By Jimmy Warden
When it comes to personal development, we often know what we need to do to improve ourselves. In many cases, the things that we need to do are simple: drink more water, eat healthier, exercise more, unplug from work and social media, read more, reflect on our personal lives, or begin a meditation practice. But do we do these things? Not always, and not as often as we’d like to. Deep down, we know we should be doing these things, but we don’t always follow through. Why is that?
Well, there are a few reasons why things happen the way they do.
For starters, our ego gets in the way of our decision-making. It holds our personal development back because it demands we make decisions to support it, not our personal development. Our ego is the loud voice in our head that shrieks to us like a child demanding something from their parent. These cries are often choices for a decision we are facing in the present moment. Do we get up when our alarm goes off or do we hit snooze? Do we make a steak or order a pizza? Do we read a few pages of a book or scroll social media? In many of these cases, we make the second choice because our ego convinces us to make that choice. Its goal is to meet momentary needs. The ego thrives on making the easier choice. We could use willpower to override the ego, but that is also an act of the ego, and willpower is limited and eventually gets depleted, so that option only works for so long.
The second answer is strongly influenced by the ego, and that is convenience. The situations that were presented earlier provide good choices and convenient choices. We succumb to convenient choices because they take less work. We are always trying to find the path of least resistance, so convenience tends to win the battle against good. These decisions are strongly influenced by the ego because they often meet a need (or multiple needs) in the moment they are desired.
Before we get into the third reason, it is important to introduce the role of the soul in personal development. The soul is our inner source of wisdom and feeling. It’s that intuitive feeling that we get in our stomach, down our spine, or in our heart when we know something is right or wrong, but it might not seem that way in our mind. It is the inner compass for bettering ourselves, but it is hard to tap into if we aren’t aware of its presence. However, if we are aware of it, we’re more likely to access it.
The Battle Between The Ego and The Soul
This is when the third reason comes into play. There is an ongoing battle within ourselves, between our ego and our soul. The battle is divided between our thinking and feelings. When we manifest thoughts and feelings at a moment’s notice, it can be hard to recognize if they came from our ego or our soul. However, the more in tune we are with ourselves, the more we can understand where our thought or feeling came from. For example, if a thought or feeling we experience stems from something that just happened to us, it likely came from our ego. If it is a recurring thought or feeling, and it stems from something that we’re intimately connected to, it likely came from our soul.
What to do?
The first step is becoming more mindful of our thoughts and feelings. If we cultivate a greater awareness of the roots of our thoughts and feelings, we’ll be able to recognize when a thought or feeling comes from our ego or our soul.
The second step is understanding how the decisions we’re making are influenced by our ego or our soul. This understanding will lead to an awareness of whether our decisions are feeding our ego or our soul. The more we feed the ego, the less powerful we feel. The more we feed the soul, the more in control we feel.
Once this happens, we can take the third step; create a battle plan for our soul to work with our ego. When these two forces work in harmony, our ability to develop ourselves increases exponentially. We can leverage the voice of the ego to know what not to do; then, we can determine what to do by listening to the soul. When we’re engaged with the action for the soul, we can use the ego as fuel to keep us going.
So take some time to think about which voice you listen to, your ego or your soul. You just may have a breakthrough in self-awareness!