Defining our terms: Ego and Essence


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Have you ever listened to an Enneagram teacher and they throw out some terms that you aren't fully understanding?? Today I am defining two terms: Ego and Essence. 

Ego = False Self
Essence = True Self

Before we go too much further let me just say that neither "self" is bad or good. They are simply two ways of being that do carry with them some consequences, but that's all. I don't want to vilify either of these two ways of being. Both belong. 

Let's start with False Self and Ego. I use these two terms interchangeably. It's the self that we feel that we have to be to make our way in the world. It's a self that is not our true essence, but something we have manufactured. Typically this is something that we create early on in our childhood. We perceive a lack in our "holding" (the environment in which we grew up) and when we perceive this lack we try to create balance by fabricating a personality that will allow us to survive the perceived lack. 

This is a manufactured way of being in the world that is a response to a perceived lack. 

This is a restricting, rigid set of characteristics and seeing the world. It keeps us safe, but it also keeps us stuck. But we needed our Ego to protect ourselves, where there was lack, where there was an environment that wasn't healthy, and that protection is beautiful and needed sometimes. When we look at Ego in this way, we can have gratitude for Ego while also wanting it to eventually fall away. 

Because Ego will restrict us down to a limited experience of the world, we are going to want to allow it to fall away at some point, but alway with a compassion and gratitude for our Ego. 

The best way to allow Ego and False Self to fall away is to sit in compassion with it rather than fight against it. 

Now let's take a look at Essence and True Self. 

This is our innocence. This is the part of us that would be there if we didn't perceive or experience any lack in the world. Who we would be if everything was whole and good and safe. If we pulled all of the things that threaten us out of the world, who would we be? That's essence, that's our true self. 

This is a more expansive way of living and being, it's what we long for, it's who we long to return to. Essence and Ego can co-exist, but Ego will always limit Essence. Essence never disappears, it always lives beneath the Ego. 

I love this chart that helps us see what we long for and what we settle for instead: 


Does that resonate with you like it does for me? 

This week our LIVE workshop will discuss this concept in greater detail as we explore how to let Ego fall away and step more fully in to our Essence. To get your tickets, click here.





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