If there is a single issue that lies at the heart of all of our struggle, both personally and as a species, it’s the relationship between the ego and soul. They are the two polarities of your consciousness. Which one you act from makes all the difference.
The ego is the conscious representation of your individual self, while the soul is your personal connection to the larger whole. Both are vital, and each plays a part in everything we do. But their focus and motives are quite different. Staying aware of their strengths, limitations, and what they manifest in the world can change the quality of your life. On a larger scale, this awareness also holds the key to humanity becoming a sustainable species.
With that, let’s take a look at each in more detail.
I’m not talking about Freud’s Ego here. Nor is this some narcissistic personality trait, though that can be a pathological extension of it.
The ego is simply the conscious representation of our individual, mortal selves. It sees us as separate from the rest of the world. It also views other people and beings as separate entities.
The ego’s main job is to keep us alive and safe from immediate danger, both physically and psychologically. When you get hangry and short with people until you get something in your stomach, that’s an instance of the ego taking over at the expense of your connections. The same thing happens when you feel threatened or scared and act from that place.
The ego is very focused on itself, and believes it has all of the answers. When it is empowered, that’s when we see narcissism and self centered pursuits at the expense of all else. It believes in it’s own power at the expense of everything else, as it leaves the rest of the world in it’s wake.
Most cultural entities, being businesses, politicians or political campaigns and platforms, military extensions, and just about everything that runs on profit and power above all else, are egoic in nature. That filters down to the people, and shapes the culture we’re all immersed in. As that goes unchecked, the dangers of our time will escalate.
The ego is quite fragile, though. People who act mainly from ego do so because they are hurt, scared, or otherwise insecure. It is terrified of change, especially unexpected ones. It wants everything to stay pretty much the same but with more of, or better than, what it has now.
Physical death is the ultimate transformation that we humans go through and the end of the line for the ego. So it tends to associate change with death. It will avoid risk and vulnerability as much as possible to try to keep you “safe.” This keeps you, and your world, small and self centered.
The ego has incredible power. It’s the part of you that translates your internal thoughts into reality. It thinks, plans, strategizes, and talks to manipulate the world around you, including other people, to align with its desires.
It is the forceful part of your consciousness. It believes it has all the answers and is always right. It holds tightly to these beliefs, even when they conflict with reality, others’ views, even your own feelings.
The ego craves external rewards and validation. It concerns itself with judgment and consequences, both real and imagined. It relishes things like status, wealth, praise, and power.
The ego is not bad in itself. Everyone has an ego and needs it to survive. When used correctly, it even helps us achieve our highest purpose in life. But when the ego is driving the ship, it’s limiting at best. It’s exceptionally destructive when unchecked and even encouraged, as modern society promotes.
Ego-based desires can never be fulfilled, so it will always want more. You can’t be too safe. Problems, challenges, and perspectives will always arise, so it will plan and strategize and constantly strive for more. When it gets more, it will believe it deserves to use what it has. It will become wasteful and disregard others’ needs. As it builds itself up on external rewards and validation, it keeps striving, taking on greater conquests, and the cycle repeats. That’s all the ego really knows how to do, after all.
People can go on like this for their entire lives while living in an existential void. Modern society almost exclusively appeals to egoic gratification, as it was built on this foundation. This all has us on the verge of destroying vital ecosystems on a global scale, and ourselves right along with it, as the ego continues to do what it does.
To keep the ego in check, we need more soul.
Soul is the timeless, infinite piece of our consciousness. It is your personal link to the universal powers that created you, and lives in the wild world all around us. Every living being has a soul, and it’s the inherent personal connection to all of that.
Creativity, awe, love, and beauty abound when soul flows through us. When you are in a state of flow, that’s soul moving you. It speaks through awareness, feelings, visions, and dreams rather than thought. It moves through you as you open to it, often in unexpected ways rather than something you force into your life.
Soul lives in the unique, ever-changing intersection of time and space we know as the here and now, or the present moment. It is our essence, always changing and evolving. The rest is just what the ego thinks you are.
Soul doesn’t take hold of us as the ego does. It guides you when you release the ego’s grip on your consciousness. You accept what is as life unfolds. You can tap into soul at any time by finding presence, appreciation, and love. That’s when the path shows itself in unique, wild ways.
Living from soul is far more happy, peaceful, and sustainable than living in an egocentric way. The best place to practice living from a place of soul, well, you probably already know what I’m going to say next…
The most direct way to get into a place of soul is to get out into wild nature. When we immerse ourselves in the larger web of life, our consciousness goes there too. It takes a bit of time and intention to get out of our everyday head space and sink into that deeper consciousness, but you can feel it almost immediately just by getting to these places.
We have been immersed in the natural world through almost our entire evolutionary history, going back to the origins of life. We were built atomically, energetically, cellularly, and physically, in constant connection with it. And we feel and respond to it in ways our human-made world can’t replicate.
It’s easy to find deep happiness and satisfaction in the little things here, even when things don’t go how we planned. Profound realizations that unlock entirely new perspectives come to you, often without even trying. You find peace, and you see what commonly gets in your way of it. You can check in with and recognize your deeper values more clearly. And you move through your personal development naturally.
Whether we continue to act as self-serving individuals (ego) or as unique beings in an interconnected world (soul) will determine our future.
Ultimately, you are simultaneously a separate individual living your unique life and you’re part of an interconnected world. Your life, in essence, is the expression of the relationship between your ego and your soul. The moment they cease being in relationship (when your ego ceases to function and the soul goes back to the eternal) is the moment of your death.
You don’t need to lose your ego forever to allow it to flow through you. You actually can’t. You just need a healthy relationship with it to live life well, to help alter the world and our culture.
Life rooted in a deep intention is when the ego is guided by soul. That’s how to best honor people, the planet, and yourself.
How you choose to live your life is up to you. If you want to live more through soul, Evolve Wild is happy to help you with that.
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