Ego and Soul: Opponents or Partners?

I love to read for so many reasons: for inspiration, for education, and just for the fun of it! I read because it expands my world and introduces me to new people and new perspectives. I read, as C. S. Lewis said, “to know we are not alone.” And I read because, every now and then, an author takes a thought that I’d had, but hadn’t been able to put into words, and articulates it far more eloquently than I could’ve done. I recently had this experience (again and again and again) while reading Jodi Chapman’s new book, Soul Bursts.

I love so many things about this book (and not just because Jodi is my amazing wife!).  I love that it’s authentic, vulnerable, and uplifting. I love that it’s simple yet profound, personal yet universal. And I love that, as I read it, I found myself saying, Yes! THANK you! — not just once or twice, but on almost every single page — as she gave voice to so many important truths. Although I could choose from hundreds of examples, for this post, I’ll focus on just one sentence (from the chapter “What Do You Believe?”):

“I believe that the soul and the ego are in partnership rather than opposition.”

Thank you!

So often, I’ve read books that rail against the ego as if it were some demonic force sent to ruin all that’s good in the world — or a parasite living within you that must be contained (or, better yet, destroyed). Although I’m sure all those authors meant well and have some valid points, something about this underlying premise never quite sat right with me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it…until Jodi did!

Once I started thinking of the soul and ego as partners, rather than opponents, it made perfect sense. Now, in fact, to see them any other way seems almost absurd. And once I started to see the soul and the ego as partners, I started thinking about almost everything this way! And why not? Think about it:

  • Are your eyes in opposition to your ears?
  • Are your hands in opposition to your feet?
  • Is what you eat in opposition to what you drink?
  • Is your car in opposition to your bicycle?

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point: the different parts of our lives — and ourselves — can work together as a team rather than working against each other.  In different situations, one part might take the lead or be more appropriate (such as using a car for traveling long distances and a bike for short distances, using your hands to type and your feet to walk, etc.). And sometimes they work in tandem as partners (such as enjoying a movie with your eyes and ears, or loving someone with your head and your heart).

The same goes for your body and spirit, your ego and your soul — they can be on the same team! They don’t have to be opponents, fighting each other to the death. You don’t have to choose one and reject the other. It’s not either/or. (At least, it doesn’t have to be!)

You can embrace your human side — including your physicality, your mind, and even your ego — while still living a deeply spiritual life guided by your soul. You can use the so-called “lower” parts of you — such as drive, ambition, and a sense of your individuality — in the service of (so-called) higher goals (such as uplifting others through art, charity, and compassionate service).

Think about it: Why would God/Nature create a part of you whose sole function was to thwart another part of you? I simply don’t believe it. To me, this would be as absurd as your body having lungs (for breathing) and “anti-lungs” (which made it harder to breathe…unless you renounced them). Of course, this is ludicrous. But I don’t believe it’s any more ludicrous than thinking that inherent parts of who we are — our thoughts and emotions, our hands and feet, or our ego and soul — are somehow designed to be pitted in eternal opposition.

Yes, if you believe that one part of you works against another, I’m sure you can turn this belief into a self-fulfilling prophecy — and experience this as your truth. But it’s not necessary! The different parts of you can fight against each other, but they can also complement one another in beautiful ways — working in alignment for your highest good.

And the implications can extend far beyond individuals — the same concept applies to possibilities for harmonious cooperation between people with different interests, professions, backgrounds, religions, or even nations. This shift in perspective can literally change your entire worldview…and the world!

So, within your own life, which way would you rather see it and experience it — fighting yourself every step of the way…or working as a harmonious team? It’s your choice.

Of course, everything I’ve written here is just a roundabout way of saying what Jodi put into a single short sentence: “I believe that the soul and the ego are in partnership rather than opposition.”

P.S. To learn all about Soul Bursts (and to see a preview of it), please visit www.jodichapman.com/soulbursts/.

Goes to Show, You Don’t Ever Know

I recently experienced a frustrating — but ultimately eye-opening and heart-opening — situation with a company I’d contracted to do some work around my house. The situation was that they never showed up and never returned my calls…even after they’d been paid for the work.

Because they’re a reputable company, I wasn’t worried that they’d split the country with the money I’d already paid (a relatively small amount, fortunately); I was more just confused. I couldn’t help wondering: Didn’t they want the work?  Didn’t they want the rest of the money I would’ve paid them (if they would actually show up and do the […] Continue Reading…

I’ll Have What She’s Having

If you’ve ever seen the movie When Harry Met Sally, you undoubtedly remember the famous scene of Meg Ryan, um, “faking it” in the deli. (Even if you haven’t seen the movie, chances are you’ve seen this clip in one of the countless montages it’s featured in.) And, in either case, you also probably remember the “topper” line that closes the scene (delivered by the director’s mother, Estelle Reiner): “I’ll have what she’s having.”

Aside from its raunchy comedic value, this line offers great advice about relationships, business, and just about every other area of life: Rather than trying to […] Continue Reading…

What’s Next?

Have you ever experienced (or witnessed) any of these scenarios?:

You just got married, and people immediately start asking you when you’re going to have kids.
You just experienced a loss or setback, and people immediately start trying to “help” you move forward.
You just finished a major project, and people immediately start asking you what you’re going to do next.
You watch a sports team celebrate winning the championship, and a reporter asks about their plans for next season.

In these situations (or any similar ones), the questions all boil down to the same essence: What’s next?

What’s next on the agenda? What are you going […] Continue Reading…

My (Belated) Words of the Year

For the past few years, I’ve come up with a word of the year — something that encapsulated my desired focus and aspirations for the coming 12 months. I fully expected to do the same this year as well, but when January 1 rolled around, I just wasn’t feeling it.

No single word was calling to me — and the words that did keep springing into my mind (such as anger, bewilderment, disgust, and disillusionment) were hardly ones that I wanted to serve as my theme for the year! But trying to force myself to “fake it till I make it” […] Continue Reading…

And for my next act…

Yesterday, Jodi and I (along with over 250 contributing authors) launched our new book, 365 Life Shifts: Pivotal Moments That Changed Everything. I am so grateful to everyone who contributed to this collection (the third volume of the 365 Book Series), the hundreds of people who promoted it (which helped it become an instant #1 bestseller on Amazon), and the thousands of people who will read it and open their hearts to these true stories of transformation.

As I reflect on this project, I realize that it came about at a perfect time for me, although it didn’t always feel this […] Continue Reading…

The Upside of Anger

I used to think that anger was always bad. Growing up, I got the message that it was an unacceptable emotion. And as a young adult, I thought that it was somehow “unspiritual.” More recently, however, my perspective has changed.

I still don’t think that anger is a fun emotion to feel or a fun “place” to hang out (and I’m extremely wary of those who make it their home), but I’ve come to see that there is an upside of anger.

As I now see it, here are three of anger’s biggest benefits:

1. It allows you to practice self-acceptance and […] Continue Reading…

Hold the Light

For most people, this is one of the most festive times of the year. And, for most of my life, the same has been true for me.

I generally love the holiday season, and last year I had one of the best Christmases of my life, as Jodi and I made our first trip to the beach in our new hometown.

But this year, if I’m being honest, I’m not really feeling the holiday spirit. Between the election, recent world events, and the general tone of public discourse, I’ve often found my recent moods swinging between blah and yuck.

Fortunately, though, I know […] Continue Reading…

Be the Change

During this time of deep personal (and, to a large extent, national and international) grief, I find myself looking for rays of light and glimmers of hope.

As I mentioned in my two previous posts, I often draw inspiration from spiritual quotes and the Abraham-Hicks teachings; so now I’m combining these by taking an Abe approach to one of my favorite quotes:
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”*
– Mahatma Gandhi
I’ve been thinking about these words in relation to the Abraham teaching of contrast — namely, that when something clearly shows you what you don’t want, it helps you […] Continue Reading…

My Top 7 (Non-Abe) Inspirational Quotes

What’s your favorite inspirational quote? Do you have one (or several) that you find yourself thinking about again and again?

Although I’ve been inspired by countless quotes, there are about a dozen that I regularly reflect on — words that I find myself coming back to again and again for guidance, solace, and inspiration. In my previous post, I shared my seven favorites from the Abraham-Hicks teachings. Now, I’d like to share my seven “non-Abe” favorites, along with some thoughts about them.

You may have already seen some of these (perhaps numerous times) making the rounds on Facebook or elsewhere, while others might be new to you; but, in either case, I […] Continue Reading…