Where does an Ego-Reference come from and what does it do?

Which characteristic or behavior becomes anEgo-Reference and which one doesn’t depends on what the young child’s findings are when it tries to adjust to the caregiver’s demanding behavior or to the caregiver’s responses to its own behaviors. The chosen Ego-References might also have to do with the child’s own inclinations and circumstances, and with the conditions and requirements the child senses the caregiver is imposing on them, which are often actually the caregiver’s own Ego-References!

For examples of Ego-References see the page on Examples of Ego-References.

For some children, their mother- or father’s mirroring is failing to provide them with a foundation for the development of a healthy Sense of your Self. They are not getting mirroring of themselves as independent, autonomously-existing human beings, but as pawns in emotional games. Then they naturally and subconsciously move into a strategy that is meant to help them get their needs sort of met in some way, so the process of the development of some version of a Sense of Self can take place. Due to the lack of proper mirroring, development of a Natural Sense of Self has failed, but the process of trying to establish something that comes closest to it goes on, because a person can’t be without some form of core. (See the discussion about ‘spine.’)

When we are prevented by the wrong mirroring from developing natural Sense of Self, Nature puts in place a substituting structure (Substitute Sense of Self) through which we get something resembling a point of reference in life, what should be motivating us. That is supposed to be the Self but there is no Sense of Self developing because no one is regarding us as a Self, merely as an extension of their own needs and wants. This Substitute Sense of Self is experienced in proportion to the degree to which the child fulfills or doesn’t fulfill any of the Ego-References (which form the basis or doorway to the Substitute Sense of Self) at a given time.

As a baby, toddler, and young child, in the unhealthy situation, we depended on our caregiver’s judgment for the degree to which we would feel good about ourselves, which gave us some semblance of experiencing a ‘self-hood.’ That’s just how life is for us, so later in life with our parent not around anymore, we can make ourselves ‘feel-good-about-ourselves’ by working hard to fulfill the Ego-References – which are nothing but (a) the now virtual, internalized judgments of our caregiver or (b) our own reactions to our upbringing.  Example of (a): I see my mother is in awe of people who can play music by ear. If I am able to do that too, she will also be in awe of me, and then I will feel good about myself, so I need to be able to play music by ear.

Example of (b): In a family ‘a pleasant atmosphere’ is what life is all about. When coming home with a problem like being late, not feeling well, not being happy for some reason, you get negative vibes. A child who is dependent on the approval of the parent and grows up in that family knows that and makes sure to come home ‘covering up all that is not well’. It becomes an Ego-Reference for the child to make sure that ‘they don’t have a problem’.

In order to get the best result from acting to fulfill our Ego-References (and note: there is no room for failure as our Substitute Sense of Self is at stake) we need to be in control of all the circumstances related to fulfilling our Ego-References. A big part of our lives is therefore spent on anticipating the perfect set-up for fulfilling the Ego-References.

An example: Say my Ego-Reference is ‘becoming/being a good musician. I have to go to catch the bus at 8.15 am to go to school. I make sure that I have cleaned up all the stuff that is ‘morning related’ (make my bed, do the dishes, clean up breakfast stuff, do the laundry etc0 so when I come later in the day, there is no ‘hindrance’ on my path to practicing my music so I can become a great musician, so I can please my parent, so I can ‘feel-good-about-Self‘ as a Substitute Sense of Self.

I haven’t dedicated much time to this phenomenon but do emphasis that it is a big part of a Substitute Sense of Self-dependent person: Anticipation to be able to work on the Ego-References is highly stress-producing.

Another example (as a mother of a young family): You have to prepare the food for the family and work on your Ego-References at the same time. My stress at times would be so high that I could not but slowly move my hands while pealing the potatoes, something I would want to do in a split second, in order to get back to my violin. It felt as if my life depended on it.

We do that by controlling our circumstances through organizing and planning, hoping that way to avoid hindrances and optimize our time to work on the Ego-References. We try to get people to do what would work in our favor; we try to make people feel in whatever way that is advantageous for us. We try to deny whatever feelings in ourselves would potentially thwart a positive outcome in fulfilling the Ego-References, and ultimately of the realization of the Hidden Agenda which is the Substitute Sense of Self. In short, we are compulsively controlling our environment and ourselves.

Where the reader goes next….