Thousands of years ago the earth was the center of the universe. Hundreds of years ago the earth was flat. Today, we know both of these things to be false given what we have discovered about our world and the solar system. However, when people first started bringing the idea forward that what people believed about the earth being flat or the center of the universe was false, they were met with extreme resistance and were considered to be crazy. Regardless of the fact that today we might laugh at these ideas because we know them to be false, back then it was so heavily believed and engrained into people’s minds. You could say there is a striking resemblance between what was happening during those times and what is happening now with those who are awakening to what is really going on here on earth.
Truth passes through three phases: First it is ridiculed. Second it is fiercely and violently opposed. Third, it becomes self-evident.
— Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer’s quote perfectly brings light to the truth of how humans often operate when beliefs or world views are challenged. Simple ridicule to brush off new ideas is often phase one, as at this point the new beliefs are not seen as much of a threat. Then new ideas or beliefs are violently opposed as the weight and truth of them becomes more evident. The idea of having to change ones world view becomes more prominent and fear sets in. Finally, when all is clear and proven beyond any reasonable doubt, the truth that was once so heavily opposed and ridiculed is revealed as self-evident. Why does this happen?
To understand this process we have to look no further than the human ego. The word ego is often associated with one’s sense of pride or vanity for themselves. While these characteristics do come from the ego, the ego is more than that. The ego is a false sense of self that we believe to be who we are. Any idea of identity or concept about who we are, is ego. This means ego often turns up in how we choose to act, think of ourselves and others, how we dress, our emotions etc. The ego can also be seen as a protective layer that separates us from everyone else. While this protection is not necessary, to the ego it is its means of defending itself from the differences of others. When you look at yourself in the mirror and think you need to change something about your appearance, it is your ego. When you feel you are not worthy of something, it is your ego. When you walk down the street and judge another person for their actions or clothing choices, it is your ego. Many of the thoughts that keep you thinking and out of the moment are a result of our egos.
You might be realizing how this is all relating to our initial statement of why we get mad when others challenge what we believe in. You may have already come to the conclusion that technically, WE do not get mad, our ego does. How do we know it is our ego? It’s simple. The information presented, or information we believe in, is not us. Our ego has taken that information and formulated an identity around it. When the information is challenged or attacked, we feel like we are being attacked and so we get upset. This is the egos way of defending itself and in essence, enslaving us. When someone attacks our favorite sports team or band, we get mad because we have created an identity around being a fan. As we now know, this is not who we truly are and it is not US being attacked. This same understanding can be applied to almost anything including religions, beliefs, clothing, hobbies, information etc. None of these things are us.
Steps to Un-Identifty With Ego
1. Remember that information is not you. When you are feeling attacked, observe your anger or discomfort developing. Observing is a great first step to see how things are working within you. If starting with yourself is tough, observe it in another first. Be sure not to judge them but instead simply observe what happens as emotions take control during the process.
2. Once you have observed how you react, make a conscious effort to notice that you are the observing being beyond the mind, the thoughts and the identity with the information. While this sounds profound, it is a simple realization that you had control over reacting and getting upset. Thus you, a separate entity, had control over the ego, which is not you. This realization is a big step in removing ego identity.
3. Continue to practice remaining conscious during these times without letting the ego take over again. As you continue to remain conscious, you will break the habit of ego identification and will be unfazed while others are challenging or attacking information you might believe in. Ultimately, this allows you to see truth behind information much more easily than when we are blinded by the ego.