Shifting from Ego to Self

Transition for Ego-Polarized Identification to Self-Empowerment

By George A. Boyd © 2022

Q: Many people are trapped in their ego. Can they rise above this?

A: You can pursue rising above the ego through several strategies:

  1. Discipline – Using your volition to control your speech and behavior. Overruling the rebellious ego through command and clear direction. Military drill instructors, “boot camp” training, and Reality Therapy adopt this approach.
  2. Empathy and understanding – You reflect back emotions and meaning to the ego. It feels understood and known, and lets go of its rebellion and resistance. After this is repeated over a period of time, it uncovers the Self and its ability to take responsibility and initiate change. Humanistic and Existential therapy employ this method.
  3. Working a program of recovery and reform – In this strategy, you implement a structured program with the ego designed to bring about belief and behavior change. This is utilized in recovery programs modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous. Our structured Dysfunctional Family, Cult, and Addiction Recovery Coaching Programs utilize this methodical, step-by-step format.
  4. Present time process – This type of meditation cultivates Mindfulness or attentional clarity and presence. Once mindfulness has been achieved, the meditator moves on to Vipassana, where attention is held one-pointedly on the present time experience of movement, sensation, deep body awareness, emotions, thoughts, and “I am statements” of the ego. This deep processing leads to a breakthrough experience where attention is lifted out of ego-polarization and discovers the Self and the Voidness of Being.
  5. Analysis of experience – This traces emotions, attitudes, and beliefs back to their origin and uncovers the place where you can make a new choices—about new behavior, values, and reactions to experience—and no longer be frozen in old patterns. Rational emotive behavior therapy, Psychoanalytic therapies, and Process Meditation work to uncover the emotional and cognitive impressions that lock you into egoic identification.
  6. Self-transcendence – This seeks to access a state of consciousness transcendent to the ego. Faith in God, prayer, and meditation are methods that characterize this way of attempting to rise above the ego. Some groups that use these techniques aim to establish identification with an essence in the Superconscious mind—a nucleus of identity, spirit, or ensouling entity—and to detach entirely from the experience of the ego.
  7. Perceptual change – This approach sees the ego inhabiting a series of perceptual platforms, or mindsets, in which the ego holds certain beliefs about the world. When you can extricate your attention from these mindsets, it can shift into operating from the standpoint of the Self, in which you can directly make new choices to change your situation. Coaching commonly applies this perspective to work with individuals, who are seeking to improve their lives.

Narcissism

Narcissism is absorption in the ego. It is immersion in the ego’s desires. It commonly takes the form of a warped attempt to meet survival, safety, love and belongingness, and esteem needs. When you are in this narcissistic frame of reference, you have difficulty recognizing the needs and viewpoints of others, and block any attempt at communication or persuasion that doesn’t conform to your own desires or viewpoint. You may project your own emotions and desires on others, and falsely attribute your own motivations to them.

Some of the core mindsets of narcissism include:

  1. The world and other people only exist to fulfill my desires.
  2. Others must love me and take care of me because I’m special and precious.
  3. Anyone who disagrees with me is evil, deluded, and has no right to exist.
  4. The world and other people are dangerous are evil and dangerous, so I must have weapons to defend myself. If they harm me in any way, I am entitled to destroy them.
  5. Those that support me and are loyal to me receive my support and approval. Those that oppose me are evil, deluded, and have no right to exist, and I will utterly destroy them.
  6. I know better than anyone else. I am a genius, gifted, and highly intelligent. People should only listen to me, because I alone possess the truth and answer to any problem. I am always right and infallible.
  7. Since I am smarter than anyone else, I alone can be entrusted with power. When I am endowed with the power I richly deserve, those who support me will be rewarded; those that oppose me will be punished, imprisoned, or utterly destroyed.
  8. No one is greater than me: all must worship me and faithfully obey my every wish.

On the other side of these layers of narcissistic mindsets, is the breakthrough point. At this deep place in the mind, you transcend the ego. You realize, “I am nothing before Almighty God.” This is a place where you experience complete surrender and self-effacement before God: genuine spirituality becomes possible when you reach this stage of inner realization.

Genuine spirituality does not serve the desires of the ego: it seeks to love, to serve, to heal, to inspire, to uplift, and to empower others to achieve actualization of their personal and spiritual potentials. Once you have transcended these egoic mindsets, you can begin to counter these false narcissistic beliefs. You realize:

  1. The universe and other people do not exist to fulfill your desires. You need to take constructive, intelligent action and get what you desire yourself.
  2. Other people will not necessarily love you and take care of you. You need to love, care for, and nurture yourself.
  3. People have their own perspective and they won’t necessarily agree with you. They have the right to their opinion; you have the right to yours. You acknowledge that as they learn new things and you learn new things, these opinions may change.
  4. There is evil and danger in the world. You need to use good judgment and prudence to avoid getting into situations where you are at risk of fraud, theft, kidnap, rape, or other bodily harm. A protective weapon might be required in your situation, but for most people, this is not required—and many people have no wish to harm you in any way.
  5. Not everyone has to like you or be loyal to you. You can aim to build relationships with a few people of good character and integrity to be your friends and loved ones, and they will provide love and support in your life. Not everyone will be your friend.
  6. You can become knowledgeable about the subjects you study and more proficient at the skills you practice. You don’t know everything. There are many skills at which you are not proficient. In some areas, you may be able to advise, guide and teach others. In other areas, you look to others for advice, guidance, education, and training in their areas of greater expertise.
  7. You have discovered some principles that you recognize as true, but they may not be truths that others can recognize or apply. You don’t have all the answers; you have found the solutions to some problems. You make mistakes. You are by no means, always right or infallible.
  8. Misusing power can intimidate, imprison, or destroy others; rightly used it can uplift and empower others. Wisdom needs to guide the use of power; love and compassion need to temper it. In roles where you are granted leadership over others, it is your duty to serve others and ensure they are treated with dignity, fairness, and justice. You need to hear their concerns, and when it is possible, find solutions for them. You need to promote their education, skill building, employment, and personal actualization.
  9. While each human being has an atom of the Divine within their Soul, he or she is not the Universal Creator. You have an atom of Divinity within, but so does everyone else. You can honor the Divinity within yourself and others, and treat each other with dignity, respect, and love.

The shift from narcissism to self-empowerment looks like:

  • You move from a sense of entitlement to self-empowerment, where you take constructive action to get what you need and want.
  • You get beyond absorption in narcissistic, egoic love and are able to provide self-care and self-love, and are able to love and care for others.
  • You rise above arrogance to have respect for a diversity of options, values, and points of view.
  • You pass through the frightening corridors of paranoia to a realistic appraisal of the world and assessment of danger and risk. You gain the courage to face life in spite of its uncertainty.
  • You jettison your demand for unflagging loyalty and focus instead on living up to your own standards of integrity, and surround yourself with those who demonstrate integrity, trustworthiness, and honor.
  • You let go of your delusional omniscience in which you believe you know it all and make a realistic appraisal of your knowledge and skills, and your strengths and weaknesses. You have a willingness to learn new things.
  • You overcome your urge to control others and use your power to make them obey you and embrace responsibility, duty, and service to others.
  • You abandon your illusions of false omnipotence and demand to be worshipped and feel genuine humility and gratitude.

It is possible to disassemble the network of beliefs that hold these ego-polarized mindsets in place, and shift into the intelligent and empowered perspective of the Self.

In the Mudrashram® system of Integral meditation, we teach a variety of methods in our intermediate classes—the in-person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation and the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program—to help you make this shift form narcissistic, ego polarization to the perspective of the Self. For example:

  • We train you in Centering Techniques (strategy six) to help you recognize and operate from the Self.
  • We teach you methods to work with your Subconscious mind to work with entrenched beliefs and mindsets (strategies five and seven).
  • We show you how to achieve mindfulness and practice Vipassana that enable you to break through into the awareness of your Self and the Voidness of Being (strategy four).

Many people resist correction and change, which only entrenches them more tenaciously in their egoic perspective. It is when the holes begin to appear in their defensive armoring that they can admit they need help, and can begin to adopt modalities or programs that can help them change.

For those who want to change their lives, we offer a structured Life Coaching program (strategy three) to assist them progressively shift into the perspective of the Self and employ its faculties to improve their character and the quality of their lives.

We encourage you to dispassionately examine your own tendencies to narcissism and ego polarization and identify strategies that work for you to rise above these regressive and negative patterns, so you can begin to actualize your personal potentials and express the Soul’s purpose in your life.

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