Taming the Ego as the Worst Enemy of the Soul

"As you grow up, you form a mental image of who you are, based on your personal and cultural conditioning. We may call this phantom self the ego. It consists of mind activity and can only be kept going through constant thinking. The term ego means different things to different people, but when I use it here it means a false self, created by unconscious identification with the mind. [...] Enlightenment means rising above thought. In the enlightened state, you still use your thinking mind when needed, but in a much more focused and effective way than before. You use it mostly for practical purposes, but you are free of the involuntary internal dialogue, and there is inner stillness." - Eckhart Tolle

"Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, your worst enemy already lives inside you: your ego." - Ryan Holiday

"A bad day for the ego is a good day for the soul." - Craig J.

One of the most significant discoveries I've made since I encountered a "divine storm" about half a year ago and started my new spiritual journey is probably the realization that my soul, or my higher self, was totally (and still is partially) controlled by my ego. Now I'm fully aware of the destructive power of the ego that manifests itself in negative, fear-based, thoughts, emotions, and subsequent behaviors. When the "divine storm" hit me, my ego was at the peak of its power, causing havoc for myself and all the people who came in touch with me and eventually putting an end to one important joint private enterprise of mine.

The rage of my ego was fueled by alcohol, which I stopped consuming completely about half a year ago as the first step to tame my ego. Since then I've tried a number of mental and even physical workouts to tame my ego without realizing yet not only that it's as the worst enemy of my soul but also that the target of the war I've started to wage against is my ego. I've come to realize these two things slowly but steadily as I've started to reclaim the "power of now" through some of the new and old but intensified workouts. Now I'm determined to make it my life-long task to tame my ego as the worst enemy of my soul. The very awareness I have now of my ego through my consciousness is a large step forward for my soul.

Craig J. enumerates in his Tame the Ego Before It Tames the Soul the following 12 steps to tame the ego:

  1. Laugh at everything, including your ego.
  2. Catch the ego's destructive thoughts/feelings before they enslave you.
  3. Be grateful every day.
  4. Judge less.
  5. Give more.
  6. Stress less.
  7. Surrender.
  8. Be humble yet courageous.
  9. Confront your addictions.
  10. Live in the moment and meditate every day.
  11. Make daily affirmations.
  12. Live with compassion.

Of these 12 steps the second one seems to me the most powerful and proactive one. The author elaborates on this step as follows, among others:

Thoughts are always banging into our minds all day every day. These thoughts are very powerful, especially when we ponder on them on a deep level. If you notice a fearful or negative thought slip into your consciousness, the best thing to do is shut it down quickly and replace it with a loving or positive one. When we delve into any thought and explore it, we open up a virtual world that can manifest itself into our own reality. Our thoughts are the first step to how we feel, how we act, and possibly a real life outcome may manifest from that tiny little seed of a thought. So be wary of what thoughts are mulling around in your head everyday.

If a thought pops into your mind that you feel is a fearful or negative thought, simply recognise it and replace it with a positive, happy, loving, or playful thought. Do this quickly. If you do not act quickly in replacing this thought, it will give the ego time to embellish the thought, thus turning it into a wild frenzy of anxious, disturbing, and depressing thoughts, thoughts that are all fear based and made up by the master of trickery, the ego. It wants you to believe in things that are simply not true. It is just another way the ego sets out to enslave your soul. It will take a thought and blow it up to ridiculous proportions, trying to make you believe things that are detrimental to your soul's growth and ability to express its infinite love toward yourself and others.

Follow this simple way of diffusing the thought before it grows out of control and affects us.

  1. Recognise the thought.
  2. Say to your ego, "That's a fearful thought and I'm not going to entertain it. Keep it to yourself. I'm in charge of what thoughts I delve into. Not you."
  3. Replace it with a loving/positive thought.
  4. Delve into this loving thought and imagine all kinds of abundance.
  5. Refuse to let the fearful thought infect your mind again.

I've decided not only to adapt this method but even to go one step further or deeper by resuming to apply one of the most powerful tools I've learned in a course I took in Jewish life coaching exactly when the "divine storm" started - replacing not only specific thoughts (and emotions) but only the more fundamental "forces" lying behind them with positive ones. The negative and positive forces I've identified within me are as follows:

  • Negative forces (belonging to my ego): lack of self-confidence, lack of enthusiasm, lack of gratitude, lack of tolerance, lack of respect, and lack of action
  • Positive forces (belonging to my soul): self-confidence, enthusiasm, gratitude, tolerance, lovingkindness, and compassion

I've also started observing how other people behave, through their egos or their souls. Unfortunately but quite expectedly, many people are controlled by their egos. As I wrote above, the first step toward a victory in our souls' incessant struggle with our egos is to become aware that the latter are constantly trying every cunning method to tame the former. Though I haven't fully tamed my ego yet, I've even started to wonder if I can help these people become aware of this very fact so that they may not have to wait for a "divine storm", which in turn will awaken them the hard way through "the dark night of the soul".


Official End of a Short-Lived Private Joint Enterprise

My short-lived private joint enterprise came to its official end this week. It started ultimately about three years ago and officially about one year and a half. Since it started dying about half a year ago, I had enough time to prepare myself for its ultimate death, at least mentally, physically, and especially spiritually, though it's still quite difficult emotionally to digest it as I'm just starting to fully understand the magnitude of my loss.

But fortunately, my gain far exceeds my loss, mainly because I've worked intensively on myself, partly to try to save this enterprise from its demise and partly to try to accept this death. Through this intensive self-work, which was motivated by a course I took in Jewish life coaching here, I've even experienced (and am still experiencing) a kind of spiritual awakening.

I've decided to settle the account, so to speak, of my life by listing in writing the main things I've learned or attained as part of my new spiritual journey from the seeming failure of this enterprise at random order:

  • I've woken up and stopped drinking completely, and I'm continuing to break my personal record of sobriety every day.
  • I've intensified my old mental and physical daily workouts and started some new ones. I have the best version of myself spiritually, mentally, and even physically, if not emotionally yet.
  • I've finally started listening to my soul and decided to align my life to my true, spiritual, life purpose by getting out of my present comfort zone in one important life domain and making a fundamental transformation there. After this rather fateful decision I even feel serenity, probably for the first time in life.
  • I've disconnected myself from those (fortunately few) extremely limiting or disempowering old friends of mine. They belong to the same sociocultural group, which I don't think is a coincidence. I've started to notice some fundamental problems in their dogma and practice and to detox myself from this poisonous dogma I was brainwashed to believe.
  • I've made friends with some empowering people, who all happen to be hasidim. This has kindled my interest in Hasidism as the source of their joy of life. I'm starting to study it systematically, even formally.
  • I've realized that our essence is our soul and what are considered successes in worldly terms are not necessarily successes for our soul; we only use physical bodies as temporary dwellings to maximize our soul lessons and attain our soul purpose.

All these things have also made me realize the tasks I still have to accomplish:

  • Now that I realize that my greatest enemy is my ego, which manifests itself as limiting thoughts, emotions and behaviors, I have and want to tame it and prevent it from continuing to control my life.
  • I have and want to finalize the first stage of a fundamental transformation in the above mentioned one life domain in order to start helping others help themselves for their spiritual self-alignment.
  • I want to attract to this private joint enterprise of mine a new co-entrepreneur who is committed to it and ready not to abandon it even in its most difficult time.
  • Time seems to have come for me to start volunteering to serve the community, for example, by teaching languages I know and joining a support group of those who suffer from alcohol addiction.

Last but not least, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to my (now former) co-entrepreneur for helping me finally wake up and start this spiritual journey. Shkoyekh, E.L.! I also wish you a successful spiritual journey.

PS: I've also benefitted especially from books by the following authors (in alphabetical order) in this new spiritual journey of mine; interestingly, (almost?) all of them are Americans at least by now (and nearly half of them indentify themselves as Jewish in their respective books): Eben Alexander, Martha Beck, Stephan Bodian, Sonia Choquette, Wayne Dyer, Mike Dooley, Arielle Ford, Debbie Ford, Joanna Garzilli, Louise Hay, Shad Helmstetter, Susan Jeffers, Mastin Kipp, Joey Klein, Michael Newton, Tony Robbins, Robert Schwartz, Eckhart Tolle, Brian Weiss, Marianne Williamson, and Anna Yusim.


Accepting and Letting Go of Negative Emotions toward Native Israeli Culture and Society

"What you resists persists. What you embrace dissolves."

"If you don't like a situation, do something to change it. If you can't change it, change your self talk." - Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

This week I witnessed my own outburst of anger for the first time since I stopped drinking alcohol completely about half a year ago. This is the most common of the four possible reactions I used to have - fighting, fleeing, freezing, and fainting - under the influence of alcohol every time I encountered one of the behavioral manifestations, whether verbal or nonverbal, of egoism and/or insensitivity by so many native Israelis, or sabras (for the purpose of these sentences sabras don't include haredim even if they were born in Israel).

I felt terrible (or even terrified) immediately afterwards mainly because I witnessed myself in a sober state letting someone totally insignificant to me control my mind negatively, which in turn triggered my negative behavior - outburst of anger as a kind of fighting.

Since then I started asking myself (and even consulting my psychotherapist in our weekly session) what act of kindness I can take as my reaction to such egoistic and insensitive behaviors so widespread here among sabras instead of any of the above mentioned four negative reactions as act of kindness seems to be the only way to change these people, and, even if not them, myself.

The first logical and healthy step I've decided to take is to accept my negative emotions toward native Israeli culture and society in general and egoistic and insensitive behaviors by many native Israelis in particular, hoping that I will eventually succeed to let go of these negative emotions.

As for the next possible steps, I'll continue to consult my psychotherapist, who has decided to try psychodynamic psychotherapy. I also want to find ways to work on myself by myself so that these egoistic and insensitive people, who will unfortunately never disappear, may not hijack my mind, and subsequently my behaviors as well.


When the Shell of the Soul Cracks Open

"Some of us need a cataclysmic event to find our way toward "the center of our own existence. [...] Betrayal, illness, divorce, the demise of a dream, the loss of a job, the death of a loved one - all of these can function as initiations into deeper life." - Elisabeth Lesser

"Crisis, loss, transformation, and growth all tend to weaken the grip of the social self [= ego - TS], and demand some quick decision making on the part of the essential self [= soul - TS]. Since it can't explain itself logically, the essential self may just throw out a grappling hook and latch on to something or someone that might pull you toward your true path." - Martha Beck

In retrospect I can say now that I started this spiritual journey of mine when I was hit by a serious crisis in one of my important life domains about have a year ago. Then the shell covering my soul cracked open.

In retrospect I can also say now that my drinking and other cognitive-behavioral problems were actually manifestations of a persistent protest of my soul against what I was doing that was not aligned with it.

Once this crisis cracked open my soul, I gradually started to listen to it, until I've decided to follow it by making a couple of fundamental transformations in my life both externally and internally with turtle steps. Each new step I took has made me less fearful of the possible consequences of these ongoing transformations and more courageous to take further, bolder steps, finding myself in a kind positive loop.

I've also started to ask the Universal Intelligence to send me signs to confirm that I'm on the right track. To my surprise and joy, I've started to receive such signs of confirmation I might not have noticed at all in the less awakened state of my soul. The changes resulting from the steps I've taken have started to gain momentum; I've already started to witness those changes I would expect to see in a more distant future.

Though I can't deny that I'm still trying to cope with and get over my ego's fear of uncertainty, the strongest innermost feeling I have now is serenity as I feel deep inside me that my decision of transformations and the subsequent actions are finally aligned with my soul and my true calling in this incarnation of mine. This may even be the first time that I feel such serenity in my life.