The more I manage to successfully align with my soul, the more I’ve come to see the ego as a very neurotic BFF I just can’t shake. The more I try to shake her, the more she clings. Or worse, she disappears and then lunges out of the bushes when I least expect it. She shows up at the party she wasn’t invited to—the soul party where everyone’s happy and peaceful and cool—and steers things in a decidedly negative direction. She’s like the member of the team at work you just can’t fire, maybe for legal reasons, or maybe her dad owns the company. Either way, she’s not going anywhere, and you’ve got to learn how to manage her so that she doesn’t end up managing you.
What I like to do is have a morning meeting with my ego and hear her concerns. This way I don’t forget about her, which is dangerous, for the reasons stated above. In Shakespearean terms, it’s kind of like Othello having a morning meeting with Iago. Iago continually undermined Othello by planting terrible ideas in his mind and watering them with fear, until Othello was completely undone. This is a profound depiction of what happens when the worst part of us gets on top of the better part of us.
That will not be happening with you and your ego because you know better. You know your ego is just a misguided character who wants the best for you but just doesn’t really know what that is, much less how to make it happen.
My particular ego veers toward paranoia. She’ll take something good in my life and try to convince me that it’s bad. “I don’t know about that new guy at work,” she’ll say knowingly. “I think he might be undermining you.”
"Okay," I’ll say. "Thanks for looking out for me. Anything else you want me to know?" She’ll go on about how much more I should have accomplished by this point in my life, and how dry my hair is getting as I age.
Now, I wish I could say that this morning meeting is enough to make my ego go away for good, or even for the rest of the day. It isn’t. But what it does do is put me in a greater state of awareness, and awareness is power. The morning meeting reveals to me all the ways my egoic desires will try to get the better of me throughout the day, so that I don’t make the mistake of buying into them. As Machiavelli said, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” In terms of inner work, I say, keep your soul close and your ego closer.
“Know your enemy and know yourself and you will always be victorious.”