The journey of the Ego

Another excerpt from my book Life Patterns (Draft)

At conception you had no self awareness or conscious awarness because of no sensory perception but through pregnancy the unborn child recognises familiar voices and sound. But remember you are still part of another self your mother. The biggest transformation is at birth when you are separated from another self (mother) is when your true journey begins. The baby Ego alerts the mother for food by crying and the patterns of the Ego is learning is for survival.

Being a parent of 4 children most parents recognise when the child grows it becomes the battle of the wills or Egos. Through experience the Ego has to navigate the choices it encounters and learns by experiences of consequences that are rewards or aversions. 

Parenting is very difficult because every child has its own temperament , genetic predispositions and with a multitude of other learning process for both. The Ego survival mode is switched up to the next level when the child enters school with even more reward and aversion choices. The school environment with the educational system shapes the social brain to the choices of them and us preception. The Ego life patterns are becoming a part of the self often dictating the familiar safe choices with the social cues from education, friends, enemies and bullies etc. Returning home the Ego has to navigate the family systems that involve multiple extensions from religious , family , cultural and economic challenges. 

The Ego or self becomes the patterns or moulds that it has been subjected to by others Egos. For example the son will often imitate the men in their lives and in similar fashion the girls the women who been part of their life or vice or versa. Conversely the bad experiences or examples may teach the young Ego to avoid such behaviours with disgust. The Ego is driving the self and as it becomes more familiar with the same patterns or routines it becomes second nature or propels the self on autopilot. The scientist call this the default mode network (DMN) this explains why driving or playing an instrument can become effortless for those who practice such activities. 

Neuroscience has scanned the brain revealing Self-referential processing as a mechanism related to the DMN. The complexity of how we make decisions is not an easy to answer. The different structures in the brain involve many parts of a person personality. Illustrate it in simple way I will give you an example but there is much more involved in the cognitive process.

Imagine the Ego( Self) is going shopping with a desire to buy a new pair of shoes. The Ego always buys the same pair of shoes so it goes to the same shop. The Ego arrives at the shop and sees the shoes in the shop then decides to buy them. The shop assistant says the shoes have gone up in price by 20% due to lack of demand. Now the Ego is so busy and believes it might miss the last bus by focusing attention on it. The Ego brain doesn’t contemplate the 20% increase because it focus is on catching the bus in the future and is not present with the transaction. The Ego does not want to walk home so it hurries with the purchase. In essence the Ego is not self aware of the implications of increased cost that will impact the monetary stability of the Ego as it is too busy in other cognitive processes. The DMN is in autopilot mode not even considering an alternative pair of shoes for lesser price but continues with the same standard pair as usual like pattern. The brain is continuing making evaluations with the best outcomes quickly for the present and future self.

Questions you could ask the Ego by being self aware                                                         

Why don’t you choose different pair of shoes?

Why do you have to have these shoes now?

How does the Ego feel buying other brands?

The questions you could ask the Ego will go back to a life patterns the brain has adapted. This is a simple equation of buying a pair of shoes but the historical journey of the Ego will have often already made the decision before by confirmation bias and other biases on its cognitive journey.


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About Stephen Hyne

I am creative and curious about life. I have a passion for the brain and the psychology of human behaviour. I love the renaissance art, culture and architecture. Music is my best friend follows me on my life journey of discovery.

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