Allora oggi . . . a thought-provoking podcast about ego was on the menu today. The dialogue between a couple of astrologers and another woman who is the director of some spiritual school that uses the enneagram as a tool to classify persona archetypes, kind of like the Myers-Briggs type indicator on steroids . . . at least that’s how they portrayed the enneagram. The premise of her argument is that the ego gets a bad rap in our culture. Yes, agreed, that is what I tell my clients anyway. Something that strikes me as quite amusing about this idea relates to a graduate school homework assignment, which I was obligated to give. When I taught a social work practice and theory class to graduates students, one of the homework assignments entailed an elaborate list of behaviors. The students were expected to classify the behaviors and match the behavior with a type of “defense mechanism”. On some level I thought the assignment was absurd and I bristled at the notion of labeling certain behaviors as “defense mechanism” when really it just seemed to me a creative way of coping with being a human being.

Another super intriguing aspect of the podcast was how the guest host elaborated on the notion that ego is a coping mechanism for how human beings try to connect to “spirit”. Ego can get in the way of that connection when unconscious thoughts are driving the bus. So for me, the interesting thing with this topic is how to use the information when working with people through my Minerva Group consulting. Honestly, everything I do with the Minerva group consulting is about discovering ways to acknowledge the unconscious aspects of human behavior and noticing the dysfunctional dynamics as a result. The other attractive aspect is how to use the information to benefit clients through astrology chart interpretation. Using the information from their natal astrological charts to help them understand the concept of ego without judgment but with awareness.

So here’s an example of an unconscious thought at play. The other day I received a summons in the mail. My initial reaction was guilt, quickly followed by relief that my spouse was not home to see the summons in case I needed to either hide the summons or find a way to explain its existence. How crazy is that? My first respond to seeing the summons ignited a pang of fear in spite of the fact that I have not intentionally done anything “wrong”. What is it about human beings or maybe it’s something about my nature “ego”, that went straight to guilty as charged in spite of the evidence. By the way, the summons was for jury duty. As I reflect on this scenario as it relates to the ego podcast discussion, I feel as if this is a concept worth exploring.

An additional matter from the podcast was linked to the idea about connection to “spirit” and encompasses that each of us is looking to be loved; to love; to feel as if we have contributed to something and to feel fulfilled. So interesting how this message has returned after initially hearing it close to 15 years ago when a friend and I bought those Tony Robbins tapes. From the hours of tapes and all the information offered, it was the point about every human being wanting to be challenged; to feel safe; to be loved and to love and contribute to something bigger than themselves that stuck in my memory. These notions about connection can also be exploited for more sinister intentions such as violence and terror. For example, the way gangs use the need for connection, as a recruitment tool is on some level quite sophisticated. It also reminds me of an interview I recently heard with a Canadian woman whose son was recruited into ISIS and became a suicide bomber. It’s fascinating how ISIS is using these same principles to recruit westerners. The important point in all of this is to understand the primal need for connection. Someplace in our reptilian brain, we yearn for connection and we allow that yearning to undermine our serenity in life. Is there a way that we can support one another in meeting our needs regarding connection in a way that does not condone or include violence and destructive behavior? How do we bring to light this unconscious human need along with the associated unconscious behavior patterns that f—up everything we say we want?