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Meet the Ego

Although you may have heard various definitions of the Ego, here I speak of the Ego as "an identity constructed for you by your mind."

Similar to how children or actors take on identities other than their own, as adults we often (knowingly and unknowingly) play roles with the help of our Ego. However, with these roles it is far trickier to be able to tell the difference between your Ego and the real you. In fact, most of us never notice the difference.

Your Ego includes all that it thinks you are, including many things that really aren't you at all. To give a very simple example: if we have grown up believing that material possessions are important, we may be more than a little upset when the new car starts picking up dents. We are going to take it personally because we feel that we have been damaged — after all, in the mind's eye, our stuff is part of us.

Your Ego is a delusion. In one sense it can be a delusion that feels empowering, because it expands the notion of who we are. If your mind tells you that you are not just a fan of the Super Bowl-winning Pittsburgh Steelers, but a member of "Steeler Nation," hey, that's a cool identity. Practically the same as being a real Steeler! The trouble is, there's always a downside. What if the Steelers lose?

Things get more complicated when you add the Ego's two powerful minions in the mix, the PIG and the APE. These creatures live to feed and protect your Ego — or the "us" that isn't really us — at any cost.

And any of these behaviors, best characterized as blind animal instincts in the service of pretense, can have detrimental consequences for relationships (both professional and romantic), finances, and your level of happiness.

You are invited to read a true story, one a week, that illustrates how people operate in various life situations, depending on their levels of awareness.

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