When Your Ego Holds You Hostage | ES173

This week, we are exploring the intricate workings of the “ego” and its subtle influence on our thoughts. It’s a silent captor, often guiding us through repetitive thoughts on topics like fairness, past relationships, or self-doubt.

Traditionally, it’s been proposed that eliminating the ego is the path to freedom, but today I want to offer an alternative perspective that has us looking at the ego as a lost inner child seeking safety and love — and it is our responsibility to offer guidance, compassion, and healthy boundaries.

If you are curious to delve deeper into helping your ego heal and evolve so that you can enjoy genuine serenity, don’t miss this thought-provoking exploration of the ego’s role in our lives.

Dr. Friedemann’s Takeaways:

  • The Ego And Its Impact On Mental Well-Being (03:22)
  • Childhood Experiences And Their Impact On Self-Worth (09:19)
  • Managing The Ego And Cultivating Self-Awareness (13:18)
  • Ego, Anxiety, And Personal Growth (20:34)

Friedemann Schaub, MD, PhD, is the award-winning author of The Fear + Anxiety Solution. Dr. Schaub has helped thousands of people with his Personal Breakthrough and Empowerment program to overcome their fear and anxiety by addressing the deeper, subconscious root causes of these emotional challenges.

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Dr Friedemann Schaub: Hello, and welcome to my Instagram Live. I just gonna open up my little screen here so that I can see if anyone has any questions. I actually apologized profusely for yesterday, I have to say, because yesterday, obviously, I wasn't there, maybe some of you have been waiting for me to show up. But I didn't. So very sorry for that we had the worst thunderstorm ever. And we do have thunderstorms here. But man that was pouring down. And as some of you know, we have horses. And so all these horses were standing in the pouring rain because I didn't have a chance to bring him in. And the lightning was coming down. And I thought, Okay, I'm gonna probably have a horse be fried by the by the thunderstorm. But thank God, nothing happened. But I was just too busy to get him in and into safety that I didn't really have any opportunity to chime in. And I certainly also didn't have a very stable internet connection. So there was the other issue. Now everything has come, the rain has stopped. And I'm here, and I'm excited to talk about a topic that may be also something you're struggling with, which is the ego. Now, does your ego hold you hostage? I mean, what does it even mean? You know, the ego holding hostage, I came up with this realization, when I looked around me and realize how many people that work with but also people friends of mine that I know have been dealing with their ego, just keeping them stuck. client of mine, for example, had the recent breakup. And all she can do is think about the person that just left her. And all she can do is somehow stalking on social media, what this person is doing now without her and even though she knows it's like emotional cutting, and really hurts a lot. She goes over and over back into that painful place. Another client of mine told me that she never has been hugged as a child, and she really, really has a hard time to hug. And even though she knows that her daughter would nothing want nothing more than getting a hug from her mother, she just cannot do it. It's impossible for her to overcome that hurdle. Or another client of mine says that she really has the best relationship, beautiful person that she's with. But somehow she cannot think about if or not stop thinking about if there shouldn't be someone better out there. Maybe there is someone who is a better fit more interesting, has more money, whatever those things are. Now, can you relate that there is a part of you, that also keeps you going into this spiral thinking, especially when you're quiet. I mean, the part of this ego hostage is that it's not showing up necessarily when you're busy or when you're engaged or when you're doing your regular work. It really usually shows up when you just want to chill, or you want to meditate or you're in bed and all of a sudden this voice comes in and tells you all those stories, it can also be an anxious voice can be a what if voice can be just looking for what you need to worry about. It usually is focusing on the negative. Now, how can we get out of this? How can we not get stuck in that inner hell that this part of us pulls us in? It's like a black hole. And all we can see is the issue that we're told in the back of our mind is the one issue we need to resolve or focus on. And everything else seemed to not matter. What can we do? And all the people I just told you, were asking me exactly the same questions. What can I do to not get stuck in my ego? While the answer is not that simple, and it starts with understanding what the ego really is. Now, I don't think that there's any part of ourselves that has as bad of a reputation Same as the ego, it's usually just you know, the one that we identify as, all full of themselves or it's all about me, me, me, me. It says seen by Buddhism as the cause of our false attachments, that leads then to misery and pain. It is seen by Freud more as the it who is more of this instinctual self that just wants to fight for self preservation or getting its needs met in neurophysiology, it is probably the mostly related to something called D n, n, which is default mode network. And it's somewhere in the middle of the brain. And it's that that aspect of the brain that kicks in when everything else is quiet, and it just is chiming, constantly beating the drum of negativity of problems, and to the extent that it really creates something that I have to quote this because I really liked that. It leads to toxic self awareness. In this book, it's the curse of self by Mark Leary, he says that this form of overly analyzing ourselves always looking for where is the pain? Where is anxiety? Where is the void? What do we need to do to somehow get what we want or feel better, or resolve the problem, that constantly thinking about what's wrong, or what we should have and don't have, which is also connected to comparison and competition with others, that this is the cause for most of our society's anguish, anxiety, depression, and ultimately, also isolation, because it keeps us disconnected from ourselves. So it doesn't sound really the ego has a big fan base. But I think the problem is when we are condemning something inside of us as well, you're just wrong. It's a little bit like the appendix and we just think let's, let's get it out. We don't really need it. Well, maybe we do. Maybe it's not that bad. Someone wanted to cut off my gallbladder. And I'm glad I kept it because I think it serves me well. And so also, the ego is not necessarily bad. It's not necessarily wrong, but it's misguided. And so I like to look at the ego more as a extension of our deeper, instinctual and subconscious mind that ultimately just has three questions. Am I safe? Am I lovable or good enough? And can I have what I want? And those three questions are questions that we have been asking ourselves, since we were very little, it's more like a child inside of us a vulnerable aspect, a little self, who just feels like it has to fend for itself or fend for us. So if you're looking at the ego, not as your enemy, but more as an aspect of yourself that needs a little help, you already are having a much closer approach to helping the ego to not take too much real estate in your mind, then if you do what most people do, which is either ignoring it by distracting themselves, but getting busy by always being around other people. But as soon as they're alone, again, this voice kicks in, or they are getting angry at it. And they are yelling at themselves. Why am I doing this? This is stupid and create a lot of disharmony and a lot of also sense of exhaustion. Because if you battle yourself, ultimately, there is no winner. And it's an endless fight. Or you give in to the ego like all the people that I just told you about just saying, Okay, I guess I have to stock I guess I have to worry. I guess I have to look left and right. Because I'm feeling like you know, there may be something better. All of those things are not really helpful. Because they just keep the ego isolated from yourself. They keep the ego without any adult supervision. And so it just keeps on looking like a travel dog for truffles. It looks for trouble. Anything that can be a problem. It tries to sniff out and warn you or prevented from happening. So do you remember when you were a child and you were trying to get comfort from your parents? And maybe you didn't get it may You were crying because


someone teased you in school and your parents called you a cry baby. Or they ask you, what did you do to this child that they were teasing you and blamed you right away, or they just didn't have time for you. Or maybe they tried to comfort you, but it was not really feeling any better. And then you've just stopped looking for their support? Or do you remember when you were really trying to be good, and maybe you did a little scared, and you want to just to get some approval, a sense of being lovable, and no one paid attention, or maybe even worse, they were laughing about you, and making fun of you, like this client of mine who told me the story where she had this brilliant idea, Oh, I gotta give my parents this box. And I'm going to put a little note in this box, that this is God's love. And they're going to really love it, because it's such an ingenious idea. And she was only like, six or seven years old? Well, when the parents were opening the box, and they only saw the note and they saw the empty box. They were laughing. And they were thought, thinking it was the funniest thing in the world. Well, this little child ran up in her room, and was hurt. And she promised herself that she will never put herself out there. And you know, show her vulnerability or give people gifts from her creativity, they will, she will only play it safe. So she didn't feel lovable are good enough from that point. And then most of us had that feeling. Also, at some point that we want something that we cannot have. I always wanted to have rollerblades. And it's something my parents never wanted to buy me. I don't know, maybe they saved me and I would have broken my neck. Who knows. But it's definitely something that I had been so often hoping and reminding them Do you remember I want to have rollerblades for Christmas. In the snow, it's not that good. Or for my birthday? Well, I didn't get it. And so there was always this feeling somehow or lingering, a cannot have what I want. I know it sounds spoiled. But those little things can really create an impact. And they can also make you have these limiting beliefs about yourself and about the world. And those limiting beliefs of the ego can be that I am not safe, or I am not really wanted or I can really not have what I want. So even if you have what you want, you still think well that cannot be it because I have it because I cannot have what I wanted Ness be something else must be something out there. And so that search always continues. So when you realize it all starts early, it's something like a misguided last little self that is roaming in your mind just having all these questions and maybe little temper tantrums, wondering, well, when can I finally find safety or love or get what I want? Then you can say, what does this ego need from me? It needs three things. First of all, it needs boundaries. Now, in the neurophysiological way, if you think about this default mode network somewhere in your brain chiming in, what it needs is a frontal lobe to say no, the frontal lobe is more of the decision maker. It's the alpha of the brain. It's the one that says hey, let's go this direction. Let's focus on that. And it's like the parent for the ego. It's the part that just simply says, I know that you're scared. I know that you want love, I know that you want attention. But right now I am meditating. Right now we are focusing on this movie right now I want to sleep. So having clear and compassionate boundaries and simply saying no, not now. But later. And doing this consistently. This is what you know, in, in mindfulness meditation is basically bringing your mind back to the pillow bringing your mind back to the breath. It's kind of that just with a little bit more understanding and compassion for this part that wants to distract you or pull you away. Be clear that you want to show this ego part that it matters, but that you also are the one in charge that you're in the driver's seat and not the ego part. And the more often you say not now but just know or shut up. No, not now, by later and then you come back later than more this part of you will actually start to listen and call Write down. The second thing is that you want to understand that this is a part that can learn, that can learn to look beyond its distortions, all these old ideas and, and beliefs are not true. So the ego may say, I cannot trust anyone, no one is looking out for me. So I need to be in control. And then you can just say, well, that's not really what I believe that's not my value. That's not something that I have experienced. And then you can put out all those things that you have as evidence that you do actually have people that you can rely on that you can trust in that have your best interest in mind, even though it may have not been your family of origin. Or the ego may say, I'm not good enough, I'm only good enough if I have x amount of success or money or all these approvals. And then you can say to the ego, no, this is also misguided. See, my worthiness, my goodness is not based on external things. It's really based on what the truth is inside of me. So here are my gifts and my values and the things I'm good at. And you're listing all those things up and showing this part of you that it's perception is the distortion of its past of the childhood. And then there may be also that the ego says, well, we cannot really have what we want. And then you can say, well, maybe we'll not always getting what we want, but maybe we already have so much that we have more to be happy about and grateful for, then that we are missing out. And you can list all the things that you are really appreciating in your life right now. And you can make it a practice. Or the ego may say I'm not saved, the world is not saved, bad things gonna happen. And you can say, Well, look, I make a list of all the near misses in my life, all the things that I almost happened, like, you know, for me, it was, remember an accident that I almost had on a black eyes road that was going down and there was a car in front of me stopping I don't know if this car is stopping the ice, but it stopped. And I was flittering down. And in the last moment something took the steering wheel, I'm sure it was some guardian angel. And I was not eating the car I was swirling around, but I was safe. Nothing happened, I was definitely bracing myself for impact. So all those near misses in our lives, we can write down or all the times when we thought things go definitely wrong, there's going to be disaster. And then they didn't go wrong, and everything was fine, or where there were challenges. And somehow we overcame them. And we were able to manage or actually grow from the challenges, right those things down also to convince that ego, that you are safe, and that you are the source of safety. And if you want to that there is also a higher power or Life, the Universe showing up and looking out for you. The ego needs to know that all the things it was wanting and worrying about are actually just based on false assumptions. And so you can write a letter to your ego, you can make all those lists also, why you are the source of love. And you don't need necessarily this source of love to be the parents or whenever this part of you was missing.


You can have sticky notes that you make on your mirror with little affirmations and statements that remind you of the truth so that this part of you really always gets, you know, a visual of this is the new reality. It's not this old, distorted reality. And of course, it's good to have habits like a gratitude journal or just the daily little chat with this little ego, seeing how it feels and, and also addressing its concerns. It really is helping this part of you to outgrow its needs. It's like the little bird in the nest that always have the mouth open and or the beak open for the mommy to come in and feed it and at some point it can feed itself. So that's what you want to teach the ego. You don't have to always pipe up. It's okay, you are safe, you are loved. And you're wanting it. And that brings me to the third point. What do you give the ego as a new focus? Because the ego has a superpower. And the superpower of the ego is to be committed to committed to its agenda to whatever it thinks it wants. It does it and it just keeps on pounding down this idea until you give in. Or you are teaching it to focus on something else. The ego, by definition is about me. What is it in it for me? What do I need? How do I keep myself safe? So it's very self focused. That's true. Because when you're thinking back as a child, you really need to focus on your survival, because pretty much otherwise you're toast, you're you're powerless, you need others. But now it changes. And if you want to really help the ego to find more purpose, help the ego to realize now it's about we, let's look at how we can make a difference how we can engage in life and, and help others in small ways it can we really just, well, you know, I need to be more generous. Someone who was struggling with his ego told me that he realized how His ego was always talking him out of giving his wife a compliment. When she needed it, you know, he stands there in front of him and says, Well, do I look fat in these jeans? I think I gained some pounds. And and he always felt like no, I have to say the truth. Yes, you are, I think you gained some weight. And he thought that was a much more authentic way of being until he realized he was just his little ego part that was always highly critical, and always wondering if there is someone better or something better out there. And so he shifted it to the superpower of focusing on making the person that is the most loving and the most supportive in his life happy. And then it just turned into a much more generosity into how can I make her see how beautiful she is? How can I give her the little comfort and compliment when she needs it the most? How can I already think ahead when she feels he needs just a little be taken care of and make her a tea. That is when the shifted into giving. Without having a transactional idea behind without needing anything in return without even needing approval, it was just about giving. And that can be the same thing with maybe a neighbor who needs some help. And you know, with shopping because she or he is elderly, or maybe it's about you are at work. And you see there is an underdog and that underdog always sits alone, nibbling on the sandwich at lunch and you just include this person and have a little chat and go for a coffee and make this person feel wanted. That can be a lot of opportunities to be more giving, and to be more generous. And that is what the ego can actually do. It can commit to what ever you tell it to do. But it again, needs your instruction in your direction. So first step, have boundaries and show the eager and not buying into it but you're also not fighting it, you are raising it, you're teaching it to think differently and to be different in the world, then you are reflecting on those beliefs and those old ideas that are outdated and setting the record straight, re upgrading the mindset of the ego. And then you give it a new job description by being more focused on engagement and generosity and giving. Rather than feeling like that you have to always just look out for yourself and as many many studies showed, giving and and being of service and supporting others and engaging this way in life is the real source of peace and happiness. So I thought we're going to do just a quick visualization meditation and the ego so all you need to do is just to close your eyes for a moment unless you're driving but you shouldn't drive watching Instagram anyhow, so close your eyes. And just imagine for a moment that you can connect to this part of you that has been annoyingly loud in your mind and knowingly nagging. Pushing you always to look for the negative look for the void. Look for anything that somehow feels wrong or seems needs improvement. The part of you always that said me me me. And rather than seeing it as some amorphous blob or Some little negative judge or a part of you that looks ugly and unwanted. Just imagine it as this younger little self who just need some attention, need some guidance, need some support. hear this voice also more high pitched, like the voice of a child. And then simply look at this part of you and say, I hear you. I understand your pain. I understand your fear. I understand your self doubt. It's not your fault. It's not something you chose. I forgive you. And I choose to forgive all those that caused you to feel this way. You're safe. I care for you. I love you. And I'll teach you how to truly be happy, fulfilled and at peace. You can trust me. And just send from your heart, some love and appreciation to this part of you. And know, every time it needs your attention, you can do exactly this. Exactly this little form of inner communication, not running away from it. Not making yourself even smaller, not feeling that it has any kind of power over you. But just showing you get it. It's safe. And they can trust you.