The Relationship between the Ego and Unhappiness
The Relationship between the Ego and Unhappiness

The Relationship between the Ego and Unhappiness

Unhappiness is an ego-created mental-emotional disease that has reached epidemic proportions. It is the inner equivalent of the environmental pollution of our planet.

The ego, particularly the collective ego, strengthens itself through empathizing the ‘otherness’ of others. In other words, the ego needs an ‘enemy’ for its continued survival. Hence its refusal to compromise.

The quicker one is in attaching verbal and mental labels to people, things, situations, the more shallow one’s reality becomes and the more deadened one becomes to reality, to the miracle of life that continuously unfolds within and around one.

The ego isn’t wrong, it is just unconscious. Making yourself right and others wrong is one of the principal egoic mind patterns. Egos only differ on the surface, deep down they are all the same.

Complaining is one of the ego’s favourite strategies for strengthening itself. Resentment is the emotion that goes with complaining and adds even more energy to the ego. Resentment means, to feel bitter, indignant, aggrieved or offended. You resent other people’s greed, their dishonesty, their lack of integrity, what they did do, what they should have done. The ego loves it. Non-reaction to the ego in others is one of the most effective ways, not only of going beyond the ego in yourself, but also of dissolving the collective human ego

At times you may have to take practical steps to protect yourself from deeply unconscious people. This you can do without making them into enemies. Your greatest protection is to remain conscious. A person becomes an enemy if you personalise the unconscious that is the ego. Non-reaction is not weakness, it is a strength. Non-reaction is also forgiveness.

The moment you become aware of the ego in you, it is really no longer the ego, just an old-conditioned mind pattern. Ego implies ‘unawareness’. It will take time and awareness to change the old pattern as it has the momentum of thousands of years of collective human unconsciousness behind it, but every time it is recognised, it is weakened.

There are many people who are constantly reacting against something – how dare they, I resent this, this is an outrage. They are addicted to upsets and anger the way some are addicted to drugs. By reacting against perceived threats and insults, they assert and strengthen their feeling of self. One strong grievance is enough to contaminate large areas of your life and keep you in the grip of the ego.

The past has no power to stop you from being present now. Only your grievance about the past can do that and all a grievance is, is the baggage of old thought and emotion.

Complaining, fault-finding and over-reaction strengthens the ego’s sense of boundary and separateness on which its survival depends. When complaining, you are making yourself right and the other, wrong. Ego takes everything personally. When reacting, one is defending the illusion of oneself.

The particular egoic patterns that you react to most strongly in others and misperceive as their identity, tend to be the same patterns that are also in you, but that you are unwilling or unable to detect within yourself. Anything that you resent and strongly react to in another, is also in you.

Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists. Once you see the ego for what it is, it becomes much easier to remain nonreactive toward it. You don’t take it personally anymore. There is no blaming, accusing, complaining or proving wrong. Nobody is wrong, it is just the ego in the person. Compassion arises when you recognise that all are suffering from the same fragility of the mind, some more acutely than others. You do not fuel the drama that is part of all egoic relationships – you do not react.

A genuine relationship is one that is not dominated by the ego with its image-making and self-seeking. In a genuine relationship, there is an outward flow of open, alert attention toward the other person, in which there is no wanting whatsoever. That alert attention is presence. It is the prerequisite for any authentic relationship. Whenever you feel superior or inferior, that is the ego in you

Unhappiness is an ego-created mental-emotional disease that has reached epidemic proportions. It is the inner equivalent of the environmental pollution of our planet. The ego cannot distinguish between a situation and its interpretation of and reaction to that situation. Conditions aren’t dreadful, it is how we react and respond to them that is dreadful. What is dreadful is one’s reaction, one’s resistance and the emotions created by the resistance. In Shakespeare’s words ‘there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so’.

Anger and resentment strengthen the ego enormously by increasing the sense of separateness, emphasising the ‘otherness or differences’ of others. If we were able to observe the physiological changes that take place inside the body, how they adversely affect the functioning of the heart, the digestive and immune systems and countless other bodily functions, it would be abundantly clear that such states are pathological and are forms of suffering.

Peace is the end of the ego. To be at peace, we must make peace with the present moment. The present moment is the field on which the game of life takes place. There are three words that convey the secret of the art of living, the secret of all success and happiness – One With Life. Being one with Life is being one with Now.

To end the misery that has afflicted the human condition for thousands of years, you have to start with yourself and take responsibility for your inner state at any given moment. Ask yourself ‘is there any negativity in me at this moment’, then become alert and attentive to your thoughts and emotions. Watch out for any thoughts of fear, anger, nervousness. Watch out for thoughts that appear to justify or explain any unhappiness, but in reality, cause it. The moment you become aware of a negative state within yourself, this is success, not failure. Until that awareness happens, there is identification with inner states, and such identification is ego. With awareness, comes dis-identification from thoughts, emotions and reactions. This is not to be confused with denial.

When the shift happens from thinking to awareness, an intelligence far greater than the ego’s cleverness, begins to operate in your life.

Credit:  Eckhart Tolle