If you’re a human walking around on this planet, there are two parts of you. These parts are physically demonstrated by your brain. It has two sides, the left and the right, and they each have different worldviews.
The left brain lives through the five senses and the intellect – it sees the world as separate parts and wants to figure it out. The right brain lives through feel and intuition – it sees the world as an undivided whole and just knows.
The ego operates through the left brain. The Self operates through the right brain (and the heart).
The ego is your identity in the material world. It says, when I see (touch, taste, hear, or smell) it, I will believe it. The Self exists outside the physical realm. It says, believe it and then you will see it.
The ego is the voice in your head that wants you to stay small and keep things manageable. It says the world is a dangerous place. It doesn’t want you to change anything because it likes to be in control.
Do you have a heartfelt dream? If you get up the courage to reach for it, or even think about it, it’s the ego that gives you a thousand reasons to worry, be afraid, and sit back down on the couch.
Meanwhile, the Self calls you forward to expand and elevate. It‘s the source of your dream. It knows you are far greater than you have the capacity to imagine.
And if you can manage to look past the ego’s scare tactics, the Self will show you the way.
I offer this passage from The War of Art to go deeper:
Here’s what the Ego believes:
- Death is real. The Ego believes that our existence is defined by our physical flesh. When the body dies, we die. There is no life beyond death.
- Time and space are real. The Ego is analog. It believes that to get from A to Z we have to pass through B, C, and D. To get from breakfast to supper we have to live the whole day.
- Every individual is different and separate from every other. The Ego believes that I am distinct from you. The twain cannot meet. I can hurt you and it won’t hurt me.
- The predominant impulse of life is self-preservation. Because our existence is physical and thus vulnerable to innumerable evils, we live and act out of fear in all we do. It is wise, the Ego believes, to have children to carry on our line when we die, to achieve great things that will live after us, and to buckle our seat belts.
- There is no God. No sphere exists except the physical and no rules apply except those of the material world.
These are the principles the Ego lives by. They are sound solid principles.
Here’s what the Self believes:
- Death is an illusion. The soul endures and evolves through infinite manifestations.
- Time and space are illusions. Time and space operate only in the physical sphere, and even here, don’t apply to dreams, visions, transports. In other dimensions we move “swift as thought” and inhabit multiple planes simultaneously.
- All beings are one. If I hurt you, I hurt myself.
- The supreme emotion is love. Union and mutual assistance are the imperatives of life. We are all in this together.
- God is all there is. Everything that is, is God in one form or another. God, the divine ground, is that in which we live and move and have our being. Infinite planes of reality exist, all created by, sustained by and infused by the spirit of God.”
Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
Our most critical work, if we so choose, is to recognize these two aspects at work within us and then decide —
Do we want to believe in our dreams or our limitations?
Note: The War of Art is short, concise, and filled with multi-layered wisdom. It’s one of the most read books on my bookshelf. If you’re interested in artistic or entrepreneurial pursuits, buy it. You won’t be sorry.