The Ego, which is Freud’s concept, is the protective mechanism we utilize to prevent us from experiencing pain, shame, humiliation, danger and any other rotten thing that threatens our self-image – which ironically is what CAUSES us pain, shame and humiliation. The Ego is our identity and where we can be deeply wounded. Much like the Shadow, the Ego’s purpose is to keep us “safe”. However, the rules and limiting beliefs created by the Ego become prison bars as we get older. They limit us from our full potential, prevent us from changing and from being truly self-aware.
The Ego is who you THINK you are. It’s a construct. A self-image. It’s what you tell yourself about yourself in the negative and positive. It’s your IDENTITY. It’s the “you” that you’re conscious of. You’re probably proud of these traits, as it’s the part of you that you feel “safe” or positive with identifying as “you”.. Like I can ask you - describe yourself in a sentence. You might say - Well I’m Suzie, I love kids/kids love me, I love cooking/cookin loves me, I give the best back rubs - oh yeah - and I’m a tenured secretary at Burn the World Acquisitions + Mergers.
THe Shadow is the parts of you that you do *not* identify as you, that you reject or envy. The Shadow is largely unconscious, The Ego is more conscious. It’s what you think you are or need to be in order to survive in this world. The Ego wants you to be what it thinks makes you “safe” - even if that’s not true.
Much like the Shadow, when your Ego boundary is butted up against it can become reactive, hostile and destructive. It’s the piece of you that believes with total certainty that you are a specific way, or you must be a specific way to survive. Anything that threatens that belief or image is “bad” or threatening.
Example - Maybe you have a strong conviction that you are the World’s Sexiest Man Alive. It’s how you define yourself. You oil yourself up with Sandalwood essence and perform extraordinary glute acrobatics in the large ornate mirrors mounted over your bed and on every wall. You are perfection. That’s great that you have that self-belief - it’s positive. But what happens when it’s threatened?
You’re the WSMA and then you meet a man who, somehow, is even sexier and not only that but is younger and richer. That cannot be. Your Ego will seek to crush him - whether it’s by trying to get outside opinions that you are indeed the sexiest one of all, or by pushing him as far out of your field of consciousness as possible. What if you can’t though? What if he gets hired at the same corporate Hellscape as you? Or your wife’s eyes linger a little too long on his biceps and she gets his number for business reasons. You can’t escape it. he becomes the star of The World’s Next Top Sexiest Man Alive. It’s possible murderous delights will dance through your head as you inevitably spiral into self-destruction. Unless, of course, you realize what’s happening and *sparkle emoji* heal and integrate *sparkle emoji*.
To the same token, if your ego is wrapped up in a more “negative” self-image, like say you identify as an unlucky fucker. A sad sack. You’d describe yourself as the World’s Unluckiest Lady Alive. Then when experiences, and information, and opportunities to the contrary appear in your life that you actually you could change, be happy, life could get better for you, you have skills, people like you - then your Ego will actively work to sabotage you. Basically. So if you find yourself in these negative self-image loops - this is why. Because your Ego has positively identified with a “negative self-image” and to think of yourself and believe the opposite for you is true, feels threatening.