The human ego is essentially the perception of yourself as a separate self. When you learn to call yourself by a name, you learn to see yourself as an ‘it’ or a ‘thing’, which automatically makes you separate from every other ‘it’ or ‘thing’ in the universe. When you are born, your ego is not formed yet because you do not intellectually conceptualize of who you are because you do not think of yourself as a separate thing yet. So, you do not identify with anything yet.
As we grow, we begin to identify with things. Whenever we associate something with our self, we identify with it. It becomes part of us. We make it the same as us. This is what attachment really is. It is identification. And if that thing we identify with is ever threatened, we experience it as a threat to our own survival. If you want to know more about identification and dis-identification, watch my video on YouTube titled: Dis-identification (The Practice of Non Attachment)
I would love to be able to tell you that your identity or ego is entirely the result of authentic self-initiated associations. But it is not. Instead our ego is mostly the result of other initiated associations. That is to say we learn who we are by virtue of what other people associate with us. Other people become the mirror through which we see ourselves. This means if someone in your childhood begins to associate you with artistic ability then you begin to perceive yourself s an artist. You identify with being an artist and that becomes part of your Ego. This means if someone in your childhood associates you with darkness or badness then you begin to perceive yourself in that way. You identify with being dark or bad and this becomes part of your own Ego. Part of why identity becomes so confusing for us is that so many people associate us with different things and many of those things are contradictory.
As you can probably tell without me even spelling it out, it is a real crapshoot whether the people who are around you in childhood (during the development of your sense of separate self) will associate you with something that is an accurate thing to associate you with or not.
Most people are not conscious. They do not think of children as unique beings with their own unique purpose and their own unique gifts. When their children are born, they think of them more like animated dolls. Essentially believing that the child is whoever they want the child to be. They associate the child with whatever they decide they want the child to be associated with. And if the child ever begins to act in a way that defies who they want them to be, they feel personally threatened and begin to associate the child with negative traits. Either way, the child takes on any associations that the parent decides to make with the child. That child’s identity and life then becomes either nothing but an exact replica of what the parents decided for them or a perpetual attempt to try to figure out who they really are despite their parents.
We live in the Emotional Dark Age. People do not know how to emotionally relate to one another. As a result, people do not develop intimacy. Intimacy is essentially seeing into someone, feeling into them, listening to them and understanding them. And ideally, parents would have a high degree of intimacy with their children. If a parent did have a high degree of intimacy with a child, that parent would be able to accurately mirror what was authentically part of the child. For example, when the truth of a child is “I really love dance”, the parent would acknowledge and validate that for the child and thus strengthen the child’s sense of authentic self by doing so. The association the child forms between himself and dance would be authentic because it came from the child first and was then mirrored by the parent.
Positive mirroring is essentially the process of reflecting back to someone what they authentically express either verbally or non verbally so as to allow them to understand that we hear them, see them, feel them and understand them. Positive mirroring is to make their sense of how they are feeling and thinking and who they are valid. An example of positive mirroring is that a child who is going to a new school feels afraid and may get silent and start whining and act resistant to everything. A parent who positively mirrors would come down to the child’s level and feel into the child and try to understand the child enough to figure out what the problem is and then mirror their reality by saying something like “I know that you must feel really afraid about going to a new school and because you’re afraid, you may not want to go to school and anyone who was afraid of going to a new school would feel that way. It’s ok to feel afraid.” And potentially then the parent could help the child brainstorm ways to feel better about going to a new school.
But mirroring is not something that most parents do well. Using the previous scenario, most parents would invalidate the child’s feelings and thoughts by saying something like “it’s the way it is, everyone has to get used to change and you’re lucky you’re even going to a good school when other kids can’t even go to school.” This is a negative mirror. It teaches the child to distrust the way he or she feels because it is “wrong”. This child will not be able to develop a clear sense of self. She will outsource her sense of self to others. And come to believe that she is wrong.
Obviously if you begin to develop awareness and to realize that who you really are (what you really associate with) is an invalidation of who your parents want you to be (what your parents want to associate you with) that they essentially reject you because they reject what you are associated with… the very thing you are identified with. As a result you cannot feel loved by them. For example, if a boy grows up to realize that he is gay and the parents do not want him or her to be gay, they will reject gayness and therefore reject their son because their son is identified with being gay. So, we can say that this son cannot be loved for who he is. Because the people who do not love him for who he is are his parents, he will develop a belief that no one can love him for who he is.
Essentially with most parents the child has to develop attributes that the parent will positively mirror in order to get any love. So their identity is a perfect reflection of their parent’s agenda. The child must develop attributes that feed the needs and wants of the parent to get love from that parent. This is the opposite of unconditional love. This is the opposite of being loved for who they are. If you are interested in figuring out how to develop intimacy and how to positively mirror, I suggest you watch two of my YouTube Videos. The first is: The Emotional Wake Up Call and the second is: How To Connect With Someone.
But what if I told you that the story of why we can’t feel loved for who we are goes much deeper than that?
Because the idea of having intimacy with a child’s internal world is not a concept that most parents even realize exists, most parents do not acknowledge a child except for when they DO something. Especially when that DOING is something done for their benefit. A parent and a child cannot BE with each other. They have to be doing something to be together. And so the only thing that most parents mirror is what a child does. For example, a child throws a ball and the parent says “Wow, great job throwing that ball” and the child then associated their sense of self with throwing the ball… a Doing.
Now I’m about to explain to you in a nutshell why we cannot feel loved for who we are. Because most parents only mirror a child when they are doing something and thus only associate a child with what they DO, we only associate ourselves with what we DO. Our entire identity becomes about what we DO. That becomes our sense of who we are. As a result, it isn’t even that we believe we are what we do. It is that we don’t feel like we exist separate from what we do.
In an extreme case of a child who receives no mirroring in childhood at all (like extreme neglect cases) the child has no sense of identity. A child who is raised by a parent who only mirrors what they DO will have no sense of himself or herself separate of what they DO. Obviously then, we cannot be loved for who we are as opposed to what we do because who we are does not even exist. How can you love something that does not exist?
When we try to think of who we are separate of what we do, we draw a complete blank space. It feels like oblivion. And that is the real reason that we cannot feel loved for who we are, because who we are does not even exist. We have an identity only by virtue of what we do.
So now you know that the real reason why we cannot feel loved for who we are instead of what we do is because we do not even think we exist separate of what we do. Plain and simply, our ego is formed around both the positive and negative things that made us exist for our parents.