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The Ego and the Self



The Whole Person Blog: Week Seven, Day Five, Part 2/2 - The Ego and the Self

Writings inspired by Steven Pressfield: The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

The War of Art and Self Sabotage here

Overcoming Resistance and Why Talent Doesn't Matter here

Lessons from the Original Spartans here

Thursday, February 13th, 2020


Pressfield writes:


"Tom Laughlin, the Jungian-schooled psychologist, has a specialty of working with people who have been diagnosed with cancer. Tom says the moment a person learns he's got terminal cancer, a profound shift takes place in his psyche. At one stroke in the doctor's office, he becomes aware of what really matters to him. The thing that sixty seconds earlier had seemed all-important suddenly appear meaningless, while people and concerns that he had till then dismissed at once take on supreme importance."


During his presentations, Laughlin draws a diagram of the psyche, a Jungian-derived model that looks something like this:


The outer circle represents the Self, while the center point represents the ego. The ego, Jung tells us, is that part of the psyche that we think of as "I." Our conscious intelligence and everyday brain that thinks, plans, and runs the show of our day-to-day life. While the Self is a greater entity, which includes the ego, it also incorporates the Personal and Collective Unconscious, where dreams and intuitions emanate, considered the sphere of our soul. Laughlin contends that in those moments, the seat of our consciousness shifts from ego to the Self.


Tom's foundation battles cancer by counseling his clients not just to make that shift mentally but to live it out in their lives. He supports the housewife in resuming her career in social work, urges the businessman to return to the violin, assists the Vietnam vet to write his novel.


Miraculously, cancers go into remission. People recover. Has the disease itself evolved as a consequence of actions taken (or not taken) in our lives? Could our unlived lives have exacted their vengeance upon us in the form of cancer? And if they did, can we cure ourselves, now, by living these lives out?"


As a MindBodySpirit® Coach, it seems I do this work before people are diagnosed with terminal illnesses, which quite possibly minimizes the risk of them developing in the first place. In my research, I'm noticing the thing that keeps my clients from leading the lives they want to live is that it contradicts the lessons they've learned during their formative years. If you were never able to please your parents who had high expectations, it's safer to do nothing and avoid disappointing them, than it is to try and let them down, even though that was thirty years ago.


"Ego is to the True Self what a flashlight is to a spotlight." John Bradshaw

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