The ego is always working to “protect” our heart and ends up cutting us off from what we want most –here’s how you can prevent that from happening…
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See the author’s TEDx Talk on Creating Extraordinary Intimacy in a Shut Down World
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When it comes to romantic relationships, the ego is like the moon: romantic, literally necessary for our survival and has the ability to drive us temporarily crazy on a periodic basis. When you allow your ego to be the main driver of your relationship it will cause it to crash every time, sooner or later. While we can’t escape having an ego we can learn to live with it and even leverage it (appropriately) to achieve deep, connecting intimacy that continues to grow over time.
Ego and the Heart
What I am about to share with you is based upon my personal experience and keen observation of, and conversations with, many other couples. This is simply a model of human nature that works exceedingly well for me as for others who have adopted it. You don’t have to believe it’s true. All I ask is that you suspend judgment long enough to see if it resonates with you and your experience.
In the simplest terms, human beings have a dual nature and experience of reality. One based in our head as a mental construct (i.e. Ego) and the other as a core “essence” beyond the physical or intellectual which I call the Heart –our source of Awareness, the Observer.
Our ego forms early in our childhood with built-in wiring whose primary purpose is survival. It is shaped and formed by our experiences throughout life (especially during our vulnerable childhood) and expresses itself through our personality.
Our Heart (metaphorically speaking) is the true, unadulterated non-physical essence of who we are when we come into this world. Some philosophies call it the Soul, Higher Self, True Consciousness, Awareness and so on. For our purposes here, I’m simply referring it as our Heart.
The Heart never changes, can never be hurt or broken, is never needy, has no drama and is always fully at peace. Our Heart is where true, lasting connection with others originates. Keep in mind that any negative qualities typically attributed to the heart in our culture are really the realm of the ego. So next time someone says “She broke my heart.” consider thinking in terms of “She broke my ego.” instead. When you make it a practice to re-frame any negative aspect of your relationship this way you will be amazed at how it quickly it eliminates the charge around it.
Egos Falling In Love
When we fall in love with someone, it is primarily our egos that are doing the falling. I am not disputing that a deeper, ineffable connection (i.e. the Heart) is not there also; it often is. However, the flirting, physical attraction, charm etc. all come from the ego. Our egos can get very, very excited (“OMG, I’m SO in love with him/her!!!”) when we connect with someone who fulfills most of our relationship needs (assuming it is reciprocal, otherwise our egos get trashed). In fact, it seems that the typical definition of “love” is completely driven by our egos.
Who we are attracted to and how we interact with them is driven almost exclusively by our Sexual Operating System, which I’ve covered in previous articles. Because this most visible part of romantic connection is so ego-based, if left unchecked, it also becomes the source of the relationship’s undoing: every…single…time.
Ego is the Eclipse of the Heart
The Heart is like the sun, always shining, always pouring out endless supplies of warmth and connection. Relationship troubles start when we allow our ego to eclipse our Heart, by blocking its ability to transmit and receive true connection with others, especially our significant other. Ego is the armor we put up to “protect” ourselves from emotional wounding, tricking us to believe that it is our Heart it seeks to protect when in fact it is only trying to protect itself. And in so doing it effectively blocks our Heart’s ability to transmit and receive that deep connection with others. A connection so profound and transcendent that I propose we call this “Love” with a capital “L”.
When someone we love hurts us and we shut down or withdraw because of it, it is our ego that is hurt and the ego that forms the barrier. Our Heart continues to shine unabated as always. And just knowing that gives you a head start in reconciling the unlimited expression of your Heart with the needs of the ego.
Awareness as the Great Mediator
Consider for a moment as to what would happen if you took the time to become aware of your ego’s machinations. To stand back as it were to observe how the ego is driven by survival needs to interfere with the very thing you want most, transcendent connection with your partner.
When you develop the discipline (it require discipline because the ego fights it tooth and nail) to simply observe your relationship interactions in the context of ego, it puts you in a position to interrupt the ego’s reactive tendencies. And when you are able to do that consistently you will effectively eliminate all the drama from your relationship.
Does this mean that becoming aware and being the Observer will ensure your relationship will survive? Not necessarily. There may come a point (or not) when it is in the best interests of both parties to move on. However if it does come to that, through your awareness you will release each other out of Love rather than struggle over ego-based neediness and fear of loss. The ego sees this letting go as a little “death” while the Heart sees it as a celebration of what was, what is and what is to come.
As long as we are part of this human experience we will have an ego. It is both necessary for our physical survival and often quite helpful in our efforts to improve our circumstances. It is no surprise that most of our society’s leaders and innovators have rather healthy egos that motivate them. And as you read this last sentence I wouldn’t be surprised if your ego was saying something like “See! You need me to succeed!” It just never stops and simply cannot help itself.
But that doesn’t mean it has to be in the driver’s seat. By being aware and dispassionately observing it in action you give that steering wheel back to your Heart, the true essence of who you are. And when your Heart is your guide you will never, ever go astray.
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