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What is the Ego?

Updated on January 29, 2020

A Balanced Breakfast

Have you ever had an Eggo Waffle? The iconic yellow box in the grocery isle jumps out at children’s eye like candy. The word for ‘waffle’ is almost completely synonymous with Kellogg’s brand ' Eggo' as facial tissues now are with the brand that has become a word, Kleenex. I’m not here to talk about marketing or branding, or the ways capitalist consumer culture has changed our use of language, though that would be a fun topic to cover. No, I’m here to discuss the Ego. Much like the fore-mentioned breakfast food, the ego is a well known part of a balanced psyche, but what is the Ego really? When we look at it’s ingredient list what do we find?

In Sigmund Freud's structural model of the psyche, the ego functions as the mediator between the Id, the primitive and instinctual part of the mind, and the super-ego which is a sort-of altruistic model for morality. According to Freud‘s theory the Ego acts as a mediator between these two parts of the mind. The ego’s responsibility is to deal with what is real and what exists in reality.

The Ego is a part of the soul which is engrossed in physical existence. This transitory stage has a very important function which is most closely related to survival. The ego can be disciplined or controlled by the productive use of imagination, honesty, and discipline.

One way to transcend the ego is to look at the internal motivations for our actions. The ego seeks to protect the physical body an that protection can extend into the emotional body as well. The ego and react to situations and it is often these reactions which show that the individual is being motivated by an undisciplined ego.

The ego which is properly directed is a great servant to the individual who has control of it. To consciously see the ego reactions or what they are frames them in a way where you see the reaction for what it is a response which is based on imagined fear which usually results from past experiences of being hurt or not experiencing what was wanted. The ego controlled can be directed by placing awareness of the ego behind the awareness of the true Self. The ego thinks in terms of I and Me the true Self however is not limited and is not controlled by fear as a motivation. The true Self is a knower and this knowing quality can cut right through the ego's limited perspective.


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