This post was most recently updated on March 30th, 2020
Wanting a life of personal freedom? Putting your true self in charge of your ego, your personas, and other people’s perceptions of you, allows that freedom. But, when do you know it is your true self vs your ego? The following is a guide to what I’ve discovered.
This is part 2 of my Self Wilding series.
I touched on ego in my article answering ‘how can I find my true self?’. I explain how your ego is totally about you and who you think you are. That is, it works primarily to promote and defend you. It’s that part of your boat above the waterline that other seafarers see.
The ego is all about you (you-centric) that you present to the world.
You can look at it this way…
Your ego helps you to navigate your way and operate in the sea of modern society — on that waterway through civil life.
True self, rather, is about experiencing the sea from a deeper perspective.
Let’s look at ego first…
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.
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’ — as a hallmark of Self Wilding. That is, I define true self as the ‘nature within’ and discovering your true self 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.
Check Your Ego vs True Self
What is your focus and what are you about?
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?
|True Self||Higher values of love, truth, creativity, collaboration & compassion||About we & obtaining universal awareness and wellbeing|
|Ego||Focussed on Competition/Comparison||About “I” & obtaining material gains|
Are your inner feelings unsettling you?
|True Self||Inner feelings: Peace, focused, content, grateful, loving, loved, whole and balanced|
|Ego||Inner feelings: Agitated, unbalanced, fractured, unloving, unloved, ungrateful|
What’s Your Angle and How Are You Fulfilled
|True Self||Angle: I am at peace with myself, others, and the planet.||Is fulfilled from within; sees life as an experience of one’s consciousness and is content|
|Ego||Angle: What will people think?||Needs pleasure and distraction to feel 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||Has faith. Understands aging, disease, and death are a part of our existence||Position: There’s enough to go around and I’m happy to help someone get their share|
|Ego||Driven by fear. Anxious about aging, disease, and death||Position: There’s not enough to go around|
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
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 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 (available at Amazon — See details).
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 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.
Letting Go Of Ego Is Important for Balance
Everywhere in nature is 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 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 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.
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