Sorting Out the Self, the Ego, and You

“I know it is ego, but…” is a phrase that is often said or written to me by clients and readers. But often what is called “ego” (personal thought system) is actually not the ego. Often it is just the personality of the self expressing itself.

Why is this important? Because in order to let go of the ego you have to see its boundaries. Otherwise you attempt to release what does not need to be released. And this can feel discordant, giving the ego an opportunity to tell you that you are being asked to sacrifice.

To recognize the ego’s boundaries you have to understand the self’s boundaries, too. The self, as I use the term, is a body and personality. It is part of the universe of form. It is the result of cause and effect at the level of form. Your particular self is the effect of what has gone before in the story of time. It has an authentic expression as part of the unfolding story of time. And it is neutral in that it is neither good nor bad. It simply is what has resulted from what has gone before.

The ego is the thought system, or way of thinking, in your mind that represents not-Truth. It is a thought system of lack, guilt, and fear. It teaches you that the self is you. It tells you to define yourself by the self and to fulfill yourself through the self’s life in the world. It teaches you that the self’s vulnerability is yours and that you need to defend the self to keep you safe. The ego uses ideas of lack, guilt, and fear to maintain your belief in it and in yourself as a self.

Who are you in this? You are a mind that is split between Truth and not-Truth. You identify with the self and the ego until you learn that you are not the self and the ego and you learn of Truth.

As an example of an authentic expression of a self, let’s say that your self desires a life-partner. In your identification with a self this feels like your desire. The desire itself is not an obstacle to you being aware of Truth. The Awareness of Truth (Holy Spirit) in your mind uses all situations as classrooms in which you learn of Truth. But if the ego in your mind tells you that you lack and that your sense of lack can only be filled if you have a life-partner then your desire for a life-partner can block you from being aware that you will only find wholeness in Truth. You can neutralize the ego, however, by deciding to use your seeking for a relationship, or your being in a relationship, as a way to learn of the Awareness of Truth. Eventually, as your awareness of Truth grows, your desire for a relationship to make you whole will be “cleansed” of the belief that it can save you. The desire for the relationship will remain a part of the self’s authentic expression, but you, as a mind, will know that you do not need to fulfill it to be fulfilled yourself.

The self’s authentic expression, motivations, desires, etc. are part of the story of Undoing in time and form. They continue as your awareness of Truth grows. You just stop defining yourself by them. You stop seeking through them for fulfillment. You observe them without judgment. The ego also continues with its stories of lack and guilt and fear, but you no longer believe them. You just observe them and their source and know that they are not real.

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If you are giving things up or have a sense of sacrifice on the path you are looking at something in the wrong way. Sorting this out is what I help my clients with. You can email me at Liz@acimmentor.com to set up an appointment. Learn more at www.acimmentor.com.


If you have a question the answer to which you think will help others email it to me at Liz@acimmentor.com and indicate that you want it answered in the newsletter/blog.

Comments

I wonder then what is the purpose of the relationship of a life partner. Are there some examples of how the Holy Spirit can use this type relationship to bring awareness of Truth. Companionship, finances, intimacy, family, fun and distraction, and security are some of the desires of the self which can be fulfilled through relationship. But not Truth. How then can the HS use relationship to the awareness of Truth?
ACIM Mentor said…
Oh, boy, yes, Jacomina, a life-partnership is useful. Probably the most useful tool. Our relationships, especially the closest ones, are the mirrors in which we see our minds reflected. So our obstacles to peace are reflected and we find what we truly believe and must undo. One example in my case was my co-dependency (guilt). There was no getting away from it in my primary relationship so it was in front of me all the time. Took years to undo.
Good. I want to undo my beliefs. My partner is always loving and consistently so yet I believe I am unlovable. Is this then how the "reflection" reflects? Without the relationship I feel fine, within the relationship I feel not worthy. Have I understood this "tool" correctly?
And was the co dependency in You or your partner? Or was it more like your partner brought it out in you. Is this how the reflector factor works?
Goodness I hope I'm not over analyzing everything and being caught up in the detail and not the message. Forgive me if that's the case. I totally appreciate tons the insights I continue to glean from you Liz. This blog just gets better and better.
ACIM Mentor said…
You have it exactly right, Jacomina. What comes up in the relationship (your feeling unlovable) reflects your beliefs. It's in you, not in your partner. Being with your partner is what brings it out. Your relationships with others is your relationship with yourself. This is why relationships are so conflicted! We face ourselves in them.

And the Holy Spirits part in this threesome of ego, self, and you? I realize the blog already addresses this. Say it again! Now that the ego's fear/guilt based belief in "I'm not lovable" is exposed...what happens?


I give the belief to the Holy Spirit and just rest.
ACIM Mentor said…
Jacomina, giving it to the HS is not passive. You have to be willing to look at and undo the underlying beliefs with the HS.

Willing and ready (and scared) for the undoing. But Willing. 100% in.

Anonymous said…
So the ego steadily gives us loads of lacks to be neutralized. In effect the ego is unknowingly providing us lessons for release from itself. However the ego surely knows that only the very few will take these gifts as lessons, but rather fulfillment of lack.. unfortunately. I recall it being said by Ken Wapnick that Jesus sees us as being one handed in that we cannot hold his hand and the ego's hand simultaneously. You cannot choose neither and you cannot choose both. Am I understanding your position correctly?
The dialogue between Jacomina and ACIM Mentor is very helpful. Thank you both.

Thank you Cairn. I'm always amazed at how Liz understands the real question being asked and then delivers such profound and helpful response.
ACIM Mentor said…
Anonymous, yes. They ego and the Holy Spirit are diametrically opposed thought systems. And you cannot be without a thought system. So when you listen to one you shut out the other. Sometimes it can seem you are simultaneously split between them, but really you are just vacillating between them quickly.
will said…
Liz,
You said "giving it to the Holy Spirit is not passive. You have to look at it and be willing to undo the underlying beliefs with the Holy Spirit."

Something that gave me a lot of uncertainty ("Am I doing this Right") was the second non-passive part, the Undoing. Are we talking psychotherapy or just talking with the Holy Spirit saying I recognize 'this' as the underlying belief? I really need to know the process in detail.
will said…
Liz,

For three days now I have been meaning to read your book on Releasing Inner Guilt which probably has the answer to my question. I forget and then something like this brings it back to my attention.
will said…
Liz,

Alright, I can see if I want DETAIL on how to undo it is in your book "Releasing Guilt For Inner Peace: A Companion to 4 Habits for Inner Peace." I am going to get the information I'm after through the book. If you wrote a book about it obviously you can't really address it on a blog. Thanks.
ACIM Mentor said…
Yes, Will, it is in RGIP, but I have also written many blogs about the process.

In answer to your earlier question it is psychotherapy but with the HS in your mind. What do you feel? What are the thoughts behind the feelings? What is the belief underpinning the thoughts? Sometimes it helps to put it in writing.
will said…
Ok I'll go through your book 'The ACIM Mentor Articles."
will said…
I can hear the groans, mine included, from what anonymous called " the loads of lack to be neutralized.". Oh well, short cuts lead to long delays.
ACIM Mentor said…
Will, I'm not sure, but I don't think you will find the process much in my articles book. More likely in the archive of this blog after the articles that are in the articles book.

Also, anyone who's interested can set up an appointment with me to learn what to do. This process is one of the tools I teach.

About the "loads" of anything to get over: What happens in this process is you drill down each time and find you come to the same place over and over. In the beginning you think each situation of lack or guilt or whatever is different because they look different. But you will learn they all lead to the same place. You have to learn this yourself, however. It's not enough for me to stand outside your mind and say, "All guilt comes from the same belief." You will find this for yourself in your own mind. Recovery speeds up each time after that.
Christine said…
"One problem, one solution", I think the the miracles list? Text book?
ACIM Mentor said…
Christine, Lesson 80 in the Workbook
will said…
Liz,

I'm realizing that sometimes I try to figure things out before I actually do them and in the process procrastinate. You told me about this years ago but I successfully put it off till now. Maybe I wasn't ready. I did a lot of psychotherapy and also worked as a counselor for 20 years so I picked up a lot of prejudices along the way. But your right, this type of thing is between the person and the Holy Spirit.
will said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
will said…
I’m really glad we are having this discussion on releasing guilt. A person could easily go through their entire life with ACIM and be totally unaware of the process. The first time I heard about this, I was completely unaware of this necessary action I had to take. I don’t know that I even believed it at the time. As I read Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace there is something that has become clear. But for the instructions in the book I would have turned to the personal mind to tell me how and what needs to be done. There are so many hidden traps it is like a mine field. I hope we continue to discuss this.
hannah said…
liz, when you say that drilling down through the process of looking at lack/guilt/fear all leads to the same place, (the motherlode ;) ), wouldnt that 'same place' seem to change at different stages of (and then strength of/attachment to) self identity? i mean, the place i come to sure does seems to change a lot, as you said.

do you mean that ultimately you find the belief that there is a god/power outside you who decrees an absolute morality? that you believe your will is different than this gods?? that you actively wish this separate self and its world to be real? that the impossible could happen? why does it all seem to be different places to me? do i stop looking too soon?

i say ultimately because of speaking of looking at guilt. actually-ultimately youd have to drill down and find reality, im sure!
ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah, what I found was that each time I ran into guilt in some form I'd drill down and find that it came to the same belief: that I had defied a god who had set up an absolute morality, who sat in judgement on me, and who would punish me. This was the core belief that underpinned all forms of guilt, no matter what they looked like to start.

I was not able to see this until peace had come to stay in my awareness. Before then I would not have been able to look at it. I believed it and it was too terrifying.
hannah said…
ah.. i just saw how the other things i was seeing as bottom line, like.. im guilty for wanting a separate will, im guilty for wanting to exist as an individual, are still just stories of my 'badness' that im believing will be judged by 'something' more powerful than me who is correct in its ' measuring stick'. latching onto the 'not bottom line' as bottom things is a defence. did you have to really 'face' that 'god' more than once? then after that its just focusing on remembering what you learned when you finally faced 'it'?
hannah said…
latching onto the 'not bottom line' as bottom line things is a defence.. bottoms really arent that brilliant a defence ;)
ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah, I had to face my *belief* in that god over and over until it sunk in that it does not exist.
hannah said…
right, gotchya, of course.

i imagine that facing that belief would coincide with facing the fear of the individual self as part of not truth. hmm. i guess though that our minds are good at layering, looking at one picture one aspect at a time.
ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah, I'm not sure what you mean by "facing the fear of the individual self as part of not-Truth". But I can say that I only faced the guilt when I had been long prepared to do so by increasing trust in Truth. The guilt just fell away.
hannah said…
um.. ok, i mean that (i think) that when youre accepting and experiencing that the truth is true, it must go hand in hand with accepting and facing that what we have identified with until then is not the truth. so.. our fearful concepts of a wrathful god separate from us become clearly false, but at the same time wed be facing the fact that we dont exist in truth individually? that both those experiences 'me' and 'separate god' were part of the same illusion?
ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah, that has happened automatically after a higher miracle or direct Revelation. "Wow, *this* isn't true. *That* is!" But other than that, I find the concern that "I'm not an individual" is an ego bugaboo.
hannah said…
ok, yes, thank you. (after googling bugaboo.. what a word!) i cant seem to help attaching the two, (an individual god and personal individuality) as in.. the fear aspects seem so basically connected. but maybe that is just words. because while it comes to mind when im looking at guilt, when im working my way back along a string of fearful thoughts and ideas and feelings, it doesnt come to mind in the same way when im experiencing a letting go.
hannah said…
oh.. wait. maybe thats because, when im experiencing a letting go, words have stopped!! letting go is an experience, not a thinking. oh.. maybe it would be accurate to say, more mind, less identity? hmm, i dunno.

and joy, cos it doesnt matter one iota!
ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah, yes, yes, and yes.
Nicci said…
Hanna and Liz, thank you for this latest conversation. i have drilled down many times now and always uncover a pervasive guilt that appears as a deep feeling of resultant unworthiness of God's Love. but have yet to access the core belief beneath that. peace is still intermittent, though gaining in consistency as i relinquish more and more. given your sharing LIz, i feel i have an understanding why getting to this core belief has yet to occur. thank you. nicci
ACIM Mentor said…
Nicci, that is the core belief of the ego! There is nothing more beyond it.
hannah said…
nicci and liz - re guilt and unworthiness! you guys just triggered a light-bulb moment, oh thank you!!!

oh, how to say that!? its like i was trying to make a connection in something that was already connected, and so couldnt figure out why i couldnt connect them! like.. trying to understand more was just creating its own confusion, because what was being looked at was much simpler than i thought!

ok, to check im seeing this clearly.

liz.. any sense of unworthiness, any sense i would be more acceptable and lovable if i changed something about myself, be it thought or action or even appearance, or that the world outside of me would be more acceptable and more lovable if i changed it (including wanting to change/clarify someones perception of me) is just an EXPRESSION of guilt right?

i felt so happy a moment ago, and now i feel panicky. and trying to UNDERSTAND this feeling is really counterproductive, right, beyond recognising that its an expression of guilt? i dont know if im being clear. what i mean is.. i cant UNDERSTAND guilt to achieve peace? understanding that guilt DOESNT make sense is the path to peace?

ah!! in light of our discussion about my reaction in the wee sma' 'oos this morning to my nieces religious beliefs. the strength of my reaction of needing to do something about that idea of a judgemental god, (because NOTHING has rocked me for ages like this stuff with maya, i couldnt understand the *strength* of the anger and the drive to do say things so directly out of line with my will to let her be) and the *depth* of the ickyness and guilt i felt afterwards. but it just now made clicked why in light of what you wrote above!

"Hannah, what I found was that each time I ran into guilt in some form I'd drill down and find that it came to the same belief: that I had defied a god who had set up an absolute morality, who sat in judgement on me, and who would punish me. This was the core belief that underpinned all forms of guilt, no matter what they looked like to start.

ok, now im confused again.. because that understanding didnt feel like it was counterproductive to forgiveness and peace! ok.. hang on, i think theres a difference between understanding the general dynamic of guilt so you can look 'beyond' it to truth, and seeking peace *through* understanding of the whys and wherefores of specific guilt so you can try and forgive. the second example is trying to bend truth and not truth?
nicci said…
thank you Liz. yes, i have sensed the core belief is identification with a separate self apart from God. at this time it is more of an intellectual understanding . . . i sense i have yet to actually confront it....i get close and a feeling of Love Given arises. perhaps the HS Within is preparing me gently as i continue to forgive...

sweet sister Hannah, thank you always for your sharing. i don't understand the guilt - unworthiness that is uncovered for me so much as recognize i am being given the opportunity to forgive it. trying to understand it seems to pull me away from the HS and back into the part of my mind that is invested in keeping the belief going. there is a gap that occurs in my mind, an opening, and in that opening, a willingness to let the HS understand it for me.... my hope is to steadily live more in that opening. i'll meet you there! endless L, n
ACIM Mentor said…
Yes, Hannah. You can learn how guilt works. But you will never understand it.

I don't know if this will help: After peace came to stay and had been with me for a while it came time, authentically, not because I thought it was time, to look at guilt. I felt that I was going down into a dark pit and the HS was up top holding the tether. I was ready and willing. And yet I couldn't find the guilt. I did this again and again and finally I asked the HS about it and It said, laughing, "I've told you over and over that there is no guilt." There's no guilt! There has only ever been a *belief* in guilt. That's when I realized I had to work on the belief not on guilt itself. In other words, I didn't have to make myself worthy. I didn't have to fix anything. I only had to let go of the idea of worthiness and accept What is.
nicci said…
thank you for this distinction... so helpful!!!!! e L, n
hannah said…
yes, very helpful, thanks guys xx
hannah said…
nicci & liz i just wanted to say i love how you both say things so concisely!

"trying to understand it seems to pull me away from the HS and back into the part of my mind that is invested in keeping the belief going"

"You can learn how guilt works. But you will never understand it."

nutshells baby!
hannah said…
AFTER peace came to stay. oh!
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