Thought Addiction: The Ego vs The True Self

A couple of days ago I read a great post on But She’s Crazy called Lost in Thought. The post talks about being stuck in our thoughts, which can have a negative effect on us where depression and anxiety are concerned.  I had also written a post last week called Mastering the Mind.

Waking up at 5am (as I often do when it gets so light!) I took out a book called Practising the Power of Now by Eckhard Tolle. I dipped in at random and found myself reading on the very same topic: freeing ourselves from our minds. The more I read on the subject, the more I think how important this concept is in helping ourselves ease out of depression and anxiety.

The True Self

For us to truly be at peace with ourselves we need to live in a state of being our true selves. This state comes to us when we live fully in the present moment and connect to the soul inside us. We give in to the spark of God inside each and every one of us and just be. To me I see it as the feeling I get when I am:

  • dancing around the living room to a silly song
  • singing
  • playing with my dog
  • watching a butterfly basking in the sun.
  • playing the piano
  • walking in the countryside

For you it might me the peace you feel when:

  • running
  • baking cupcakes
  • crafting
  • playing sports
  • laughing with great friends
  • gardening
Life suddenly seems to flow while we are being our true selves. We feel at peace. There is no room for the ego to take over with negative thoughts.
The Ego

When we are depressed or anxious, our ego has taken over our thoughts.

The ego cannot exist when we are living as our true selves. Therefore when we are living with depression and anxiety, we are not living as our true selves.

The ego can also be seen as our small self. It is the part of us that is separate from God. The small self is scared to let God take over our lives by living in the flow that is our natural state of being. It sees this way of being as our annihilation, that we will lose our identity by being engulfed by God.

The ego needs to be accepted and approved by society. It needs to be part of the human collective.

There is perhaps historically good reason for this. Survival as a species depended on us working together. In the early days this would have been to gather food, trade etc. Communities with strong bonds, where each member played his accepted role well, would thrive. If you didn’t fit into this way of living, you were made an outcast and were less likely to survive (for example the so-called “witches” who were hunted and burned in the middle ages).

We are scared that allowing our true selves to flourish will take away our control. We might be rejected by society for the way we want to live our lives. Our friends might leave us. We might be ridiculed. We cling to our reputation. Our mask. The ego has left no room for the true self.

Right-Brained Life

A lot of us would like to live the Right-Brained, or creative way of life, as artists, musicians or writers. Our souls long to create. This is our natural state of being, this is our True Self. We reject these ideas as unrealistic, convincing ourselves we could never support ourselves this way. Or we simply tell ourselves we are not good enough. This is our ego. It does not want to let go. It knows that letting go of our socially acceptable mask will result in its death, that we will no longer be separate from God/spirit.

The Ego Rules By Thought

The ego’s main tool for controlling us is the mind. We have come to regard our thoughts as something that we are. If we think we are a failure, then that’s what we believe we are. We accept what we’ve learned throughout our development. The ego basically brainwashes us! Common scripts it likes to use are:

  • you’re not good enough.
  • why should you get to live your dreams when others are suffering?
  • its selfish to put yourself first.
  • life is hard, you wont get anywhere unless you suffer.
  • you must fit into society by working in an acceptable role, otherwise you will be rejected.
  • you’re always thinking about yourself, you should do more for others.

We actually believe this rubbish that our egos tell us!

Living by the rules of our egos can lead us to anxiety and depression. Here the ego has us firmly in its grasp. The irony is it can end up destroying itself when we become so depressed we consider suicide. The ego thinks it knows it all. It doesn’t.

Thought Addiction

It is so easy for our brains to become caught up in the scripts of the ego. The ego has convinced us that we are these thoughts. I identify with Rachel the Failure- this is the identity I have come to accept. This identity is held in place by thoughts such as “I’ll never succeed in life” or “I’ve made so many mistakes in life I might as well give up”. I identify with this. It is familiar and safe.

But it is a lie. It is not my true self- that loving soul that came into this body. Rachel the Failure is a product of learning and development in an ego-based society. She is unhappy and depressed.

But Rachel the Failure feels safe with this identity. Any thoughts of success, self-love, self-acceptance, abundance or deserving happiness are completely foreign! Immediately she interprets the unfamiliar as scary, unsafe. The ego wants us to be scared, to ensure its survival. So we become completely attached to our thoughts of illness, inability, failure, inacceptance of ourselves and self-hatred. They are comforting in their familiarity. We become addicted to the thoughts which ensure the survival of our ego identity:

  • No I can’t do that, I’d never succeed
  • I’m rubbish at that
  • I’m so unattractive
  • I’ll look stupid, people will laugh at me
These are just some of the thought patterns I’ve become addicted to. I attach to a thought and ruminate on it. I churn it around and analyze it. Why am I thinking this way? I shouldn’t be thinking this way? Does this mean I’m still depressed? The thoughts can run with us until we’re on a merry-go-round of worry, spinning out of control. The ego has taken control of our minds and is now running the show completely. We are helpless (or so we think) to control these thoughts.

But what if we were to detach from these thoughts with mindfulness and activities which allow our souls to take over? Life would become easy, simple. We would no longer be at war with ourselves. I would no longer identify with Rachel the Failure. I would love myself completely as I am, 100%. I would do the things I love. I would be my true self. And if I am my true self, the ego and all its negativity, including depression and anxiety, would be gone.

We can get that control back by:

  • become aware of our thoughts and what our ego is feeding us. This puts us in a position of power where we can consciously choose whether or not to believe the messages, and then change them. This can be achieved through Mindfulness, a topic I have covered on Bipolar Management: Meditation and Mindfulness.
  • do things we love, that make us feel whole and bring us back to a state where we are at home with ourselves, eg. sport, playing an instrument, designing, inventing, creating, gardening, singing, dancing, walking, running, absolutely anything that brings you back to the current moment.

We are Masters of Our Minds

We have forgotten that we are the masters of our minds. Humans have evolved, up until now, by allowing our minds and egos to control us. We have over-identified with our thoughts for the good of humanity.

However, now we as humans have taken this to the extreme where businesses and large corporations have taken control of western society. They are ego-based and rule by greed. The current economic collapse is perhaps a good example of why the ego should not be in control.

But our souls have evolved too and we are much more accepting in society of minority groups and outsiders in general. Now is the time for us to evolve further and raise the energetic vibrations of the Earth with our loving true selves. Love in all its forms is glorious and we are reminded and encouraged to fill our lives with love. Love for people, art, music, sport, communities, literature, spirituality, writing, dance, science, wildlife, pets, anything that we feel generates love in our soul. This is living as our true selves.

It’s time for us to wake up and remember who we really are.

Photo Credit: freedigitalphotos.net

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23 thoughts on “Thought Addiction: The Ego vs The True Self

  1. carlarenee45

    absolutely wonderful post! You explained it so articulate and clear. This is so important too. If we could get down to the true us, it would solve a lot of depression, anxiety ect. problems. Thank you for this post!

    Reply
    1. rachelmiller1511 Post author

      Thanks so much Carla! I’m really glad it came across well. I got so annoyed with WordPress this morning, I couldn’t format it very well, so the paragraphs are a bit all over the place! Really glad you liked it 🙂 xxx

      Reply
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  3. NZ Cate

    This is really interesting but I am wondering out loud whether the ego is always such a negative force? It’s not how I had come to understand it but then it is a while since I have thought about it, and maybe I’m just thinking about it in a different way. Not sure. Will have to do some thinking but I certainly agree with you that all those negative thought processes don’t help us return to wholeness.

    Reply
      1. NZ Cate

        I was jest thinking about the Freud breakdown of personality into id, ego and super-ego. It’s a while since I studied it but I think in that all three parts were essential to a complete personality. That said, I know what you mean and I agree entirely that the negative voice in us needs to be let go or at least controlled. Feel free to ignore me, I’m only thinking out loud and certainly wasn’t making any criticism of what you said. It was a great post. 🙂

      2. rachelmiller1511 Post author

        Yes, I know what you mean about the Freud thing: id, ego, super-ego. Thank you for adding to the post, I’m glad to hear this kind of thing- I learn too :). Grateful you read my blog and for your comments 🙂

  4. projectwhitespace

    The other day I left a comment on your music list post and didn’t scroll to the top post (this one) and leave a comment because I didn’t have time to read it thoughtfully. I could only have managed a short skim and I wanted to be able to read it slowly and thoughtfully, especially since it looked like another post that you might have researched. Rachel, your writing is becoming increasingly stronger each time I come here. I feel like you are really digging into your topic and doing a lot of soul searching as you do it. It shows in the writing, because as I read, I’m just flabbergasted at how much I think, “oh yeah, that’s so true!” Or, “oh yeah I never thought of it that way!” Or, “wow, that is SO good! How does she think of it like that?”
    I love this idea of disconnecting our ideas of who we are from our thoughts. Essentially, we need to stop claiming our negative thoughts as who we really are. I also had never thought about looking at my negative thoughts for the lies that they are–like you said, you identify with Rachel the Failure, and how that identity is “held in place” with other thoughts that essentially support that identity. It makes sense that if we can see what our ego has taught us (that thing that is a “product of learning and development in an ego-based society”), and then look at the supporting thoughts that keep that (untrue) identity alive, then we can consciously re-teach ourselves, (with the help of our true selves), who we really are. I’ve got some things to think about. I’m going to truly examine who I think I am–look at any negative thoughts I have about myself–and see if these are supporting an identity that is ego-based and not “true-self” based. I’m interested in seeing what I come up with.

    Reply
    1. rachelmiller1511 Post author

      Thanks so much for saying that about my writing- that’s really lovely of you. I can’t make every post like this as it would take so much time, but when I’m inspired I really like to delve into the subject! I’m really glad you got so much out of it! Living as my true self is something I’m trying to work towards. I think it comes slowly for most of us, though others who have been through a life-changing experience seem to have an overnight awakening. I just remember what it was like as a kid when you have no sense of “that’s good” or “that’s bad”, you just do things for pure the love or joy of it! Thanks for being such a fantastic supporter Bethany 🙂 xxx

      Reply
      1. projectwhitespace

        Yeah, we should be more like kids. 🙂
        And thank YOU for being a fantastic supporter. I am writing my blog award post now, and I mentioned I want you to guest post. Want to? 🙂

  5. Summer Moon

    Awesome post! I’m trying to get caught up on my blog reading as I’ve slowed quite a bit lately. So, I just finished reading Eileen’s post that you refer to, and then I came to your blog and saw the same issue brought up again. I love how you add even more reflection to the reflection that was already stimulated by Eileen’s post. As I commented on her post, I can’t seem to get myself to sit and clear my mind of thought. I can’t get to that meditation level that I need to reach the calmness that is discussed. But, what you just showed me in your post is that maybe I am reaching it in some ways, without even realizing just how much. One in particular is when I enter my fantasy world. I enter a completely different world when I go there, and my ego indeed disappears. My worries of how I’ll look or what people will think disappear, and are replaced by my carefree existence in my world. As I use that example in my life, and as I look at what you and Eileen discuss, it adds even more clarity to it all. As I read both posts, I kept looking at meditation and allowing the ego to disappear in a different context. But, now I can see it differently.

    I kind of wonder if writing is that for me too. When I blog, it’s usually a lot of thinking going into it as I’m going back in time and reliving various experiences of which I want to describe. However, when I sit down and do creative writing. I enter into a state where I just go. I catch myself stopping my mind from writing some things, due to fears of what others will think. But, my therapist has been helping me with that. She has been trying to help me learn to just always let myself write and go with the flow. To stop myself is to refrain from my inner self coming out. I guess that’s my “true self” as you describe. So, I guess when I allow myself to write and just allow my ideas to fly free, that I’m giving myself the ability to meditate in a way. It’s a way to escape from my ego and let my true self take control.

    I think I’m probably rambling here. But, I think overall that need to start looking at this in different ways than I always have. Thanks for the great post! 🙂

    Reply
    1. rachelmiller1511 Post author

      That’s exactly it- the inner self is the same as the true self.

      My own fantasy world is where the thoughts stop for me too. Meditation is the more formal way of detaching from our thoughts, but I’ve since learned that meditation comes in many forms- through the different activities listed in my post, and in many other ways. I guess this could be described as living in the flow, more than meditation. It’s so great that you can see that you’re reaching this state of “not thinking” through these other activities. A friend of mine says she finds meditation almost impossible because she can’t switch off. But she switches off when gardening! Everyone is different and I think the more we do of these activities, which allow us to detach from the ego, the better!

      Thanks for spending time reading Summer, I really appreciate that you give some thought to what I’ve written, it means a lot. Hope you have a great day xxx

      Reply
  6. woody

    For your self and other readers of this article, i recommend watch the movie revolver. it is a guy richie film that never picked up too much steam for some reason, this film introduced me to what the ego really is, thankfully, because mine was out of control, although i have to say i started to question it without knowing about it after watching american history x. the line in that movie when the teacher asks, “has anything you’ve done or fought for improved your life” ( i dont think thats the exact quote…but close) made me pose that question to my self. while in the movie the circumstance was extreme, it is a very good question to become ego aware, but any way i just wanted to recommend revolver, it comes off as a gangsta flick at first but trust me it’s amazing. thank you for your write, im trying to work with my wife on this because we’re planning on kids so she stopped taking prosac, and i can see now that its not a chemical inbalace, her ego is massively out of control, i know this post is old and i just found it on google so i dont know if you progressed on this topic, but im going to continue to work with my wife to see if self awareness can cure her clinical depression. and i sure it’s hopeful…..but seriously..revolver:)

    Reply
    1. rachelmiller1511 Post author

      Hi Woody,

      Sorry for the late reply.

      Glad the movies have helped you to pose these questions. I must admit, movies have a huge influence on me and my favourites are always those that make me think about my life from a new perspective. I have seen American History X, but it was a long time ago. (I’m a bit of an Ed Norton fan!). Haven’t see Revolver though.

      It’s so great that you are aware of the ego and how it can affect our lives, and that you are working with your wife through the tough times with her depression. Keep positive and know that she is strong enough to get through it! Being our true selves is so important and allowing our creative, fun side a new lease of life. My aim is to be free from worrying about other people’s opinions of my life and choices. It’s a work in progress.

      Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to add your thoughts.

      Rachel

      Reply
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  9. K

    I love the examples you gave of what the ego might want you to believe: e.g. “You should think more of others, not yourself, you selfish”. It is almost paradoxical. And isn’t it egoistic for you to want things for yourself? Shouldn’t you be a person that does not need anything because you are trying not to get attached to anything, you are supposed to be spiritual?

    I’ve been thinking about this lately myself. Ego-death, in my embryonic understanding, does not imply being a monk, and not wanting a house, respect, financial success, comfort etc. But it could be more about the ability to see beyond the thoughts in relation to the listed desires without getting swayed by them.

    Reply
    1. rachelmiller1511 Post author

      Thanks for your comment K. Apologies for the delay in replying. I agree that ego-death doesn’t necessarily mean we do not desire a comfortable life. I think it’s when we take these things too far and begin to ‘worship’
      the ‘material’ that they become a problem, which is what I think you mean? I think there is a healthy balance.

      Reply
  10. eunnnicecorn

    Hi, I really appreciate this post. Thanks for diving deep into the self, it really hits a personal spot for me and enlightened my understanding of how to handle the ego when dealing with anxiety/depression. 😬

    Reply

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