The ego and how to identify with it less

In this episode we’re talking all about the ego and how the practice of identifying with it less, and noticing when it’s the one in the driver’s seat has been helpful for us. We talk a bit about the ego in Yoga philosophy, and offer some ideas for ways to begin developing awareness around how it’s showing up in your own life.

  • Our experiences of being driven by ego in our work and lives
  • How the ego wants to keep us safe and connected to the way we fit into society
  • The dangers of over identifying with an identity
  • Disconnecting from our ego

Ellen talked about The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, you can find this here.

Kate mentioned an exercise from Tara Mohr’s book, Playing Big, you can find that here.

Curious about our new Collaborative Coaching offer? Read more about it here, or book a free curiosity call with us here.

Click here to sign up to our newsletter to receive regular letters to support you on your path to living a life connected to yourself, those around you and the natural world. 

Want to get in touch? Email us at hello@thegood-space.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Listen Now

You can listen to this episode by searching for Create Shift wherever you get your podcasts, or listen in your browser below. If you’re enjoying this podcast please consider taking a moment to leave us a rating and review, and to share the episode with a friend. 

Thanks for listening! 

Ellen and Kate x

The ego and how to identify with it less

[00:00:00] Ellen: Welcome to Create Shift where we have conversations to encourage and inspire positive change hosted by me. Ellen Carr, 

[00:00:11] Kate: and me Kate Banks, together we run The Good Space, a place for alternative learning and radical wellbeing. 

[00:00:17] Ellen: If you’re ready to rip up the rules and create a life in which you can thrive, then this is the podcast for you.

Hello, welcome back to another episode of Create Shift. Thank you very much for being here. Welcome if you’re new. In this episode, we’re talking about ego, such a big thing, and I’m pretty much going to let us just dive right into it. Um, it’s, it’s a really important topic, I think to look at, especially when we’re looking at living a life that feels kind of more peaceful, more content, more connected to our true selves. Uh, the ego is a really big part of yoga philosophy. And I, I do share a little bit of that in this episode, but it again, can get a little bit, uh, of a lot, so we don’t go deeply into all of that, but we do touch on it. So I hope this is interesting for you and I hope it just kind of provides maybe some further thought for you, some journaling. Okay. I’d love to hear how you find it and what comes up from it for you. So feel free to reach out to us on email at hello@thegood-space.com as always feel free to connect with us through our newsletter. You can sign up at www.thegood-space.com and we are here for you if you want to be more supported on your journey to a life, more connected to yourself, to others and to the world around you.

Um, we are here for collaborative coaching, if you want to be supported in that way. So take a look at our collaborative coaching page on our website. If you want to find out more and you can book a free curiosity call, if you are curious. So we’d love to hear from you. I’ll put all the links to these things in the show notes and enjoy the episode.

I’m curious. What kind of notes have you got for this one? 

[00:02:02] Kate: Going straight in with that one? Yes.

Um, so when I was thinking about the ego, um, I was mainly thinking about the ego in our business and our work, and then thinking also about ego in our lives and how we act as well. And I think what it came down to is what are we making this mean? Why are we doing the stuff we’re doing? Um, because so often we get caught up in. Are we doing things the right way? Are we, you know, we we’ve been taught doing the things, the right things in the right way, it makes us successful. So what happens if we don’t do that? What happens if we fail or we deter from the path or, you know, something different happens, we take a different choice.

How does that impact our feelings around our success. And how do we get to that point of detaching from those feelings and those beliefs, rather than sitting in the ego and wanting to kind of control and create the right thing? 

[00:03:10] Ellen: Um, yeah, so I, I was interested in this topic because it’s something that I’ve been thinking about recently.

And I started before this, I got like a bunch of books out and I was like, oh, I’ve got to find all the quotes. And I was putting my ego, actually got to go to seem like I know all this stuff. Um, it’s a big part of yoga philosophy. Um, and I’ve got, I mean, there’s, there’s a lot that you can go into with that.

It’s like an entire course, probably. So, um, and also I was, I was going to Eckhart Tolle here, is it Tolle or Tolle(y)? Do you know, I’ve heard people say both. I should really just listen to him saying his own name, um, The Power Of Now. And, um, he talks a lot about ego in there and, and certainly about how, um, Uh, fear, uh, yeah, fear, um, and just be the ego that being afraid of losing the identity.

And I guess it’s, it’s that part that really interests me and not, I guess, in relation to our work as well. And in relation to what we’ve been talking about in our previous episode. So we talked about, the idea of values and how they can shift and like that letting your outsides match your insides. And we’ve talked a lot about how we need to allow ourselves to change as people. And I feel like it is the over identification with ego that can stop that from happening? Um, I suppose. 

[00:04:51] Kate: Yeah, I guess it’s, that’s wanting to stay on the right path and be doing the things that we’re taught. That we should be doing. Cause that’s kind of there’s, you know, just thinking about if you’re going to launch products or something, there’s always, you know, a formula almost to that you do certain things to make it succeed.

And there’s lots of instances of that in our lives, where we told you, you do these certain things in a certain order and that’s, what’s going to make you successful and having the courage to step away from that and do things in your own way. And to detach from the outcome. I think it’s quite a radical step for a lot of people.

[00:05:33] Ellen: Yeah. And I think there’s a lot of sort of safety involved in it. Like the ego wants to keep us safe and connected to this, uh, way that we fit in. And I think also there’s a lot about the identity that we create for ourselves. And I think that can be really problematic. Um, so. I’ve thought for a while about, about the phrase, all that’s not like you and why?

I don’t think we use it. Um, because I think it’s really unhelpful. Like, oh, you’ve done this. That’s not like you. And then that reinforces that we’ve got this set identity that we are this person, we are a person who does this and not a person who does that. And therefore we can never change. And it’s sort of like what you were saying in the values episode of like value seem to you like the pillars they’re set, they’re solid.

Um, rather than maybe anchors that are anchoring us at a certain point on our journey. And then we move and we get the different, or the fireflies that you follow, um, to go on a different path. And, and so I feel like. When we, the ego likes to is all about how we present to the outside world, right.

About, about, you know, I’m the sort of person who wears this kind of clothing, or I am the sort of person who does my hair, these sorts of colors, or I’m the sort of person who likes this music and does this sort of thing. Um, and I think this is really interesting and was why I wanted to do this episode after the episode we just recorded before, um, that we’ve, you know, we released before this one about, um, making your outsides match your insides because it’s like, and this is why I think it’s really interesting because I think that stuff is great and necessary for our society, however, um, and, and for us to live good lives.

However, if we over identify with that with like, oh, I’ve done this one thing now to make my outsides match my insights, but actually, and now at this other point in my life, that’s not feeling right. I’m feeling not going to do this thing, or it feels necessary to do this thing. If the ego is holding onto that identity, then we don’t allow ourselves to move and change.

[00:07:43] Kate: And it’s an interesting thing about the identity and safety, isn’t it? Because we either create this identity or we’re given this identity and it becomes a safe space for us, and it’s not necessarily a safe space for us or a healthy space for us to be, but it often when it’s something that we’ve known for a long time, that seems like the safe space and moving away from that, it is very scary, there’s some real risks involved. 

[00:08:09] Ellen: Well, uh, well I think this is the thing, and obviously not again, I was thinking through The Power Of Now and I’ve dog-eared almost every page was trying to look for a quote, let me be clever and share a quote, but no, um, but I think you say real risks actually are they? The ego perceives them as real risks. 

[00:08:29] Kate: Yeah. So they are, they risks to our ego aren’t they? So, you know, it’s, it’s fearing, you know, rejection and disappointment and failure. Those things that are really big things for our ego. 

[00:08:43] Ellen: And it’s, it’s, it’s loss of sense of self. And I guess this is where the yoga philosophy comes into it is that this idea that actually there’s a, there’s a separate self that is more, um, connected or that is, that is the same as the universal consciousness. And, um, I’m not going to get too much into that because there are also different branches of yoga philosophy that say different things. But, uh, there, there is a similarity with what Eckhart Tolle says that the ego, when it’s in it’s kind of not helpful states is over identifying with the observed things.

You know, with the belongings that I’ve got, you know, uh, I’m the kind of person who has crystals in my house. So I do this or like, yeah, anything like that. And I guess, like we can see in an extreme example, how that’s unhelpful when it’s in the case of say, um, somebody who commits crimes when they’re young or somebody who, uh, uses drugs, um, or is addicted to drugs or alcohol that over identification, this allows change.

And that’s the extreme, but actually that can happen to all of us to be like, yeah, I’m this kind of person. So I can’t do that. Actually I can. Yeah. 

[00:10:12] Kate: And what would be your tips for disconnecting from the ego from having that detachment? 

[00:10:18] Ellen: I don’t know. (laughs) 

[00:10:21] Kate: Isn’t there a five step program we could recommend here? (laughs) So what’s helped you?

[00:10:34] Ellen: It’s pretty hard. It’s really hard. That’s like, I don’t, I’m not going to pretend to be like, do these things and then you’ll be fine. They’re really hard. Um, and I, I love, I love identifying with this. That’s the thing, like, sometimes I love being like, look at me, I’m a theatre person, it’s really cool.

And then. I guess it’s humbling to, to then realize. Yeah, but I could just completely let that go. And that’s not actually me. So I, I guess it was as with everything, it’s just an awareness. 

[00:11:12] Kate: Yeah. And I think the flexibility as well, because as you’re saying, you know, you choose one day that you’re going to identify as the theatre you, and another day, you’re going to identify as something else. And it’s allowing that transition and the flexibility to tap into what’s feeling good right now and take what bits you need. 

[00:11:32] Ellen: And I think it’s like, I think it is a case of having that awareness and that separation. And I suppose what is really helpful with this is meditation practice, because you’ve got that separation between the seer and the scene, and you can step into those different roles. You practice observing yourself. Um, so that when you are, for example, choosing an identity that you want for the day.

And I really liked that and I know it can sound, you know, we’ve got a lot of stigma, I guess, in our society around like people with, like saying, choosing an identity you want today, might make people think that like your mentally unstable or whatever, but actually, like, I believe that we do, we, we are different people in different circumstances with different people.

Like we have so many different facets of ourselves, like a diamond, right. And we choose the light that’s shining on the certain part will shine a certain part outright, whatever. And we might really enjoy, like you said, like I could be the theatre person one day and the next I could be a yoga person or like I just spend the two or I could really go in on like one thing or like I’m feeling really playful and silly today.

And I’m going to, where you go in on that, and that’s lovely and I’m enjoying it. And at the same time, then when you have that awareness and that practice, you can kind of hold that knowledge and be like, but this isn’t actually me. Like it is me and how I present to the world and how I can present self. And it’s a facet of how I present myself, but also I know there’s another part of myself that is just kind of, god it’s however you want to think of it isn’t it, like soul or universal energy or, um, what does Abraham Hicks say? I don’t remember.

However you want to think of that. I’m not saying that you have to think of it as a divine thing, or like as a, as a necessarily super spiritual thing. But I suppose this is a spiritual practice of connecting to the sense of oneness whilst maintaining individuality. 

[00:14:02] Kate: It’s such a tricky concept, isn’t it, to consider? Yeah. 

[00:14:06] Ellen: And so, yeah, I guess, I guess my advice is to, is to just do the practices that help you have an awareness of that, or, you know, so yoga and meditation. Well, meditation is part of the yoga practice, um, as well as. I think the whole interview of yoga practice, basically when we take it in its entirety, not just as Asana, which it has been reduced to in our society.

Well, that does help us with this. And that’s part of the aim. So it’s the studying of yoga philosophy and it’s the studying of self and it’s the journalling and it’s the meditation and that, and the Asana practice and, and, and all of that will help. Um, but I think, you know, you had a really good point when you said about sort of practically applying that in terms of work, and actions and outcome.

So that’s a real great, helpful thing. And that’s something that I’ve been thinking about recently in terms of like I’m doing extra freelance work at the moment that I sort of had to reconcile that kind of ego thing of, well, I’m really trying to make everything work through, The Good Space and through Hearth and Sea just what I do, my theater work through and actually coming to that realization that actually, no, I need to make money and that’s not all coming from these places now.

So I’m going to have to do some other things. Meant I had to let go of that ego trying to hold onto, but I therefore I’m not a successful business owner or whatever. And. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, you look really thoughtful, 

[00:15:46] Kate: No, no, I was just going to say, just reflecting back to one of our previous conversations on the podcast about tapping into those feelings and listening to what, the messages that were in those feelings.

And I think that’s a really good indication of where ego is trying to take over, trying to look at, you know, do I like my choices? Do I like what I’m doing? You know, how is it feeling. And trying to decipher where you’re making those decisions from and what other choices and options you’ve got and whether any of those feel any better for you.

And sometimes we don’t have a choice. We have to do stuff that doesn’t feel in alignment with us, but then there is so many other things where we can find that alignment and can step away from the ego. 

[00:16:35] Ellen: Yeah. I’m really tying myself in knots now in my head. Cause I cause often like the over identification was with desire and doing something because we like it can be over identification with the ego as well as it like in yoga philosophy.

Um, yeah, this is me having to said pleasure is really important. I do, like, I believe it is. And this is, this is why the different yoga philosophies do diverge. Yeah, I’ll try not to get too caught up in that. And maybe we can talk about that another time. And, but I think, yeah, it’s sort of, like you said, like looking at where a feeling is coming from can be really helpful, you know, cause sometimes I might be getting really upset about something, um, and just like.

Self-righteous or like, you know, I’m really annoyed. This thing didn’t happen for me. And like this hasn’t worked out this way and this is really frustrating cause it’s working out for everybody else and not, oh God. Now I’m going to have to go and do this other work or like, I’m going to have to do this.

And when you step back, you can realize that, well, actually that is just the ego holding onto this stuff. And like, if I did have to go and do this other job, like just for a bit, I mean, it’d be fine. And it’s, and it’s so hard because, you know, I definitely feel myself as wanting to be upset or wanting to be angry and wanting to get some, you know, somebody else who I’m talking to you saying, oh, that really sucks. And that’s so crap. And then, and it’s like, oh, if I take the higher path it’s actually fine, but at some times it’s just so hard and you don’t want to do that. 

[00:18:23] Kate: I always find there’s an exercise that Tara Mohr’s got in her book Playing Big that I really liked. And it’s along the lines of, well, what else could be true in a situation? So when, when you’re in a sticky situation, that doesn’t feel right. It’s like what else could be true? Like name, all those things like to the absolute ridiculous one. Like, write them all down. What are all the options here that could be driving what’s happening? And I find that brings a lot more neutrality to the situation.

It takes the emotion out. So you can look at it a bit more logically, and make some decisions, but also as I’m talking, I can see kind of the conversation bouncing around. I wonder whether we’re talking about perfect streams and perfects, and black and whites, and actually, maybe it’s a whole lot more like nuanced in the middle and you know, there’s no perfect solution to this and we all are beings with egos and they are going to be in the driving seat sometimes. And maybe that’s okay. And maybe it’s okay that we just notice it. And sometimes we make a different choice. 

[00:19:23] Ellen: I think you’re right. I think that’s such a good point to kind of bring up and maybe sort of bring this to a close on because yeah, it’s, I think it’s just having an awareness of it. Isn’t it? Yeah. Sometimes you do, if you’re feeling frustrated or angry and you could just be like, it’s fine. I’m totally fine. I’m not attached to any of this, but it’s also fine to just feel the annoyance and frustration or like let it out and feel it and then, and then move on and yeah, just hold it all in, in awareness and, and see what’s happening and, and make, make some conscious choices.

Sometimes go, God, this is really hard for my ego. I’m just going to look after it a little bit and then move on. Yeah. All right. Well that was. And that was kind of felt like, um, sort of conversation you’d have in the kitchen at a party. Cause all of the kind of intense conversations happen in a kitchen. I find.

So thank you for listening to our kitchen party conversation. We hope maybe it was interesting or inspiring, or at least a little curious to you, if you want to follow up on anything that we kind of discussed, just head to the show notes for the episode, and you’ll see links to things that we mentioned. Uh, if you want to get in touch, feel free to email us on hello@thegood-space.com.

Feel free to join our newsletter. If you want, uh, more engaging kitchen chats, uh, content about, uh, our journeys with, with living life, more aligned with ourselves and connected to others and, and to, to the natural world around us, it’s one of the inspiration to support you on your journey. And of course, if you are interested in being more supported on your own journey at the moment, then do head over to our website, thegood-space.com to have a look at our collaborative coaching package that we have available at the moment, we would love to work with you. It’s a very unique way of coaching, where you get coached by both of us. So Kate really working beautifully with all of the, we’re going to call mindset for want of a better word. We’re trying to figure that out. But, you know, that, that kind of stuff. And I bring in the embodied work, the holistic approach, and I know all of this yoga philosophy and Ayurveda and that kind of thing.

So if you’re curious, head over to the website to have a look. Please, do get in touch if you’ve got any questions, on the website, you can book a free 20 minute chat with us to find out more about it and if it’s right for you. And we would certainly love to speak with you and work with you if it feels right. We will leave you here for now.

Have a lovely rest of your day and we will be in your ears again soon. Thank you for listening to Create Shift. We hope you found it inspiring and supportive. 

[00:22:24] Kate: If you’re enjoying this podcast, please consider taking a moment to leave us a review and a rating, and to share the episode with a friend. 

[00:22:32] Ellen: For more from us and to sign up to our newsletter, head to thegood-space.com.