The concept of the ego has been receiving increased attention over the past few years. More and more people are becoming aware of its existence and are recognising the control it has over our behaviour. As one becomes more of a student of psychology, personal growth and development, the ego will invariably be a topic of interest. Do we repress or suppress it?
While the discovery and management of the ego doesn’t get much attention from the mainstream media, the drama of egos clashing is ever-present in the news, movies, reality TV shows, talk shows, soap operas, and more.
Discussions concerning the ego may lead to the conclusion that it is a good thing to have a strong sense of self that the ego provides. On the other hand, it can be argued that an ego that is too strong and controlling will have detrimental effects. It has been said that there needs to be a well-intentioned balance of self (ego) and selflessness for optimum happiness and well-being.
In some cultures and in most religions, the ego is considered to be the cause of human misery and suffering and is something to be overcome. In Western culture, the ego seems to be something to be worshipped as exemplified with our obsession with celebrities and sports figures that have accumulated fame and fortune. Our wanton and excessive materialism is also a symptom of our egotism.
Our society’s emphasis fulfilling the ego’s needs appears to have created a culture of egoists who are unable to compromise with others who have opposing values. This shows up clearly with our divorce rates and the fighting between the political parties.
While the discovery and management of the ego doesn’t get much attention from the mainstream media, the drama of egos clashing is ever-present in the news, movies, reality TV shows, talk shows, soap operas, and more. The conflict that arises from egos fighting over who is right and who is wrong never ends and never will until we are educated and willing to gain control over the instinctual reactive emotions that are sourced by our egos.
The crux of the matter is that most people are not even aware that their ego is in control and they don’t understand that higher levels of awareness is even possible. When we are not aware of our ego we are unconsciously controlled by the emotions that are sourced by it.
Ego-based emotions that are undiscovered and repressed in our subconscious produce physiological reactions within our bodies with the proper stimulation. These can be both positive and negative. We tend to naturally be drawn to life situations that make us feel good and tend to avoid those that cause us to react negatively and feel bad. We are born with most of these emotions that can control us. That which is unconscious has incredible importance in our reactions to our world. It controls way more things in our lives than we may realise.
These repressed ego emotions may even have more power over us than our consciousness awareness. Thankfully, there is hope and we don’t have to be a slave to the ego because when we become aware and bring our ego to the surface it will not have as much power over us. When we bring our ego into our conscious awareness we may not like what we see but at least we can learn to deal with it.
Repression of our ego means that we have no conscious awareness of its existence. It is kept within the subconscious mind, almost always without any conscious willing for it to stop. Once it is in the subconscious it takes no effort to keep it there. The chemical reactions from the sourced emotions create physiological sensations that make us react in very particular ways that are distinct for us.
Repression usually deals with and works on distressing emotions or thoughts. So much so that the mind does not even want to recognise they exist. The mind can even hide these emotions and thoughts from itself. It detaches them and hides them deep in the depths of the subconscious psyche.
Raising our consciousness means that we become aware and learn about our ego. Only then we can then learn to deal with it. We will never get rid of the ego (nor should we) but we can learn to suppress it a bit. Suppression is a conscious choice meant to not indulge or be controlled by a particular thought, feeling, or action.
Typically, suppression is initiated by recognising that we don’t have to be controlled by our feelings or our physiology. When finally realise that these feelings and body sensations are troublesome or maladaptive in some way, we can make a conscious attempt to stop allowing our actions to be controlled by them. Just by the fact that it has been observed and critiqued in the conscious mind, these feelings can be reduced in frequency or intensity,
If some cultures and most religions are correct in believing that the ego is the source of all human misery and suffering, then it would behove us all that get this beast under some sort of control. Learning about how our ego works so that we can suppress it rather than repress it would be the best place to start.
Image credit: Freepik
Scott Trettenero’s book, Master the Mystery of Human Nature: Resolving the Conflict of Opposing Values helps readers learn about themselves.