Is Ego the Enemy?
These days ego seems to get a bad rap, but is it really all bad? What is ego? And why is it important?
Ego is our sense of self, it is how we understand ourselves, it is the identity that we create over the course of our lifetime.
A healthy ego is incredibly important – it protects us, helps us to navigate life, and function within the framework of our society.
Now I’m not saying that confronting existential truths and transcdending ego isn’t an incredible, beautiful, liberating (and challenging!) process – I’m stating that the formation of a healthy ego is an essential prerequisite for this process. Oftentimes societal expectations, cultural norms, family/relationship dynamics, and early childhood experiences do not support the development of a healthy ego. Therefore, behavioral patterns and cognitive persectives that were adaptive and protective at one stage in life, become maladaptive and create challenges later on.
Ego or identity is created and molded throughout our lives. As our brain develops, from birth to age 25, our ways of understanding and interacting with both our external and internal worlds become increasingly complex. As a young child, our identity is rooted in the physical world; we may identify as “girl” or “boy,” “short” or “tall,” etc. As development continues, the ego becomes an intricate system of physical, sexual, sensory/somatic, emotional, and intellectual qualities. The development of these various qualities, and their interdependent relationships, are impacted by our innate nature as well as environmental and experiencial stimuli.
Breakdowns or barriers to healthy development can occur in one, or multiple areas and remain with us until deep work is done to shift these patterns and perspectives. The good news is that thanks to neuroplasticity, we can create new patterns! We are fluid, ever-evolving beings, and building a healthy ego can be accomplished at any stage in life.