"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:
- Laugh at everything, including your ego.
- Catch the ego's destructive thoughts/feelings before they enslave you.
- Be grateful every day.
- Judge less.
- Give more.
- Stress less.
- Be humble yet courageous.
- Confront your addictions.
- Live in the moment and meditate every day.
- Make daily affirmations.
- 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.
- Recognise the thought.
- 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."
- Replace it with a loving/positive thought.
- Delve into this loving thought and imagine all kinds of abundance.
- 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".