Limiting beliefs have become a widely recognized cause of people being stuck in their own lives. How does the ego play into that?

Ego is like a filing system for your beliefs
Ego is like a filing system for your beliefs

The human ego is a mechanism for categorizing information. It determines patterns of good or bad experiences, so you can seek pleasure and avoid pain. To use a very simple example, if you have seen that a dog can bite people or you have been bitten yourself, your ego might decide that to avoid pain you must avoid all dogs. 

Once your ego has seen enough evidence to establish a pattern, a belief is formed that “dogs are dangerous”, and then it starts to solidify. It uses future experiences to provide evidence that the belief is valid and discounts any evidence to the contrary. So even when you see your friend’s dog lick her face and sit playfully in her lap, you’re watching it through a filter that tells you “any minute that dog could bite someone.” As soon as the doorbell rings and the dog starts barking, you’re running in a panic convinced that it’s coming after you. 

The protection is useful, but quite limiting when you’re trying to change old beliefs or find broader options for your life. The problem is that the ego is determined to validate itself, and is not designed to incorporate new information into an established belief.  So, while you might be faced with clear evidence that “golden retrievers don’t bite” or “some dogs are safe,” your ego is only seeing the barking and the (imaginary) threat to your life. 

To draw on a more relevant example, if you have been through a series of painful rejections and have a belief that rejections are to be avoided at all cost, you may meet the partner of your dreams but only see the “evidence” of how he or she will someday reject you. Given that lens, you might either give up too soon, or cause so much damage by worrying about it that it ends on its own. Otherwise, you might be in a career environment that supports all of your potential, but shy away from advancement opportunities that carry the risk of a possible rejection. 

With a new understanding of how this works, there are two things you can do to break the cycle. 

First, resolve the fear that established the pattern in the first place. If you believe that whatever happened in the past can just stay in the past while you make changes in the present, your ego will definitely have something to say about that. If you have been unable to move forward and you hold your limiting beliefs at fault for that, the ego has already made its point. 

For this challenge, I recommend EFT. You can either try it on your own to see how far you get, or enroll a qualified professional to zero in on the issues more directly. Either way, be sure you can verify with some kind of testing that the events you address no longer carry the emotional impact.

Second, you can learn to step outside your ego and start accepting new information into your belief system. This is easier said than done, especially while the beliefs and their related fears are still in place. Even without them, you will still have an ego that is trying to protect you and will not appreciate the chaos of reorganizing the entire structure. 

If you can develop enough ego-awareness to notice when it’s happening, and then enough courage to operate without the protection, your horizons will become broader every day. 

Follow me to the next blog for one way to start developing that skill. 

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