“Never allow your ego to diminish your ability to listen.” ― Gary Hopkins
At any time of day, we may find our minds filled with incessant chatter. If we’re not conscious of it, we can get overwhelmed with worries, judgments, and rants. Buddha described these aspects of our thoughts as the “monkey mind” because they resemble drunken monkeys, chattering, screeching, and jumping around endlessly.
The source of this critical and chaotic voice is our ego. More specifically, it is the negative side of it. Many spiritual thinkers have labelled the ego as the enemy of inner peace. The ego, however, plays an essential role in preserving our self-esteem and identity. It’s the part of you that ensures you eat right, get enough sleep, and protects you from others overstepping your boundaries. It defines who you are in the world and solidifies your place in your community.
As we continue to move through life, the ego is prone to absorbing negative social conditioning. When we are exposed to unhealthy standards around money, status, and beauty, we can develop a falsified and negative ego that makes us feel insecure and even lead to self-sabotage.
According to a Psychology Today article by Meredith Fuller, the number one reason why women are mean to each other is that they lack self-confidence and self-awareness. “One reason women are nasty to other women is because they project their unwanted parts onto the other women—especially their fear, envy, jealousy, suspicion, resentment, rage, anxiety, or lack of self-esteem and confidence,” Fuller writes.
It’s impossible to completely rid ourselves of the ego, but we can learn to manage it. We have to heal the hurt and let it take a backseat so that another aspect of our consciousness can become the driver of our lives: the Higher Self. The Higher Self is the highest and most exalted part of you. It embodies noble traits like observation, awareness, reflection, intuition, balance, foresight, expansion, and big-picture thinking.
In spiritual circles where it takes on a more esoteric meaning, the Higher Self is perceived as the voice of the soul, connected to a higher dimension. It’s an entity that isn’t defined by Earthly labels, roles, and identities. It’s connected to the divine realms: the Universe, God, Source, or whatever term you use. It’s the inner oracle that sees, knows, and understands things from an elevated perspective. It’s rooted in love and guides us toward choices for our best selves and the good of everyone around us.
When we allow it to become dominant in our consciousness and let go of any resistance caused by negative ego, things flow smoothly and effortlessly. In his book, “The Higher Self: The Magic of Inner and Outer Fulfillment,” spiritual leader Deepak Chopra states that nature functions on this principle of silent efficiency. “It’s called the principle of least action and maximum effectiveness. In nature there is no effort. We hardly see any effort in birds migrating.” According to Chopra, when the mind is silent and quiet, “inner energies wake up and work miracles on your behalf without any conscious efforts on your part.”
Merging the strength of our ego with the wisdom of our Higher Self allows us to make conscious choices. Most people find this hard because their ego is loud and dominating. It’s been overdeveloped due to years of societal conditioning that supports its growth while ignoring the cultivation of the Higher Self, its quieter counterpart.
We can become attuned to the Higher Self by learning how to distinguish it from the ego. This will give us more control over the impulsive behaviors caused by a damaged ego and influence us to move in a purposeful direction under the guidance of our Higher Self.
Here are five key differences that will help you tell your ego from your Higher Self:
1. The ego is attached to the physical and material world, the Higher Self belongs to a non-physical and transcendental realm: The ego is attached to the physical and material. Every success is based on monetary gain, status, popularity, and worldly recognition. While there is nothing wrong in having a desire for these things, the problem arises when we use them as the only benchmarks for progress and development. The Higher Self knows that you are so much more than your material possessions. Your goals should be based on your purpose and values rather than pleasing others and proving yourself to them.
2. Ego is fueled by fear and doubt, the Higher Self comes from trust and faith: If you experience fears, whether they be worry, shame, desperation, or guilt, you’re hearing the voice of your ego. It causes anxiety because it stops us feeling supported by a Higher Force. We feel threatened by obstacles and worry about hardships because we’re afraid we can’t handle it. The Higher Self knows there’s more than what meets the eye and that everything, good and bad, happens for the purpose of our soul’s evolution. You’ll experience a sense of assurance that you have all the tools you need to face challenges. Even in the worst of circumstances, this part of you will shine a light on the good and the positive aspects. An accident reminds us to appreciate every moment. The ending of a job or relationship is seen as a time to reevaluate and begin a new chapter.
3. The ego highlights limitations and scarcity, the Higher Self shows expansion and abundance: Being in your ego gives you tunnel vision. You can’t see beyond the narrow confines of your limited beliefs that wall you off from other options and perspectives. The ego is never satisfied and always fearful that there will never be enough. This brings up feelings of greed and jealousy, as well as an increase in behaviors like hoarding and competition. The Higher Self gives us a more expansive vision that reveals all the possibilities available to us. It’s the force that guides an artist to create a great work of art or the young techie to begin a start-up. A sense of inner abundance makes us believe that we’ll always be taken care of and provided for. It supports us when we take calculated risks to follow our dreams.
4. The ego is loud and cantankerous, the Higher Self is soft and calming: The ego originates from the mind and can cause physical sensations like a tightening of the jaw and muscles, and a general sense of uneasiness. Because of the demanding nature of the ego, it can be loud and unyielding, like a child throwing a tantrum. The Higher Self feels warm and calming. It’s softer and more subtle, which makes it harder to hear if we’re not attuned to it. Like a wise sage, it provides gentle nudges to guide us in the right direction when we’re trying to make decisions.
5. Ego wants us to focus on meeting our own needs, the Higher Self considers others and the collective: The scarcity mindset of the ego influences us to focus on meeting our needs without considering the needs of others. It makes us selfish and self-centered, which can impact our relationships and how others perceive us. In turn, this affects the flow of abundance into our lives which requires a healthy flow of give-and-take. The Higher Self wants us to consider the long-range impact of our choices and how they might affect the people in our immediate environments and as well as further afield. This is the part that guides us to recycle, buy fair trade goods, or make healthy sacrifices for the benefit of our loved ones.
People often say they wish that figuring out the right choices in their lives could be easier. What they don’t realize is that guidance is always available to them. The Higher Self is our soul’s GPS, directing us as we strive toward becoming the highest version of ourselves, guiding us to follow our callings, help others, and live our best lives.
All my best on your journey,
Question for you: What is the biggest challenge you face when trying to listen to your Higher Self? How do you think you can overcome this?
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