When we are thinking, we are having a conversation with ourselves.
Psychologists and others have declared that we each have different personalities involved in these discussions, whether they be called Ego/Id/Super Ego (Freud), or Higher Self/Little self (Hindu religion), or Soul/Ego/Super Ego (Sahaja Yoga), or Heart (soul, spirit) /Mind (left brain, right brain).
An example of our conversational thinking might be "Should I do this now?" "No, because that needs to be done first." "Oh yes I remember now. I should write a list." "Make sure we prioritise it too." "Yes, definitely."
Our ego personalities are developed in early life, to keep us on track, to help us to remember what to do, and how, when, and where. They also provide us with constant chit-chat, making observations and judgements of things that are going on. They also provide a constant critique of ourselves and of others, letting us know when we are stepping "out of line", or when others are.
This becomes apparent, when we try to think about nothing at all.
Do this now: think about nothing, for as long as you can.
You probably found that it is near impossible to think about nothing. Our egos are very noisy, in comparison to our heart, or our soul.
Now ask yourself this: "What does my heart say?"
Mine wants to know what I am asking it about. Our hearts are typically very quiet, in comparison to our egos.
Our egos are driven by fear, whereas our heart is driven by love. The nature of fear is that it turns up, uninvited, whenever it wants. The nature of love is that it has respect, and waits to be asked.
Our Two Egos
We each have two egos, an angry ego, and a guilty ego. Both are provoked when we are faced with a sudden change, a trauma, or a challenge, and we try to make sense of it. Fear tells us "This is bad!" and then our egos try to work out whose fault it is. Anger blames others, and guilt blames ourselves.
Typically, every man and women has one of each ego, however our sex hormones, life experiences, community, religion, environment and past traumas, can all influence the formation and size of each ego in each person. The angry ego is also called the male ego, and the guilty ego is also called the female ego, probably since both are more obvious when under the influence of the respective sex hormones. In other words, men may lean more towards reacting to challenges with anger/blame, whilst women may be more prone to reacting to challenges with guilt/shame, however, both exist within each individual, to varying degrees. For example, there are chronically angry women, and chronically neurotic men. The egos can also be described as dysfunctional left brain and dysfunctional right brain thinking.
The angry ego knows only one thing: anger and blame. The guilty ego knows only one thing: guilt and shame. When our thoughts step into judgement, into the blame/shame game, that's our egos talking. When we are feeling critical of ourselves or of others, we tend to feel sick. Extremely judgemental people carry a lot of stress and are often quite miserable. As children, these egos exaggerate the effects of our actions and of the actions of others, so that we quickly learn what works and what doesn't work in social settings. However, as adults, these egos are no longer required. We think far more clearly without our egos getting involved. When we have forgiven ourselves, and when we are able to observe without judgement, we are not clouded by fear, therefore we become calmer and smarter.
Our egos are not the real us. They are merely illusions, based on past traumas, that can be healed. This is excellent news. This fact helps us to stop judging others for bad behaviour: it's not the real person. They are just being driven by fear/anger/guilt. Of course, we are still human, and we will have moments when we become angered by the actions of another, but healing our egos is something worth aspiring to, simply because it feels fantastic when we do.
Healing Our Egos
Think back to a time when you embarrassed yourself. Revisit the feeling of guilt or shame. Can you feel the discomfort that the guilty ego provides us with? Guilt is the worst feeling in the world.
Now forgive the guilty ego. Remind yourself that as humans, we are all infallible, and that all mistakes, in all humans, are forgivable. Say "I forgive myself for all of my mistakes, and I forgive others for all of their mistakes. I let the past go." Breathe in "I AM FORGIVABLE" and breathe out "I AM FORGIVEN".
How does that feel?
Now think back to a time when somebody was really mean to you. Revisit the feeling of resentment at the injustice. Can you feel the discomfort that the angry ego provides us with? Anger is like a poison that can eat away at us.
Now imagine forgiving both scenarios.
Forgive the angry ego. Remind yourself that when we are angry, we all tend to hurt others, and we can all come across as mean and unfair. According to Buddhism, holding onto anger is like "drinking a cup of poison, and expecting the other person to die". It is unlikely to affect the perpetrator, plus the anger in them would probably be victorious that we were also made angry. It is possible that our grudges may even make us physically sick. Say to yourself, "I forgive that person for being mean and unfair, and I forgive myself for when I was also mean and unfair. I let them and their anger, and myself and my anger, and the past injustices go." Breathe in "I FORGIVE OTHERS" and breathe out "I FORGIVE MYSELF FOR WHEN I WAS ANGRY".
Now ask your heart, "How does that feel?"
Mine says "Fantastic! Thank you!"
This is a wonderful way to start, and to end each day.
Joanna Mansson BVSc is the founder of Holistic Emotional Healing for Humans and Animals. She is a retired veterinarian, who has been researching human nature and animal nature for 18 years. She teaches Emotional Intelligence and Animal Communication.