It’s the final day of my 4-years-later review of my Season 1 solo episodes. And what better note to end it on than coming back to our authentic selves?
(I’ll be skipping Episode 13 ["On Navigating Romantic Relationships (with Bruno Nunes)"] and Episode 14 [“On Music, Mental Illness, and Leadership (with Rebecca Lam)”] as I wanted to honour my guest episodes and leave them as they were without analyzing or critiquing what I might say differently. Those were special conversations!)
In this episode, I talked about the difference between our ego (or egoic self) and our higher self (what I also refer to as our authentic self, intuition, and more recently, our Embodied Self or just Self with a capital S!).
I mentioned that the societies we live in tend to reflect not our authentic selves but rather our egoic selves. And sometimes I’ve had to remind myself of this when I feel out of place in this world.
That the world isn’t always kind or heart-centered. That I live in oppressive systems that in many ways don’t prioritize my needs or see my humanness. That we’ve gotten so far away from how our bodies naturally want to align with the earth and nature.
It’s no wonder that staying close to our higher selves is a not-so-straightforward process that in some moments feels impossible.
But I believe we can cultivate the awareness to better discern when it’s our ego talking to us versus our higher self, as I shared in the episode, in order to get as close as we can.
It’s very much related to what I said in Episode 2 of Season 1 (“Getting Honest with Ourselves”), except that the ego can encompass much more than just fear.
In fact, one thing that stuck with me very early on in this journey is how a person could even over-identify with “being a spiritual person” and still fall into the trap of wanting “more” – more enlightenment, more peace, more good vibrations – as the ego always does.
I come back to this thought every once in a while, especially given how much time and energy I have spent on doing the so-called “self-work” or “spiritual development work.”
I’ve learned that all of these practices, tools, and so on, that can be so important to our healing and growth can also be used as a protective mechanism to not explore other facets of ourselves and life in general.
* * *
On the note of discerning between our ego and higher self, it can be really helpful to learn what it feels like in your body when the ego is trying to run the show. In Season 3, which is coming right around the corner, we’re going to get into tapping into our body’s wisdom in so much more detail.
For now, I’ll just say that a really important point I said in the episode that still holds true today is that the more I’ve connected with my higher self, the less I even want to identify with my ego (“I’ve seen there’s the other side”).
Part of it is just even knowing there’s an alternative and experiencing how much more true to ourselves that alternative feels.
The more I experience the relief, freedom, and self-love that comes along with being in and acting from my higher/authentic self – and by “experience” I mean sensing it deeply in my body – the faster and more easily I notice when I’m not in that place (i.e., when I’m acting from my egoic self).
When we don’t know what we don’t know (yet), whatever we do know becomes our norm. And even if to some degree we can sense that something isn’t quite right with the norm, we might not know that alternative experience to really “get” it.
It can take a lot of baby steps, practice, and reverting back to the status quo before it becomes more of an embodied experience and way of being versus an idealistic thought and goal. So, for me, it’s required a lot of patience, guidance, and just doing the damn thing.
* * *
In this episode, I also shared about “meeting” my higher self (a.k.a. “my Captain”) through a visualization exercise I did with my then-life coach Ivy La Clair. Since then, I have “met” with my Captain in our imaginary nature sanctuary to access her support, presence, and energy.
The visualization stuff might sound a bit (or a lot) woo-woo, but I have been awed again and again by how storytelling and using our imagination, instead of just relying on thought and analysis, can be such powerful ways of approaching healing.
For the past year or two, I have experienced this most poignantly through doing Somatic Internal Family Systems therapy work. (I have talked about working with this therapeutic model in this blog post and this blog post.) It’s kind of reminiscent of inner child work, where you visualize your higher self (termed “Embodied Self” in this model) speaking with a younger version of yourself.
On that note, this concept of us having an ego and a higher self is just that – one concept or way of seeing ourselves and attempting to explain both the shadowy and enlightened parts of us.
There are lots of other ways (a.k.a. models, frameworks, perspectives, theories, etc.) in this realm of psychology, “self-development”, and trauma-healing that similarly exist. They might overlap and/or differ, they might speak of the same thing but use different terms, etc. But usually there is an attempt to describe patterns we see in human behaviour, perhaps point to the potential causes of the related challenges, and offer ways to address those challenges.
I have found it helpful to explore different models and theories, and not see one as being able to fully explain the complexity of why we show up in relationships, the world, and in our own minds in the complex ways that we do.
I think the ego–higher self concept is interesting and might resonate with a lot of folks. But four years later, I also think it only scratches the surface.
In my humble opinion, the important thing is to always keep our minds open to what we don't know yet...because the more we go down this path of spiritual development, the more we realize how much deeper the rabbit hole goes.
* * *
Thanks so much for following along on this journey back in time to reflect on Season 1 of the podcast four years later. I'm encouraged to know that a lot of what I shared then still holds true today for me, although definitely with much more nuance and complexity.
It's taught me that four years from now, my mind and soul will undoubtedly be expanded and exploring new realms of this thing called my spiritual journey. I'm excited to walk into those shadowy and light-filled places and share about it with you all on The Soul's Work Podcast.
With love, Janice xo
P.S. You can listen to "Your Ego & Your Higher Self (S1, EP11 | The Soul's Work Podcast)" on: the website | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Podchaser | Stitcher | Please subscribe + leave a rating and review to help others find the show! ❤