I was flipping through the Upanishads earlier when I came across the discussion/story of the two different self’s. The ego self and the Self (capital S self/authentic self). One of the highlights from my skimming is the “ego gropes in darkness, while the Self lives in light” and obviously there’s a lot more in the book to unpack than just that little phrase, but that’s the one that got me today. That’s the one that gets me to take a look at how I’m acting/been acting recently.
I think I sometimes have a hard time differentiating between my authentic Self and my “ego” self (ya know the self-that’s a product of survival and needs constant validation). I think we all have a hard time with it though. Sometimes not knowing there is a difference between the two. I don’t want to immediately call our egos bad, but it is very strong and greedy. A friend of mine, while in yoga teacher training, explained the ego as being like a dog that you have to let out for walks, feed it, and water it, take care of it. When you walk it, you have to keep the dog on a leash though, because it isn’t that well trained. And maybe with time, you can trust it without a leash, etc. I like that analogy.
Through yoga and travel and just all the things, I’ve had glimpses and long stances of my authentic self. However, I have a hard time finding her sometimes. I think it gets covered up by my ego, but my ego is greedy and hurt from all the trauma and hard things in my brain that just don’t make sense. I want to complain and say I have a hard time accessing my true self because growing up it never felt safe to be me, I always tried to be what my mother wanted from me, so she’d love me. It was never good enough, because that’s not how that works (there’s a deep and more complicated reason to why all of that worked the way it did). I want to say never exploring who I was and what I liked as a child helped develop a pattern in me with my ego that likes to think I’m the worst or everyone around me is the worst and hates me. I think we all have circumstances like that, it doesn’t make it any less hard though.
Like anything our egos can go both ways. We can scream that we’re the best or hate ourselves for being the worst, but either way it isn’t us and it’s feeding the darkness that the ego likes to “grope” in. Acting out of fear and a survival mindset, instead of just really listening and doing what feels right. I know from yoga our feelings are supposed to tell us something. Sometimes those somethings aren’t present things that are happening though. The feelings are just stored from a long time ago and coming up because it finally feels safe enough for them to be released. Maybe they were triggered by a softer kind of hurt. I think for me the bpd or being very emotionally sensitive makes it hard to see if those feelings are coming from a hurt ego or past or my present authentic self. They both may be hurt, but both for very different reasons and both requiring very different solutions to healing.
My ego likes to get caught in my feelings. We like to think we’re the worst or the best because my ego is fragile and wants attention and validation from wherever it can get it because it spent it’s early years never having it. My authentic self, those emotions come with clarity. Crying my eyes out feels relieving and not like I’m spiraling into an episode when it’s coming from that authentic space. Doing something wrong makes me defensive when I’m acting out of an ego space, borderline insane probably sometimes. While when I’m seeing it from a more authentic point of view, I can be like “yeah I did that, and I don’t want to do it again” and then dive deeper into why, why my ego wanted to act out and make things worse. etc. And how to heal it.
Yesterday I finally started journaling in a book I’ve had for years and never opened. Opps. (it’s the stronger than BPD journal). The first exercise was how to move through distressing thoughts/feelings. It involves listing the distressing thought in one sentence, then the feelings that follow it. After, reality checking the thought, trying to see if it’s real or if it’s a thought pattern that’s played out a lot in your life. Then it challenges you to tune into your “wise mind” (I think of it as my authentic self), and to challenge that thought and feelings by seeing if there is any evidence that can support the opposite belief than that thought in your brain. Then how to balance out the thought and notice how a more balanced thought feels in your body. Then encourages you to think about how you might handle similar feelings and thoughts in the future.
I know that’s a lot. But honestly, it’s genius. For me it’s like my hurt ego and true Self are fighting. My ego is so hurt and intense, it’s hard to find that true Self sometimes or just to be rational. These steps/exercise above are just steps in learning to train and challenge what my ego is feeling and figure out the truth. And to heal it enough to where those big emotions come a little less and things are a little easier for me in this lifetime.
There’s a lot more to all of this. I think this is just one perspective on many. There’s a lot of ways to do little checks to see what type of place you’re acting out of and feeling out of. For instance, sometimes I post stuff on Instagram that isn’t that authentic, but it’s because my ego wants attention (I know cringy but true). I don’t know that’s why I’m doing it; I just feel such a strong impulsive to post something and then get hurt when no one likes it. It’s like the child in me who wants attention is just mad and throwing things out there to get it. That doesn’t make it okay though or necessarily all bad. Like one of the yoga sutras I read yesterday (book 4, sutra 7 if you’re curious), yogis actions aren’t good or bad, they just are. I think maybe sometimes, even when we’re trying our best to do things right those patterns are so deep in us that you have to act in a certain way or do things so bad to truly see where they’re coming from. That doesn’t excuse bad behavior, but it does help explain where it’s coming from. And I just feel grateful that I’ve found space to do that. To see it for what it is.
A few things to I’ve tried or am currently trying to do to switch up perspective in the mix of the two self’s to find my authentic Self – rearranged my room, because new perspective. I’m also working on noticing what my body does when I am saying or doing something (is my heart/shoulder girdle hunched over and am I closed off and nervous? or am I confident and relaxed even if it’s a hard thing I’m doing). Also, the most cringiest thing I do (and I know others do it as well) is look at who likes my stuff/views my story on Instagram, that curiosity can very easily trigger my ego self and I am challenging myself to take a break from viewing those things after posting for a few days. Just to try to get out of that ego self and heal whatever it is in me that needs to be healed.
What are your thoughts on the two different “self’s”? Is there anything you do that helps access the authentic Self and quite the ego?