How our ego develops
A child is born without any consciousness of his own self. He has no ego, no concept of ‘self’ at all. In the earliest months of his life he does not even recognise that he is separate from his mother.
As his awareness of his independent identity starts to develop, he lacks the knowledge and experience needed to form an accurate picture of himself, so his only guide is the reaction of others to him. This creates a base from which his self-identity develops, and on this reflected awareness his ego starts to form.
At first He is only aware of the mother and her interaction with him and, dependent on her own ego and the parenting style, leads him to a conclusion about himself that usually sets him on a path for later life.
At this point his immediate world, consisting mainly of his immediate family or primary carers, feeds back to him what they believe he is or could be, which in some cases of troubled adult egos could be very far from his true self.
Since a young child literally believes everything he is fed back about himself, he simply ‘grows’ into their image of his ego, be it a positive or a negative one. If the parenting or his immediate societal environment is very dominant his true ego might have a very hard time even being recognised by him, let alone allowed to develop freely. In extreme cases his own ego may stay so under-developed that it portrays nothing more than a carbon copy of his parents or his society, whose reflections he no longer sees as being separate from himself.
If, on the other hand, his early experiences lead him to identify a positive and accepting feedback, he gains strength and stability, giving him a much better chance of staying true to his own ego as he moves into the complexities of adult life.
Development of Alter-Egos
As his world grows, the feedback becomes less reliable, either as a result of others’ ignorance or their manipulative, self-serving motives which he may not be able to identify due to his, as yet, immature and inexperienced ego . Others’ subjective reflections create a complex and diverse feedback, which his ego finds increasingly difficult to accommodate and adjust to.
The ego has a constant need for recognition and acceptance. As he grows the child learns that fitting in with expectations rather than being his true self provides the physical or psychological stroking that he so craves. The self-ego takes a back seat and the alter-ego is born.
As his interactions with the society become more demanding and more complex, staying true to himself becomes progressively more difficult. In order to gain sufficient acceptance as he moves forward through his adulthood, he might find himself frequently foregoing his true identity. Fitting in creates an ever increasing portfolio of alter-egos, each new ego progressively easier to slip into, until it becomes a process so automated that he does not even realise it is taking place.
Alter-Egos are a necessary part of existence
Alter-Ego creation is not something to be feared or suppressed. It is a natural process that gets activated when we find ourselves in situations that our learned or inherent resources are insufficient to deal with.
We create an alter ego as a stop-gap place, then slip into it whilst we process the situation and find ways of managing it. Once the learning is complete, we incorporate it into our true self and the Alter-Ego terminates.
But there are times when this process doesn’t follow the pattern, and rather than to learn and terminate we end up using the Alter-Ego time and time again, whenever the situation presents itself.
Most commonly this happens when we choose to override our true self in order to achieve something we mistakenly believe is more important than being true to who we really are. It can come about through making a career or a lifestyle choice or through placing desires of others’ before our own, leading to a life never true to who we really are, but lived through many Alter-Egos.
How many is too many?
Short lived Alter-Egos created as a learning tool are never a problem, but those that hang on are. In a nutshell, any permanent Alter-Ego is one too many! The presence of many alter-egos makes for a progressively more complex personality, sometimes becoming hard for even ourselves to know who we really are and what our true needs might be.
Further development of the Ego
If the child’s early ego was dominated by overpowering parenting, he might start to permanently substitute his own ego with an alter-ego fitting in with the parents or societal values. Adding to this the possibility of equally as complex personality of his ‘other half’, his family and his friends provides a very fertile ground for many ‘personal’ issues to develop, creating a need for even more alter-egos.
Perhaps at some point he realises that things are not quite as he set out for them to be, and although not exactly certain of what they should be, he is nevertheless driven to start looking for answers. He is unlikely to recognise that the complexity is created by the alter-ego dominance and its suppression of his True Self.
Unless he embarks on a path that leads to some type of spiritual enlightenment or personal development, his need to fit in becomes a way of life as he ages. The rebellion of youth gives way to a need for societal belonging, and therefore fitting-in becomes his priority. By now he is well practiced at it, and is likely to have a whole library of alter-egos, ready to slip into when the situation calls for one.
If he is lucky enough to stumble upon some pointers along this journey, he might one way or another deal with some of these issues and get to the self-actualisation point. If he does, he may intuitively start to become aware of the alter-egos and his use of them. As his acceptance and approval shift to becoming internally generated his fitting-in needs diminish, he is happy to be himself and at ease with his true ego.
Alter-Egos and Alternate Realities
If we find ourselves spending much of our time in permanent Alter-Egos, the next step in this mistaken ‘coping’ is to create an Alternate Reality.
Here the Alter-Egos have total dominance, and for some living in these Alternate Realities becomes an increasingly complex and unsatisfying way of life.
When someone is in an Alter-Ego they will of course behave different to their true self, but they will look, act and sound different too. An eyebrow might be raised, lips tightly pursed, voice have a different pitch, a different laugh, and many other easy give-aways for an observer familiar to the person. If you capture these Alter-Egos photographically, you will be amazed at the amount of easily noticeable changes in their appearance!
To keep or let go?
Living your life in Alter-Egos and Alternative Realities is not pleasant, not right and certainly not the easy way to live.
During a HEART Healing consultation all Alter-Egos and Alternative Realities are cleared. Although your head initially feels like someone had literally emptied it out, after a few minutes this gives way to a peaceful, easy feeling of everything being ‘right’.
Ian Stone – Metaphysician & Creator of