Much is being said these days about self-love, but we cannot truly claim to love ourselves and leave out the ego. Love is always unconditional in essence. If self-love is selective, and singles out part of the self as unwanted, unneeded, and deserving to be gotten rid of, then our self-love is not a true healing, but merely a conditional approval of some parts of ourselves versus others.
The Oxford Dictionary defines the term ego as “a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance”. The ego is our individuality and body consciousness. Many popular spiritual books, courses and teachers have taught us to get rid of the ego, and to see it as something evil and undesirable, creating a problem that needs to be addressed as part of our awakening journey.
From personal experience, I can say that I have never met a single person who has succeeded at getting rid of their ego, but this quest has nonetheless sent millions upon millions of people into a senseless internal battle that they can never win.
It is understandable not to like greed, self-importance, hate, envy, judgmentalness, jealousy, resentment, self-pity, perfectionism, impatience, laziness, fear, control and self-centeredness within ourselves or others. But the question is: where do these so-called defects of character originate? We can not heal something or change it, if we do not understand it. When babies are born into this world, they generally are incredibly loving and open. By the time a child is seven years old, their personality has formed. The family dysfunction and genetic traumas of previous generations have been dumped into their cells, and they carry forth the same emotional burdens as their ancestors.
At the core of western civilization lies a devastating sense of unworthiness from which few are spared. The majority of children grow up feeling unloved, unwanted, ashamed and abandoned, despite the “normal” appearance of their families. Many experience physical and emotional traumas and a fragmenting of the self. In an attempt to survive, and retain as much of our selves intact as possible, we deny and dissociate our memories and emotions, and learn to operate in black and white thinking in fight or flight mode. When we try to maneuver life from such a depleted, deprived, bombed out place, we tend to become very self-centered. Our world now revolves around our safety and comfort, and how we can feel less deprived, inadequate, unimportant and unworthy. Our ego becomes the conglomeration of the rejections we experienced at all different ages.
Most adults, including those on a spiritual journey, never allow themselves to truly heal their wounds. To actually go there, and feel unfelt emotions again, and allow memories to rise back into consciousness. To deal with the devastating effects of our woundedness, and to sit within it for as long as it takes until we are able to pour compassion into the abyss of our anguish. To peal away the layers of survival habits and denial. It’s an easy way out to just want to get rid of all the “bad” parts, and try and kick the ego out so that we don’t have to deal with our traumas and pain, but truly – where would this part of ourselves go? It is one of the spiritual myths that we were all too willing to believe in a bliss-bunny attempt to feel good and be happy. But without any foundation, and at the cost of our authenticity.
When truly reaching into the essence of my ego, or body consciousness as I call it now, I found that it was a deeply hurt part that felt utterly unwanted, unloved and unlovable. With every attempt to rid myself of this part, it locked in more, and became more hurt, and its sense of shame and unworthiness kept growing. It just wanted to be a part of my life, and to be accepted and loved. It was deathly afraid of change, believing that things would only get worse if it permitted the status quo to be altered, and that it would indeed be eliminated and cast into oblivion.
Self-love has to be unconditional, and has to include all parts of ourselves, as we cannot heal through division. Only total acceptance, compassion, understanding and self-love can heal this deep sense of unworthiness and inadequacy that most of us are still feeling within. This cannot happen only at the level of the mind, but must be a cellular change that is felt with every fiber of our being, going down and permeating those wounded, abandoned part of ourselves that went into hiding. They went into hiding in part because of our harshness with ourselves, and how condemning and unloving we actually have been toward ourselves. It turns out that all our emotions are valid, and that they are showing us what needs to be healed, changed or accepted.
A big part of our awakening journey is self-mastery. In the process of becoming whole, alive and authentic, we must learn to trust and believe in ourselves again. And we must allow ourselves to evolve beyond everything that we have learned in the past, and that others projected onto us, and find our own freedom within the veins of our battered and bruised selves. We must embrace everything that we are with utmost love, compassion and acceptance if we are to truly heal and be whole again. A healed and balanced ego is at the center of self-love. God is not out there, but within us, and that is where we will find our Divinity, if we can just for a moment refrain from trying get rid of our unliked parts and creating separation within ourselves.