Stripping Away The Ego and Dealing With The “Unconscious” World

Since reading Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, I’ve definitely been more conscious of my own ego. The thing about it is that, the more you start to peel back the layers and recognize the ego, the more you realize just how ego-driven you are, no matter how conscious, shy, kind etc you may think you are- and therefore just how much work you have to do to become truly ego-free! So I’m realizing just how driven by ego I still am and how vigilant I must be in order to stop it taking over at every turn.I do generally consider myself to be more conscious than average. I consider other people’s feelings, I’m respectful of others, I try to treat people without judgment etc. However, what I’ve noticed about myself is that when I encounter people who are blatantly disrespectful or selfish, it really gets to me and elicits a lot of angry or annoyed thoughts. It’s not just because it represents an attack on my identity in some way because these things anger me even when they are not directed AT me, for example, when I see them happening around me to other people.

This has proved to be one of my main challenges so far. I haven’t yet been able to pinpoint the cause but I’m assuming it has something to do with my remaining ego. A lot of times when we get annoyed with others it’s because we see something in them that reminds us of a quality we dislike in ourselves. So is it the ego I see in them that irritates me because I have not yet fully stripped mine away? Or is it because there’s a similar selfishness in myself – a belief that the way I do things is the “right” way and although my way may be considered more “conscious” and someone else’s “wrong” or “unconscious”, mine is still a form of selfish ego and so I respond to the same in others?

Whatever the reason, I know that this shows the limits of my consciousness because in verse 49 of Dr Wayne Dyer’s translation of the Tao, he says:

He is kind to the kind.
He is also kind to the unkind
because the nature of his being is kindness.

So because I am responding with less than kindness in some situations, I see I am still acting out of ego and not from my true, or higher self.

I’m noticing a series of steps that occurs in this process when encountering situations or people that trigger my annoyance:

1) Anger/irritated reaction
I become annoyed and do not understand why the other person is being so blatantly selfish – what makes them think it is ok to act in such a way?!! I can usually snap out of it pretty quick as I realize the futility but I would like to bypass it altogether!

2) Non reaction.
Sometimes when I’m feeling particularly calm or in a good mood I’m noticing that I can just observe these actions and traits in others without really having much of a response.

3) Reflection.
Seeing myself in others. One of the best ways to make peace with the world around you I’ve discovered is to try and see yourself in everyone. Realize that you want to live your life the way you choose, just as others do – even if their way seems “wrong” – that’s really just a judgement I’ve put on it. We all think ours is the “right” or the “best” way!

4) Acceptance
I’m not totally there yet, but sometimes Step 3 leads to an acceptance of the way people are. I cannot change them or force them to be at a different level of consciousness -they are how they are and that’s it. This is easier to do with friends or family members – they may a trait we don’t like that much, but we accept them for how they are so that trait becomes less bothersome. Ultimately this is what we all wish of other people – to accept us how we are, annoying traits and all! Another powerful key to acceptance again comes from Tolle. He says that when we act in ways we may not like, or think are out of our character, that’s usually our ego or pain-body coming out – not our true selves. So it helps to recognize that the same thing is going on in other people. Some people have deeper pain bodies and egos and we have to realize that when people do things that could be labeled “unconscious”, that is actually their pain-body at work, not their true self. Just as we do not want to be judged based on our ego, so we should not judge others based on egoic actions.

5) Compassion
In some moments I can have compassion for people even when they are doing “bad” things – for it means their ego or pain body is very strong and it is hard for them to break out of. Even though it may not seem this way – it’s not always a conscious choice for them to act like this and I have no right to judge them.

6) Kindness
I’m not here yet but according to the Tao, the ultimate reaction is always kindness since that is the essence of our highest self. I’ll let you know when I get there 😉 This reminds me of an analogy Wayne Dyer has used – when you squeeze an orange, nothing but orange juice comes out because that’s all that is inside. As humans, when we are “squeezed” or tested, what comes out, is what’s inside of us. Truly enlightened humans have nothing but love and kindness inside so no matter what the situation, that’s all that can come out. For the rest of us, there’s usually a mixture of emotions, reactions and thoughts that show themselves.

So I guess this is how I try and deal with the world at large. It’s very tempting to fall into the egoic reaction of assuming you are more spiritual than others, and therefore “better”, but in reality we are all equal – there is no inherent better or worse – just levels of consciousness which we cannot control in others and must accept just as we must accept bad or good weather equally – it’s something that is just not in our hands to change.

How do you deal with challenging people or situations that typically make you angry?

2 thoughts on “Stripping Away The Ego and Dealing With The “Unconscious” World

  1. Hi,

    Very interesting article on “stripping back the ego”.

    Following the death of someone very dear to me, I have embarked on a spiritual journey which has forced me to look at the way I respond to situations, including the beginnings of developing of compassion towards others.
    I remind myself that I am no more or less than the next person.
    I step back, breathe and either walk away or take action to come up with a solution.
    I try and see things from others’ perspectives.
    I don’t worry myself.
    I live life as simply as possible.
    I set boundaries with other people, so there are no misunderstandings. This is fair on both parties.
    I don’t take criticism personally, but I see CONSTRUCTIVE criticism as a means to develop and improve myself.
    People don’t have to agree with me.
    I don’t expect miracles to happen overnight.
    I accept that change is gradual.
    I endeavour to treat others equally.
    I meditate as often as possible with a purpose in mind.
    I practice gratitude daily. This encourages generosity.

    Positive Habits and rituals practiced daily shape the way we view life, so when we are in challenging situations/dealing with difficult people, we are in a much clearer head space to deal with these. Start with a list of some positive habits today and build on them. Then you will see that your life will start to improve! 🙂


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