A reader asks: I’m discovering egoic compulsions that I didn’t know I had before. Is this a good thing? How does this process work within relationships?
Eckhart responds: Sometimes, with awareness, you become aware of things that were unconscious before. Then it seems as if you were becoming more egoic, when egoic patterns rise to consciousness they are suddenly observed. You’re beginning to see all the aspects of your ego that, before, you didn’t even know were there. You’ve identified so much with your reaction to patterns that you enable this approach. The people with the biggest egos have never even heard of ego. So, if you know that you have an ego and occasionally you see it in action, it means that consciousness is rising and the ego is no more than a conditioned pattern in the mind.
Verbalize your ego. That brings it to the light of consciousness. Whatever you feel, make a commitment to be very open and just express what you feel. Be very conscious of accusing, and blaming, and needing to be right. One of the most deep-seated ego patterns is the unconscious need to be right. Huge arguments can develop over the tiniest things. “The moon is 300,000 kilometers from the earth.” “No, it’s not. It’s 3,000,000 kilometers from the earth.” Ego comes in and immediately a huge argument out of nothing, so if you are aware of it, you can do something about it. Truly hear what the other person is saying, and then let those words become secondary. You’re listening, but what is more important is the energy field that is behind the listening. This is presence. I call it space in the relationship, this ability to be present with the other person.
A relationship with a partner is a good opportunity for observing your ego. If you live alone, you might be under the delusion that you don’t have an ego anymore, especially if it is not being challenged elsewhere. With a partner or a good friend, you can express to him or her that when the ego or the pain body arises, want that phenomena to be pointed out. If you can make this process conscious rather than trying to keep it down or simply acting out blindly, you will benefit. So, when you’re listening to the other, the most important thing is the listening presence within you. That can transform the relationship at that moment. If both partners have presence, when one loses presence, the other one can be present for them.