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Are You an Ego Maniac?

In just one week most Christian churches will be moving into a penitential church season called Lent.  It is a six-week time of reflection on our spiritual life.  This is a time to take a spiritual inventory of our lives. This time of reflection would be beneficial for any faith. 
There seems to be an internal battle going on in many of us that is similar to some earthly skirmish.  We are not immune to conflicts and disputes, whether internal or external.  The conflict between people is often preceded and caused by some kind of internal conflict within.  This is certainly the case with such phenomena as “road rage” and “murder in the workplace” perpetrated by former employees with various grievances. 
I believe it is fair to say the chief interior desire “fighting inside” each of us is the desire of the ego to take control of the soul, or true self.  The ego is our conscious identity, everything we mean when we say “I” as we so frequently do. Instead of the ego serving the soul, as Christians understand Christ serving the Father, there seems to be a deeply ingrained inclination of the ego to make the soul serve it.  The ego wants always to be great, powerful, perfect, immortal, in control.  In short, the ego would like to be god in place of God which was the original sin behind the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden as recorded in the Pentateuch.
We are called to bring the ego into a right and subservient relationship to the soul/true self.  For the ego, badly inflated with false pride, to suffer such a deflation is as difficult and painful a choice as the prospect of laying down one’s life.  Recovering narcissists know that such ego therapy and salvation really does feel like dying.  The deflation of a pathologically bloated ego, in fact, feels like death to any person going through this experience.  Many such chronically egocentric individuals indeed choose physical death over denying themselves, usually by one form of taking one’s life or another. 
Pride and power struggles are not limited to politics or religion.  What can we do?  Well, here are four strategies gleaned from Hebrew and Christian Holy Scriptures sprinkled with a dose of my experience which may help any of us to keep our ego in a proper and healthy relationship to our soul.
1.      Regarding mistakes: admit them, don’t hide them.
2.      Regarding sin: confess, don’t deny.  Repentance is a primary antidote to ego inflation.
3.      Regarding gratitude: maintain at all times, remembering that without all that others have done for us, not least God, most of us would not have amounted to half as much.
4.      Regarding humor: never take ourselves so seriously that we lose the ability to laugh at ourselves.
I do believe that abundant new life is possible if we allow the true reality of the soul to burst forth.

Fr. Richard Visconti
Rector, Caroline Church


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