or spend our entire life 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 free yourself.
Certainly, it takes courage to shift from a self-centered slumber-like mode commanded by ego to one of higher consciousness.
But, being fulfilled from a higher consciousness brings a 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.
Our awakening is like the mystical phoenix rising from the ashes or a lotus blooming from out of the muddy waters. This awakening occurs when you bring your ego, personas, and perceptions into alignment with your true Self.
We can choose to live like an eagle soaring to greater heights with each storm with our true Self in command. Or, like a wanderer, journeying for endless days on a long dusty route, seeking an oasis, but finding mirages, with the ego in charge. That’s my take! Interested to hear yours too. Feel free to comment below
- 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
- Freud, S. (1923). The Ego and the ID. Free Ebook by www.sigmundfreud.com
- McLeod, S. A. (2016, Feb 05). Id, ego and superego. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/psyche.html
Hi, I’m Mary-Anne. Apart from a PhD in Earth and Life Sciences, I have a whole heap of other life experiences. I am a believer in wellness through wildness. This is about connecting with the nature within and the nature around to keep fit and healthy in body, mind, and spirit. I enjoy researching and writing about natural things that support our wellbeing and then sharing the benefits I discover.