Hi Meaningful Leader,
Today we’re going to tackle a fascinating topic – the mind-bending realm of human consciousness. Particularly, we will delve into the dynamics of the “authentic self” and the “ego.” You might have heard these terms thrown around in pop psychology, yoga classes, or maybe that one late-night discussion with your philosophy-loving friend.
Let’s start with a fun fact – do you know that a 2014 study by cognitive scientists at the University of California, Berkeley found that the more self-aware a person is, the more successful they tend to be? (1) Here’s where our exploration into human consciousness can offer some practical applications. Leaders, take note!
What is Human Consciousness?
To understand what we mean by “authentic self” and “ego,” we first need to have a basic understanding of human consciousness. Consciousness is an incredibly complex concept, and there isn’t a universally agreed-upon definition, but let’s simplify it for our purpose.
Consciousness is the state of being aware – aware of one’s environment, thoughts, emotions, and experiences. It’s the way you experience the world around you and how you understand your place in it (2).
Authentic Self vs. Ego
The terms “authentic self” and “ego” are mainly derived from psychology, particularly the works of Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud. These two aspects of our consciousness play a crucial role in how we interact with the world.
The Authentic Self
The “authentic self” refers to our core identity, the true self, devoid of societal expectations and masks. It’s the natural state of being that emerges when we’re aligned with our values, passions, and desires. This concept is deeply rooted in authenticity – living life in a manner that is true to our own personality, spirit, or character (3).
On the flip side, we have the “ego.” According to Freud, the ego operates based on the reality principle, mediating between our primitive desires (the id) and societal rules (the superego). It’s the part of us that learns, adapts, and conforms to societal norms (4).
The ego isn’t inherently bad; it’s actually essential. It helps us navigate the world without acting on every impulse. However, when overly developed or unchecked, it can lead us to behave in ways that are out of sync with our authentic self, causing inner conflict and unfulfilling experiences.
Recognizing the Authentic Self and the Ego
So, how do we differentiate between actions motivated by our authentic self and those driven by our ego? The answer lies in mindfulness and self-awareness.
Actions driven by the authentic self typically feel natural, unforced, and fulfilling. They align with our inner values and lead to a sense of peace and satisfaction. On the other hand, actions driven by the ego often result in feelings of discomfort, unease, or dissatisfaction. They might be driven by a desire to impress, compete, or conform to external standards.
Practical Applications for Leaders
For leaders, understanding these concepts can make a world of difference. Leaders who operate from their authentic self are more likely to foster trust, build strong relationships, and create an open, healthy working environment. They lead with empathy, integrity, and authenticity. Conversely, when leaders operate from ego, their actions may reflect competitiveness, control, and defensiveness, which can negatively impact team dynamics.
So, how can you, as a leader, foster your authentic self?
- Self-Reflection: Regularly spend time alone reflecting on your values, goals, and desires. This can be done through journaling, meditation, or simple introspection.
- Mindfulness: Practice mindfulness by focusing on the present moment. This can help you become more aware of your thoughts and actions, allowing you to discern whether they’re coming from your authentic self or your ego.
- Seek Feedback: Constructive feedback from trusted colleagues or a coach can provide an outside perspective, helping you understand if your actions align with your values and authentic self.
- Embrace Vulnerability: As Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, noted, vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change (5). Don’t be afraid to be open about your mistakes and challenges. This openness promotes authenticity and encourages others to do the same.
Exploring human consciousness, understanding the difference between your authentic self and your ego, and learning to balance the two is like embarking on a thrilling expedition. The terrain might be tricky, but the views are breathtaking and the discoveries invaluable.
Remember my friend, as the great Carl Jung said, “Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” Happy exploring!
If you found value here today, please like, comment and share with one person in your network who can benefit from his content.
Thanks for reading and God bless,