Being a story teller myself, always had a thing for this line – ‘ a story has to work well physically, mentally (intellectually), emotionally (socially) and spiritually’. Weirdly, I have somehow ascribed this line to real life scenarios and come to believe (oh well rationalized it too) that my needs (or of any human for that matter) can also be described that way.
Physical needs – food, clothing & shelter (both protective). Perhaps ‘sex’ comes into this zone too. These needs create a mental need about how to satisfy all of those needs. While food, clothing and shelter seem to have created a certain level of social need which itself is another emotional need, the need for sex, rather the instinct to procreate, comes with humongous emotional need.
And perhaps when all of these needs are met (at least to an extent), the need to understand things beyond our understanding, or to simply why we always seem to fear the unknown grows higher which perhaps gives rise to a spiritual need. Or sometimes this need is so high that the other three needs don’t even matter.
As we consciously or otherwise delve into fulfilling these each of these needs we develop a sense of ourselves – a persona, or ego (ego not in the negative sense), a term to coin our conscious mind with all of its thoughts, emotions, experiences and perhaps even expectations all of which are responsible for identity and continuity.
Of course the way languages progress over the years, the term ‘ego’ today is normally meant to point at an individual’s walls built to protect this identity and its continuity. The fiercer the person’s need for this protection, the bigger this person’s ego is said to be.
Today, in some way or the other, we are all egoists, at least I am. And the only way I can deal with my ego without letting it hurt anyone else, and of course me, is to see where my ego stems from. So if my persona has all these four aspects – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual (PMES in short ) then perhaps my ego will have wrapped around each of these aspects, some stronger and some so-so, but definitely around each one of these.
Can understanding Physical Ego, Mental Ego, Emotional Ego and Spiritual Ego help in our over all well being (not as a constant state to be in but as a state that is possible to touch at least few moments in our skewed lives)?
The need to stay healthy and protect physique is extremely high in – sports persons, actors /stage performers, sales/marketing people, and in a weirdly conditioned way to all teenagers and also perhaps for most women.
As their their physique consistently helps them fulfill their mental and emotional needs, they grow more attached to their physique, developing a sense of wall around it – growing what can be called a physical ego. It is not quite unheard about actors or sports persons put their diet and health regimen ahead of their families or improve their craft. Their Physical Ego affects (or sometimes even downplays) their need to nurture or balance the other aspects.
[The same with those who have high mental needs to be fulfilled and hence create a mental ego- scientists, engineers, medical practitioners etc.; the ones who build emotional ego – artists, counselors, teachers, students, politicians ( no wonder university students and politics are somehow closely involved – sigh sigh), etc.; to further elaborate on those who build social ego – citizens of a nation, speakers of a language, parents – relatives, friends etc; those with spiritual ego – gurus, priests, practitioners of a sect or a religion, or even worse simply believers etc. ]
To make matters worse, the development of this defensive ego(s) is itself attached to emotional well being of a person. It’s as if the daily PMES practices (done consciously or otherwise), release some strange hormones in our bodies -making our emotional balance more and more warped, and hence driving us to repeat these exercises, even at the cost of self-worth (examples of people continuing to find and staying in one abusive relationship after the other come to mind). Not that repetition is bad or such practices always result in the negative, but the more we become dependent on these little practices, the more distant we become to the needs of other aspects making us lose out on our over all well being.
What I mean is, in an extreme example, if a professor is so attached to ensure that all the students are treated equally, he/she will have equaled the needs of a physically sick student with that of a mentally capable but socially inept student, perhaps resulting in making the sick student runaway from him/her while the other student feels his talent remains invisible to the professor- thus losing the very essence of being a professor!
I am not sure I understand all of these fully but in the silly little attempts to think them through, I feel like if we can pin point what our major ego is attached to and what our weaker ego is we can attempt to be a balance them by purposefully boosting the weaker one, while we carefully watch what it does to the stronger ego, witnessing how its protective mechanism comes into play. Of course easier said than done.
Also no less difficult is identifying which aspect of the ego is our stronger protective ego. And of course it is extremely risky to get the weaker ego into play where the stronger one once took the center stage.
I personally believe that in today’s society, the one aspect that earns us more money and perhaps a little fame is where our strongest ego is – and the more we get attached to it – the more we intellectualize the whole exercise, distancing it from the other needs and draining the other egos. ( But if my belief was true, why would I be talking about people in abusive relationships – duh?!) Anyways artists losing their touch, doctors becoming careless about patients’ emotional statuses and general conditioning, gurus blinded by the power their words have on their followers etc. are a result of how ego controls the self – the same self that once ventured out to explore and learn through the beautiful world.
So in my case if somehow I bring down my – the emotional ego down and put my mental ego into play, while taking care of my health and psyche in general, I can make use of my abilities better while I stop bullshitting myself about stuff, that somehow, without my own knowledge, turned into obstacles, limiting me from exploring myself. (In someway this entire intellectual discourse on the play of the egos is me trying to give my mental self boost – why does filmy title ‘Mental Hai Kya’ come to my mind?) The only risk though is that while I may have puked something totally stupid idea, the negative feedback may perhaps affect my emotional ego, but the mental ego stills stands to benefit. Hmm…
(Image sources: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/323907398173446215/; https://selkhastings.com/blog-post/awareness-ego-cannot-co-exist/; cherylpastor.com)