Identity, Ego and the Shadow

Note to Self:

As soon as I begin to attach to an Identity (other than my true self) I begin to build an Ego. What's an Ego? The ego is an avatar that I have created that seems (to me) worthy of love from others...and an avatar that is also something to be defended... from others. (So, ironically, the connection to others never fully occurs.) I also begin to build the "Shadow", the part of me that is hiding from view, that fears being discovered because it conflicts with the Identity I have chosen and has desires that seem unacceptable. This shadow is partly conscious, but mostly subconscious.


Most of this is ingrained into society at such a deep, ubiquitous level as to make it subconscious.  When we are children, we are asked, "what do you want to be when you grow up?" What will you become?  It's as if what we are isn't enough, we have to choose from a list of activities that will someday define us.  It's not the activity that's the problem, it's our need to define ourselves and our need to define others. The worst examples of hate in our society come from the need to define others...or to rail against their definitions of themselves. Groups are attacked and persecuted by religion, sexuality, nationality, race etc...  and yet as groups we continually seek to define ourselves and separate ourselves from others in order to maintain a sense of identity. (Jews, Muslims, Christians, Gays, Whites, Blacks, Americans, Republicans, Spouse, Preacher etc.. etc..) All the while, these classifications are enhancing separation, and identity.


In fact, we are so attached to our identity, that when life inevitably changes or the identity crumbles or changes in some way it can cause an enormous amount of stress.  Why? because the identity has been falsely associated with existence.. and life itself. So, the unconscious fear underlying it all is the fear of death, this fear of non-existence. Then, when the false self crumbles, as it inevitably does..and will. (It happens, all the time.) A person loses their identity in the form of a job, career or a relationship. This can set off a cascade of stress, anxiety or depression as the psyche struggles to find a new center from the identity that was created. In extreme cases, this can even lead to suicide or violence as the false self struggles to defend itself, or regain it's sense of identity. Although, the suffering is tragic, society (as a whole) doesn't let on... then we would all have to give up our masks.


The false self (Ego) is encouraged by society. Identification (Ego) fuels the economy. In America, people largely define themselves by what they can obtain or where they can go on vacation. Fashions and products exist as ways of defining this ego, this self identity. None of us are immune. On the flip side, spiritual people can even define themselves by how "spiritual" they are. So no matter what it is, as soon as I begin to create an identity and a "rulebook" for what I am, it is then and there that I begin to create a world of stress based on a perceived self identity.


In this world of identity it seems we have created different groups (Christians, Gays, Steel workers, Musicians etc. etc..) that gain meaning, pleasure and joy from their identity, but this also causes suffering as other groups attack each other based on their perceived identity. In truth, they need each other..and so this cycle continues ad infinitum. The fear of non-existence produces the struggle. The truth is, the me I think I am, or might want to be, doesn't actually exist. It is my creation.


So, these are big examples, but each of us also have small personal examples in our own rulebook that only we know.  It's important to be honest, brutally honest with yourself and start to be aware..


Why is this all so insane? Because no one, not one soul on the planet, chose to be most of these things we are. None of us chose to be White, Black, Yellow, Male, Female.. ..most did not even choose to be a certain religion etc.. ..before we got here. So, some things are fundamental to us and others we have chosen, but NONE of them are what WE ARE. (and what are we?) Humans? yes.. but more importantly we are spirits..and we are psyches..which above all, all desire to love and be loved...(and this is universal for every person) and ironically it's this desire that fuels the quest for identification and acceptance in the first place!


So, the ultimate stress reduction is to surrender, and let go of all of this, and to begin to choose Love over fear. Love for yourself, accept of yourself just as you are. Let go of the fear that you (as you are) won't be acceptable to others. It's only from this place that change can truly happen.


That is why relaxing and meditation is SO important and has been so good for me, because it allows me to transcend the EGO (this defense mechanism against the struggle of identity) and to dissolve these false perceptions in the light of the conscious understanding of who I AM, not who I want to become... beyond all of the veils, masks and false identities I might desire to create.


It seems everyone is working through this on some level. It's OK, I think it's why we're here. Remember to Forgive yourself. Love Yourself. Choose Love instead of fear and..  
Just BE.

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Just a personal note: There is nothing new under the sun. I am just attempting to present perspectives here that have helped me. I hope to present it in a clear way based on my experience with anxiety which was a spiritual, psychological and emotional awakening for me. In retrospect of this experience I have been reading as much as I could to come to a deeper and more grounded understanding of this seemingly mystical thing that happened to me (so that I could share it with you). I'm not a doctor or a scientist. Please know this is only my experience. Yours will obviously be different, but since my experience was so similar to others I've talked to, I am hoping this may be helpful or useful to you in some way. It's also a way that I hope to share the love with you. That is my purpose here.


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