Issue 21 January 2006

The  Negative Ego

A  Response from Hal Stone and Sidra Stone to a letter

asking  for clarification about the concept of the negative ego.

What we generally refer to as “ego” is in fact a group of sub-personalities  that each of us has grown up with and these sub-personalities ( ego ) determine  how we feel, think and perceive reality.   If you have grown up in a family  that is identified with mind and you are an oldest son then you well may identify  with the mind as a primary self. Going along with this will probably be the  selves we refer to as impersonal, controlled and possibly perfectionistic.    Our “ego states” are simply the many selves within us that we have identified  with in the course of our growing up process.

To  refer to them as “negative ego” is really quite sad. They are the  selves that were conditioned into us in the maturation process and they have  been doing their best to keep us safe and protected and successful on the planet.    Now spiritually identified people come along and they say that the mind  or arrogance or selfishness or self-involvement are false selves or parts of  the negative ego.   For us nothing in the psyche is, in itself, negative  or positive. The mind is a very handy thing to have available so long as  you are not identified with it. Arrogance can give you power. Selfishness  can give you boundaries. Self-involvement gives you entitlement. The trick is  to learn how to not be identified with them or married to them.

The  issue of identification is the key to understanding the psyche.   From  our perspective each self is an energy pattern and they are neither bad nor  good. So we have developed a method to help you to separate from your primary  selves ( ego states/ negative ego/etc ). We have you move over and we talk to  the mind. After we have done this for a period of time you move back to the  place you were before the work started. The you that is sitting there is not  the same you that was there before because the new “you” is no longer  identified with the mind. You are now in the Aware Ego process .  Separated from the mind you begin feel energetic connection to me. You begin  to experience feelings and emotions because your mind can no longer shut down  the opposite side. Eventually we spend time with the opposite selves — with  your feelings, your more personal selves, your selves that are related to intimacy.    

Eventually  you come back to the center place, the Aware Ego place, and now you are resting between opposites. On one side is the mind/impersonal selves and on the other  side is the feeling/personal selves.    The Aware Ego has to learn constantly to rest between opposites — and  there are many of them.   On one side is the primary self system and on  the other side is the disowned self system. Whenever you judge someone you are  dealing with a disowned self. Whenever you are unconsciously fascinated by someone  or feeling inferior to someone, you are dealing with a disowned self.

Is  compassion good?   No — it isn’t good and it isn’t bad. It depends on  what part of you is practicing compassion. If you are a spiritual type and you  have learned that compassion is good, then you will always try and be compassionate.  If you always try to be compassionate then you will bury your “non-compassionate  nature.” So you will have compassion as a primary self and underneath it will  be the garbage dump of all of your disowned selfishness, judgment, negativity,  etc. Our approach is very different. We simply would begin to talk to your compassionate  side. You would learn about it and hear its voice and enjoy it but you would  no longer need to be married to it or identified with it. We then would talk  to your other side — your non-compassionate nature. Here you might be in for  a surprise because the more you try to live in the light, the more darkness  there is on the other side.

Let  us say that your spiritual teacher tells you that you are arrogant and this  is part of the negative ego. Now you must get rid of arrogance. You can meditate  and you ask for God to bring in the loving energy and light and the arrogant  feeling disappears. Where does it go?   It goes into the giant energy pool  of disowned material that keeps psychotherapists in practice unto all eternity.    You can mask the arrogance, but it doesn’t disappear. It simply goes  underground.   In our dreams we discover the multitude of disowned energies,  often chasing us and terrifying us and making us victims to them.

We  do something very different. We say — Okay Michael so you are arrogant. That  is an energy, a self that lives within you that is behaving unconsciously. So  let us talk to it. We then move you over and begin a dialogue with arrogance  as a self. We find that it gives you great power and authority. It is angry  at you because it feels you have always hated it so. It is always trying to  break out of the prison that has been created by your “anti-arrogance” selves. Then we go back to the Aware Ego and eventually to the other side where  we talk to your spiritual voice or your anti-arrogance voice and then back to  the Aware Ego and now you must stand between these opposites.

You  must embrace your arrogance while at the same time you embrace your anti-arrogance.  In this way the Aware Ego is in a constant state of sweat because the opposites  are so numerous. There is Christ and Satan, Pusher and Beachbum, Power and Vulnerability,  Hatred and Love, Personal and Impersonal, Being and Doing, Extraversion and  Introversion, being open and straight and being Machiavellian on the other side.  The list is endless.

God  is many different things and manifests in many different forms and energies.  Certainly for people who work with the Psychology of the Aware Ego, God lives  also in our ability to sweat the tension of the opposites.   It is our  view that every conceivable form of darkness is a part of us just as the highest  and sweetest expression of divine light is a part of us also. This is the human  condition.   Nothing can be left out of the equation. What you leave out  bites you, over and over again, until we learn to honor that which we thought  was our enemy.

I  hope these ideas are helpful to you in your search.

With  Best wishes   — Hal and Sidra Stone