Stone MosaicsIn the spiritual community it is not uncommon for someone to be called out for “being in their ego.” This phrase has its origins in psychotherapy all the way back to Freud and the various parts of the mind. It was necessary, neutral, and like many things in life, only caused negative ramifications when it was out of balance with the other parts and in particular if it wasn’t being monitored or receiving any checks and balances internally or externally.  Of course, psychology, followed by the elite, followed by press, theatre, books, movies and TV all focused on the negative aspects of ego, because drama is fascinating and we all love a good story.  So ego came to have a bad reputation.

We became trained to associate ego with egotistical, with self-centeredness, selfishness and even narcissism. We point to divas, stock brokers, high pressure sales and businessmen, billionaires, celebrities and more and see them as examples of having too much ego. See what happens? The problem is that we don’t look at the opposite, the healthy ego. We don’t see that egos are necessary components of the self. We don’t see egos as the part of us that forms and protects our core identity. We don’t see our ego as what sets appropriate boundaries, helps us make decisions, provides us the means to see what supports us and what hurts us, gives us the ability to choose between interconnection and sacrifice.

Our concept of ego has so devolved that the phrase “being in your ego” has come to have no real meaning except as a put down. It is most often used against women to “put them in their place.” It is used as a means to tear down self-esteem, blur boundaries, cause second guessing and to stop the other from having their voice. If asked, the person saying it will have no real means of defining what “being in your ego” means other than that the person they are saying it to is doing something they don’t like or not doing something they want them to do. Most women have no issue with “being in their ego” to begin with. In fact many have the opposite, they are not in their ego enough to set boundaries, say no, or advocate for themselves in order to develop healthy relationships. So when someone says you need to back up because you’re “being in your ego” or “your ego is showing” or “you need to check your ego” take it as a vote of confidence. It means that your boundaries are working. You’re doing things right and you’re being heard. Give yourself a pat on the back and keep going.