Who’s Driving: Ego or Higher Self?

Huffington Post - Social Media and Inspirational LeadershipLast Wednesday, I had the great honor of being profiled on Huffington Post in a joint post between two series on Twitter Powerhouses and Meaningful Leaders. It’s absolutely amazing to me, since the article profiled some truly established leaders, including the Lieutenant Governor of California, Gavin Newsom. We were selected because of our “record of leading by example and laying the foundation for our collective greatness. Impressive in every way.”

As this piece of news sank in, an interesting series of reactions unfolded, challenging me to discern what came from my ego vs. my Higher Self. As I reflect on this experience, I decide to let it be a case to talk about recognizing who’s in the driver seat—ego or Higher Self.

Ego Reactions

You’d think that a piece of news like this would be a total ego boost, the kind that could give someone a big head. While that may be a common ego reaction, such was not my experience in this case. For a few moments after receiving the news, I was indeed very excited. But the elation was short-lived. Before long, all kinds of doubtful thoughts started flooding my mind and bringing me down. What does this really mean anyway? Who am I to be featured alongside all these “real” leaders and other “true” Twitter Powerhouses with tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of followers? I felt like an imposter. My unworthiness wire was tripped. I was gripped by these limiting reactions until later when I was able to ground myself again.

I bet some of you are just about ready to reach through the computer screen and wring my neck for raining on my own parade! I also bet that some of you are nodding your head, because what my ego/inner critic said sounds like the kinds of things yours would say to you if you were in my shoes. I’m not proud of these reactions, but am choosing to share my less than glamorous ego experience here, so that we can have an open and honest dialogue about how easily ego takes over, especially in unusual moments.

Reflections From My Higher Self

blue hearts

When I did my New Year’s Eve visioning practice to prepare for 2013, the central message to me was to be a leader. Accordingly, I had set an intention for the year to embrace this call. Just the day prior to the Huffington Post news, I talked to my mastermind group about the need to get out more to share what I do. I simply can’t help those who don’t know I exist or how I can help them. Being profiled as a leader on Huffington Post is a reminder to step up and be the leader I was called to be.

Moreover, being publicly recognized for “leading by example” validates that what I’ve been doing authentically from my heart is hitting the mark. I *am* seen as the embodiment of the message I’ve been trying to share—one tweet at a time, one post at a time. When I started becoming active on Twitter in November 2011, I didn’t aspire to position myself as a leader. Rather, I was a complete novice chipping away at the Divine assignment I’ve accepted to be a voice of personal empowerment and a messenger of Love. Social media would simply provide a virtual platform for me to carry out my mission.

Upon getting over myself, I could hear my Self. When I was able to recognize that ego was in the driver seat, I could allow my Higher Self to take the steering wheel instead. Being recognized as an inspirational leader on social media isn’t an ego trip. Instead, it’s a validation that I’m on the right track and to keep going. More importantly, it’s a reminder to accept the responsibility as a leader to serve in a bigger way.

Recognizing Ego

hidingWith my experience outlined above, let me close this article with a few summary points on recognizing when ego is in the driver seat. (For more on discerning between ego and intuitive wisdom, see “Who’s Talking?” Parts One and Two.)

  1. Ego keeps us small, and often shames us into hiding. Ego’s sole mission is to keep us safe and away from risking failure or rejection, which, unfortunately, often involves keeping us playing small. This isn’t to be confused with the discomfort we feel when being stretched to grow, as there’s a higher good to be served by allowing ourselves to be stretched out of our comfort. By contrast, when ego wants us to go into hiding for any reason, it doesn’t serve us or anyone.
  2. Ego is all about me. Ego is our “little me” vs. our Higher Self. This point isn’t to be confused with owning our power and serving with it, which is the domain of our Higher Self. When ego is driving—introducing thoughts like Who am I to…? or Who do I think I am?—no one benefits. When we step into our power and do good with it, it isn’t about us. Rather, it’s about getting over ourselves—our “little me”—in order to serve others and a greater good.
  3. Ego feeds on fear. If we feel like we need to (not) do something out of fear, ego is most likely in the driver seat. That is, if we (don’t) do something, we risk being abandoned, rejected, replaced—any measure of having safety taken away from us. Instead, when action comes from our Higher Self, it’s inspired by Love to serve a higher purpose. Again, even if it may stretch our comfort, we ultimately feel good about what’s to be done, not because we feel obliged or ingratiated to act, or fear we won’t remain popular or in demand.

Over to you: How do you discern who’s in the driver seat—ego or Higher Self? What do you do when you recognize that ego is in the driver seat? Would love for you to share in the comment box below for our collective learning.

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Photo credit: Huffington Post and http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

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About Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Dr. Alice Chan is passionate about developing conscious leaders and organizations. Her path to serve her life purpose has included being an award-winning Cornell professor and a leader in the corporate world for nearly 15 years. She’s the author of the book, REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life, and creator of the program, 30 Days to Living Your Best Life. All content on this blog and website is her own, not the opinions of her employer.

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16 comments
And3
And3

When I feel my ego is in the driver seat, it's when I'm about to make a decision and the fear of what I might be to the eyes of others and what I would become in the future, if that's the best for me or not, the fear of not be what I really want.Also when I'm talking to another person and I try to suck their energy talking about things (material things) to make myself feel better than them....it really sucks to try to feel that way when all of we are infinite in the energy spectrum. Thanks for everything you share with us Alice...keep going!  

Deone_Higgs
Deone_Higgs

A HUGE CONGRATS to you, Alice! I am so very proud of you, my sister! I can only imagine how excited you must have been upon finding out this wonderful news, and I'm sure the excitement is running over. I know it would be if it were me. You certainly deserved this awesome honor, and so much more! In the short time of having gotten to know you, your spirit has shun through online, more brilliant than the brightest of stars. This only let's me know that you, my friend, are a rising star; one that I am grateful to have met. I truly hope this is only the beginning of the goodness that's in store for you. Keep on producing the awesomeness, beloved. I believe there's even more that awaits you on your horizon. You've inspired me in so many ways with this post, and your being profiled. Thank you. :) Please know that I celebrate your awesomeness! Much love, blessings, and peace.  <3

ariakabirgmailcom
ariakabirgmailcom

Hi Alice,

Congratulation on the wonderful job that you are doing.  I think it is so awesome that you are thinking about everything and that you are successful and humble.  It is very difficult to balance that.  I have known and worked with a lot of successful people who are about themselves and their ego.  Thanks for sharing.  I know that you will go a long way with being humble.  I have to learn from you how to do that in my life.

scott_elumn8
scott_elumn8

Congratulations Alice. I felt all sorts of happiness for you. I think that was my higher self. :) You are on the right path and you are making a difference. Great reminders about the role ego plays in how we experience our lives and interact with others.

Samantha_S_Hall
Samantha_S_Hall

Another wonderful share Alice!

 

A great big congratulations are in order for being honored on the Huffington Post!  And YES! I know what 'they' say.  'We shall not be swayed by neither criticism or praise.'  Well I'm here to say sometimes sincere praise and validation is NEEDED and goes a long way! haha YOU GO GIRL!!!! As Marianne Williamson says, we don't need to make ourselves small and hide our light so that other people aren't uncomfortable.  Like stars that shine in the nighttime sky, the only thing we need to be concerned with is allowing our light to shine just as you are doing!

 

Now... you know I could add more to this comment.  (grins) Today, I'm going to leave it as it is.  : )

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lori
Lori

Alice, First, congratulations on being profiled on the Huffington Post! I think my ego would have a field day with that! I love how you're shared your thought process about it and used to to clarify for us and for yourself who is in the driver's seat.

 

I'm never able to get very clear on this ego thing. If you rename it "fear" I've got it. But it seems a conundrum to me. Maybe we need more words to clarify it. I see how your struggle led you to conclude that this wasn't an ego trip but validation. Maybe we can just listen to the ego for a few seconds, take the message (in this case - yay!) and then interpret it as validation and move back into the heart. Ego isn't all bad - but it shouldn't be behind the wheel. Maybe we can think of it as a backseat driver? 

Lori

Latest blog post: How Do You Manage Grief?

donnamerrilltribe
donnamerrilltribe

How true this reaction is!  That "critic" will always chime in during these times of stepping up.  But as long as we acknowledge it is our "critic" we can deal with the reality.  Working with our higher selves opens many doors and we just have to do as you did.  REALIZE what we set out do to in the first place.

As I read your post I had to chuckle to myself because I had the same reactions at times.  But as long as we take control of that and not allow our critic to get in our way, we are OK!  BTW  Congratulations....you deserve your day in the spotlight!

Donna Merrill

ThinDifference
ThinDifference

First, congratulations! Celebrating moments of recognition is important, as long as they don't become the drivers in life. As you rightly point out, ego keeps us small. By keeping focused on our higher calling, we understand more growth is always required, more actions are always needed. We can never become stale, and ego can make us be happy with where we are rather than where we are going or need to go. Great points made, Alice! Grateful for your presence and your continuing work! Jon

DrAliceChan
DrAliceChan moderator

 @And3 Thank you for sharing your authentic words! It's a very common ego reaction for us to worry about how others may receive us and wanting to be liked, and we end up spending a lot of energy managing our facade instead of being true. However, you *do* recognize that we are infinite beings, and it's that awareness that helps us minimize our ego reactions. You already know it. Just need to remember, like the rest of us do. Thank you again for sharing!

DrAliceChan
DrAliceChan moderator

 @Deone Higgs Many thanks for your very kind words, Deone! As I wrote in this post, I take this wonderful recognition as a sign that I'm doing the right thing to fulfill my mission--and I'll keep going. It's great to have met fellow travelers like yourself on our respective paths to serve while continuing to tend to our own growth, awakening and deepening. Good to have you on the path, brother, and sending love, peace and blessings to you as well.

DrAliceChan
DrAliceChan moderator

 @ariakabirgmailcom Thank you for your kind words, Aria! Ego is an unavoidable part of our human experience. However, we can learn to be mindful of not letting ego take control. That's why having a spiritual practice is important, as it raises our consciousness. That's why I feel it's important for me to be willing to get into the fishbowl here to share my experience with recognizing ego reactions and consciously shifting away from them.

DrAliceChan
DrAliceChan moderator

 @scott_elumn8Thanks, Scott! Congratulations from your higher self, lower self, or any part of you in between is greatly appreciated. ;-) This was an interesting experience for me, and a reminder that my Higher Self knows what's right. The doubt comes from ego, and this will be the case as long as I'm human. So, back in the fishbowl I came to share lessons learned. Thank you for taking a moment to help me celebrate a timely validation!

 

DrAliceChan
DrAliceChan moderator

 @Samantha_S_Hall Many thanks, Samantha! As I just responded to @Lori, it's indeed important to celebrate our wins. In order to own our power and use it for good, we need to become comfortable being in the spotlight, which is clearly something I need to do. All the more reason to beware of my ego/inner critic scaring me into retreating again. Yes, I do know you're a deep thinker, so I'm sure there are more unspoken layers to your thoughts on this subject. :-) Thanks again, Samantha!

DrAliceChan
DrAliceChan moderator

 @Lori Thank you, Lori, both for the congratulations and for taking the time to add your insights here! First, on the "yay!" part, yes, very important for us to acknowledge and celebrate wins. I'm not always good about that, but it's really important, lest we take things for granted and perpetuate the inherent negativity bias hardwired in our brain.

 

Regarding the ego conundrum, it has been called the "inner critic," "inner judge," "the committee" (as ego can have different "personality" and voices), etc. I can say much, much more about this (and I had in a previous post and when I give talks), ego/inner critic essentially has the sophistication of a 5-year-old, because that's the age by which we've acquired most of our limiting beliefs and thoughts that continue to run automatically in our subconscious mind. So, we most certainly don't want to let it drive, not even in the backseat! However, for as long as we're human, ego will be part of our humanness.

 

In any event, thanks again for adding your insights and prompting further thoughts on this conversation, Lori! Much appreciated!

DrAliceChan
DrAliceChan moderator

 @donnamerrilltribe Thank you, Donna! I was pretty sure that others would resonate with my experience, and that's part of the reason for getting myself into the fishbowl here to talk about my less-than-proud moments. It's all part of being human we need to honor, while at the same time choosing consciously to shift away from that to following our Higher Self to continue on our calling to serve a higher purpose. Great to have you join the discussion, Donna, and thank you for your congratulatory remarks! :-)

DrAliceChan
DrAliceChan moderator

 @ThinDifference

Many thanks, Jon! You're absolutely right about the need for celebration, lest we risk taking things for granted. And, you're also right on in terms of continuous growth and action toward our higher purpose. The day we stop is the day it's time to transition back to where we came from. As long as we're human, ego will be there. We just need to be conscious of not letting it drive our lives. Appreciate your adding your conviction and insights to this discussion!

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  1. […] Read the entire article here: Who’s Driving: Ego or Higher Self? […]

  2. […] Alice Chan offers up her own personal experience regarding the two in her blog post entitled “Who’s Driving: Ego or Higher Self”…and she reveals ways to determine who’s talking in her:  “Who’s Talking? […]

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