Looking back at that day when I danced around my big living room in agony, the day my wife decided to leave, I recognized that there had then been something deep inside me that had said it was still not ready to give up and die. In an aha moment, I realized that I had an inner voice, a source of self still yet untapped. I decided to take another look at my forgotten soul. As I examined my knowledge of neurology, psychology, and my religious beliefs, I found it difficult to know where the tortured mind (ego) ended and the soul began. I decided to look into my soul, not with the closed dogmatic eyes of religion, or the strictly rational side of the human mind, but with an open-minded view, a carte blanche.
To heal and understand the ego, we have to first understand the soul. I believe the soul is like a mystical trinity; there is one soul, but there are three sides to it: the part of the body and brain that is sometimes referred to as the gut, the ego or the mind that is sometimes referred to as the self, and the inner soul which is often referred to as the heart. The gut appears to contain genetic memories, body memories, gender identities, and the basic functions of the brain including drives and emotions. In a healthy bisexual soul, these drives are based on surviving, thriving, and the pursuit of pleasure. In a healthy bisexual soul, the gut is safe and comfortable and at peace with its sexuality; however, in an unhealthy bisexual soul, the issues begin with the ego which interferes with the desires of the gut. In an unhealthy bisexual soul the ego fights with the gut because it believes its sexuality is a source of pain that has to be avoided at all costs.
To heal a wounded ego, we have to realize that it is not our enemy; it is actually a part of our persona and therefore a part of the soul. It is the part most vulnerable to the stresses of life. Its role is to filter out harmful events and issues and help us remain in a state of homeostasis. It is like a soldier on the front line that has to be monitored and supported for us to be healthy human beings. That is the role of the inner Self or what we can refer to as the heart (more on this in a future blog).
There are varying views on the ego. In some spiritual circles, it appears to be the “bad boy” of the family that works in opposition to the soul. I prefer to take a broader view; I view the ego as an essential part of the soul itself. The ego is our sense of identity, our sense of self, the rational decision-making center or our being. It is there to keep the soul grounded in the day to day realities of life. A healthy ego uses the brain to solve problems as they arise.The ego constantly seeks that point of homeostasis where security is assured and it can pursue a path which leads to knowledge and a greater degree of purpose, contentment, and happiness. In the process, it develops complex sets of neural pathways made up of memories and emotions that become sets of beliefs. The ego then combines these beliefs to form schema which we can refer to as attitudes and ego-based values. Beliefs, attitudes, and values manifest themselves as thought and behavior patterns which the ego then uses to deal with present situations similar to past experiences. It uses all this information to set goals to take us to self-actualization where we can function and thrive in the real world as independent human beings. In this process, we become powerful adults who can make decisions that lead to more success and pleasure and less failure and pain.
These beliefs, attitudes, and values shape all our cognitive-social patterns. We are social creatures; we need the support of the group, and in the case of our sexuality we need to form positive, loving relationships. The ego seeks out relationships that bring positive feelings of pleasure and connection. Negative encounters, however, build a powerful body of painful memories and constructs that we can refer to as the pain body. When the decision making process of the ego is based on the pain body, it can become a vicious circle that can lead to destructive thought and behavior patterns in relationships. The key to mental health then is to assist the ego in dissolving the negative neural relationship connections in the pain body and reconnect them to positive feelings and emotions from the heart. The ego cannot do that alone because it gets stuck in its cycle of negative thought patterns and uses the same old schema to solve the same old problems. That’s where the heart has to step in and help build new thought patterns connected to feelings of love and appreciation instead of the old ones of hopelessness and worthlessness (to be covered in the next series of blogs).