For practical purposes, I define the ego as that part of our personality that is concerned with survival along with its emotional and mental counterparts.
The ego naturally has a legitimate mechanism of caution built into it in order to function adequately in life and preserve its integrity among other individuals whoa re trying to do the same to survive. So, an intelligent animal, so so speak.
Normally, the ego does not receive proper education early in life and thus fear becomes overblown and psychological suffering becomes habitual.
The ego’s sense of separation manifests through seven discernible patterns in the population. For seekers, it is helpful to know which of the seven patterns is their favorite means of creating suffering. This pattern, or combination of patterns, forms the chief obstacle to living a life in peace, fearlessly and free from false expectations.
Find your pattern (or Chief Feature) from the list below. There is usually a secondary one that is pretty close to the main one which we tend to “slide” to when the main one is challenged. These patterns operate in varying degrees of intensity. For some people they are mild, for others they are intense. And they are or are not triggered depending on the stimulus life provides, as well as by automatic mental habits, or imagination, if you will.
The terms below are borrowed from The Michael Teachings’ Overleaves System. It can also be found partially in some 4th Way teachings. Roughly, the ego corresponds to “False Personality” in those systems.
Fear: fear of change. Fear of instability.
Wrong functioning: hardheadedness, willfulness, rigidity, unwillingness to accept the new, inability to change opinions.
Suffering: restlessness due to imagination and fear of change or actual experience of unpredictable people and life situations.
Fear: fear of not being able to do all we want to do within the time we have. Fear of missing out on opportunities.
Wrong functioning: attempts to cram more activity than is possible or wise within the allotted time. Hurry. Intolerance.
Suffering: irritation and aggressiveness due to cramming all we want to cram in the allotted time. Anxiety.
Fear: fear of being victimized or oppressed.
Wrong functioning: seeks and finds situations where defeat, failure, oppression and victimization are likely to occur. Pointless self-sacrifice. Excessive complaint. Somebody or the world is against me.
Suffering: feeling or being oppressed, defeated or victimized.
Fear: fear of being judged and condemned.
Wrong functioning: seeks and finds situations where judgment is likely. Shyness. Extreme attempt not to make mistakes. Hiding.
Suffering: being judged harshly or being disliked or misunderstood.
Fear: fear of being inadequate. Fear of conflict.
Wrong functioning: acquiescing, saying yes when one should say no, low self-worth, self-abasement. We become quiet when we ought to speak up. We fold when we ought to fight. Inaction.
Suffering: not being able to please.
Main fear: fear of lack, fear of loss.
Wrong functioning: accumulation of goods and/or experience beyond usefulness. Hoarding. Gluttony.
Suffering: feeling one never has enough. Dissatisfaction.
Fear: fear of losing or not having control.
Wrong functioning: seeks situations of danger, challenges, or great difficulty. Disregard and disdain for life.
Suffering: loss of relative control and the bitter truth that absolute control can never be achieved. Addiction of all kinds.