When ‘Ego is the Enemy’ becomes ‘Egos [plural] are the Helpers’… [PART 1]

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When ego is the enemy becomes egos are the helpers, a great shift happens.

Yesterday evening I was thinking about writing this post. EGO is certainly not the enemy, as we need EGO — Earth Guide Only — to help us with all our humaning. Depending on the phrasing that you prefer, you may consider what’s going on within our minds ego states, schemas, parts, or EGOs, noting that there is more than one. We are not showing up with a single, universal personality. We don’t have monominds, rather we acknowledge multiplicity of mind.

In The SQ Workshop we refer to the human body as the biological spacesuit. It comes with helpers… EGO’s (aka “parts”). Here is an example of EGOs in action:

According to research, most people (90% of US adults) believe that death is not the end. Integrating the post-materialistic view (aka quantum perspective), we can call the core essence of ourselves that endures our Quantum Self. (And if you’re in the 10% who fall in the “when you’re dead, you’re dead” camp you can still relate to this, as our core essence isn’t a tangible thing.)

  • human (form)
  • being (formless)

Our perfect, formless aspect — our I-am-ness, our Quantum Self, our Quantum Spirit — is projected through a biological spacesuit that comes with many nifty features and functions. This suit is constantly wiring and re-wiring itself based on what we experience and learn… based on our physiology, thoughts… so many things can cause a lil tweak over here or there. Yes it wants us to create, and love, and play and thrive (why else are we here?), but in order to do that it needs to stay alive amidst the f*ckery of form.

We’re born with multiplicity of mind (a feature of the suit), and I do personally like calling them EGOs. I also often call them parts, because that’s how we naturally speak. And Richard Schwartz, PhD, founder of the science-backed Internal Family Systems model (IFS) also uses the term “parts” and tells us that we are all born with parts. Around since the leg warmer days (the 80’s), now evidence-backed IFS acknowledges that we all have different parts, like members of a family within us, each with its own perspective, feelings, and memories. They all have naturally beneficial roles and resources within the system. There are also No Bad Parts. No bad parts? That food frenzy part in the image below seems bad to me!?! Well, as it turns out, that food frenzy part has helpful intent. (Does helpful intent translate into actually helpful or “helpful,” e.g. not at all helpful at this stage of the game?)

And so, I was noodling on it while walking to the pool (meaning the hot tub… you might have heard about my ice cube toes). I had a book in tow. My sister had lent me this book, and she’s coming to town this weekend, so I wanted to check it out. Well, lookie look what was in that very book:

Belong: Find Your People, Create Community, and Live a More Connected Life, by Radha Agrawal

I got super excited (as I do), but it’s not really a surprise. We all experience this particular variety of multiplicity of mind: conflicting parts within us. TV shows capture it:

Yep! From the Flintstones, to Herman’s Head, to the kids’ movie Inside Out. These EGOs (plural) are part of the human condition. As I mentioned above, the science-backed IFS Model gets into multiplicity of mind (versus a mono-mind) view. We don’t have just one personality, we have sub-personalities. The parts work we can do as we delve into IFS (either on our own or, with a medical professional if there is suspected disorder involved) is a game changer and it’s so easy to get on board with because this is what we experience as humans, and we speak to this by saying things like “Part of me wants to go for a run, but another part of me wants to go buy a donut instead.”

Even Spotify gets it:

Again, in addition to calling this multiplicity of mind parts, other (related) terms which are often used are ego states and schemas, and I’m sure many more. I like to go with EGOs. Why? It was the great Wayne Dyer, PhD who dubbed EGO = Earth Guide Only. I also end up saying parts, because that’s what comes naturally to me.

We know (experience that) we don’t have just one egoic state, we really have EGO’s [plural]… EARTH GUIDES ONLYs. I asked my robot friend to create a biological spacesuit with an entire family living in the helmet. This is what I got:

Trying again with the prompt “a spacesuit with a bunch of cartoon cute animals living inside of the helmet area” this is what I got:

So there was a little robot-human teamwork at play when I made these:

No matter how you try to picture it, everything our minds and bodies do is based in helpful intent.

Well, as we all know… helpful intentions turn into:

  • actually being helpful
  • being “helpful” (not helpful at all… like the time I was being “helpful” and tried to fix our toilet and it ended up with a little hole that shot water up and out into the sky)

Parts ALWAYS have good intentions. The part of me that would say “You deserve to relax with some wine tonight,” was helping to distract me from the super sh!tty life I had once my work environment turned so toxic that three people cried at the office in the course of just a few days. (And yes, I was one of them.)

This winky-eyed alcohol suggester part within me would be a special kind of part that Richard Schwartz, PhD, founder of IFS would call a firefighter… it was dousing the pain (this is reactive protection). Our parts are trying to help and protect us best they can. Some put out fires, some step into manager roles (proactive protection — to keep the exiles banished and the pain away).

Managers are welcomed (and praised) by society because they are “helpful” in that we go-go-go, do-do-do, work-work-work kind of way. Their “helpfulness” can also be over the top and come into a polarization with other parts who chime in to say things like “This b!itch has to pee!” Or perhaps a rebel part pops up to say “F*ck this, let’s go have some beer!”

According to Schwartz, we are born with our parts and they all come with resourcefulness and truly helpful qualities. Based on circumstances and events, a part may suffer a wound. This part is often banished by the system. It holds the pain. It is what Schwartz calls an exile. Then other parts step up to protect the system from the pain’s potential to flood the system.

It’s always a matter of helpful or “helpful.” No bad parts. EGO is not the enemy. Ego’s are the helpers (or “helpers”). So release the idea of “self sabotage” and think more along the lines of self protection and is this helpful or “helpful”?

In our lives, and in their “helpfulness,” parts take on roles, again, because they have good intentions. Often these roles are quite extreme. We may be inclined to bash our parts, and keep doing so, like a game of whack-a-mole. But that’s not the answer. IFS has a series of steps to go through, called the 6 F’s. Once a part releases the extreme role, they can take on a more beneficial role… brining harmony to the internal system.

In the book An Internal Family Systems Guide to Recovery from Eating Disorders Healing Part by Part, Amy Yandel Grabowski presented the idea of parts acting on a continuum from “balance” to “extreme.” Beneath Theodore’s paw you can see that the kid part can be playful and fun when it’s most balanced and when extreme, it may be anxious, defensive, etc.

We would all want to get to know our own parts. Map out yer own darn parts. 😉 How do they help us when they are in balance and how do they “help” us when they get extreme?

IFS welcomes all parts, and acknowledges that even extreme parts have good intentions. This post has been focusing on the ‘human’ aspect of the term ‘human being.” What about the being aspect?

The ‘you’ that is ‘not a part’, is Self. (I equate Self with Spirit and like to use Quantum Self as this ties the quantum, post-materialistic perspective to IFS quite nicely.) When we show up with Self Energy we are compassionate, calm, connected, curious, courageous, caring, creative, and have clarity. These qualities that we have access to when we are in Self Energy are called the 8 C’s. When we are infused with Self Energy. (If you’ve been following Art & Magik, this is where I’d say we have “more translucent” mindstuff — mindstuff that allows our am-ness to shine through.)

The way I see it: Our foundation of being-ness (spirit, am-ness) is connect to a wider Field of Being… a conscious universe. Part of what struck me about IFS is the Richard Schwartz, PhD says that Self is like light.. a particle and a wave… the form and the formless.

When we see indignities, lack of compassion, chaos and crime in the world, we are seeing people showing up, facing each other extreme part to extreme part.

Can you imagine if we took a moment to get into Self Energy? If we showed up heart to heart, soul to soul, spirit to spirit? If we showed up with (#teamworkmakesthedreamwork) an internal family that was led by Self / Self energy?

Extreme parts and internal disharmony is LOUD and tends to block out our 100% perfect spirit:

When we have internal harmony and healed parts, those parts can be guided by spirit. We still need those Earth Guide Onlys:

…but now spirit is not being covered over and we can connect to our intuitive spirit and beyond:

I moved the rest of this post here, into a Part 2.

Things you can try:

  • Simply noticing your parts, welcoming them, and following the 6 F’s: Find, Focus, Flesh out, Feel toward, Befriend, Fear (what does this part fear will happen if it stops doing what it is doing to “help” you?)
  • Check out posts on BnB that are tagged IFS.
  • A lot of these images are from my book Am-fullness… check it out if you are interested in getting the full download as to how I view and experience this SQ stuff. The idea of helpful or “helpful” is elaborated on in my book Ever-stressed.
  • Join noetic.org… it’s quite inexpensive and you can catch awesome live webcasts and replays. Maybe this suggestion doesn’t super-apply to this post, but go do it anyway. <3
  • Watch this video and be sure to check out the article here for awesome notes.
  • Look at these cards — an amazing description of all kinds of parts! (These are also for sale on Amazon as well.)