Sonya Thomas lcsw

The Five Mindsets of Ego

In How to be an Adult in Relationships, David Richo shares the five major mental habits (mindsets) that impair ones ability to be present and safely connected to self and others in the present moment.  These mindsets distort reality, create internal and external turmoil, and make it hard to give and/or receive love.  We are all vulnerable; no one is immune to the possibility of the five mindsets of ego to intrude upon our authentic, unconditionally loving presence.  Here they are:

  • Fear – Perceiving a threat or worrying about a situation or person and then maneuvering  to defend oneself.**
  • Desire  – That this moment or person will meet our demands or expectations, fill our emotional needs, or grant our wishes.
  • Judgement – Being caught up in our own opinion about a person or situation.
  • Control – Forcing our own view or plan on someone else.
  • Illusion – Overriding reality with denial, projection, fantasy, idealization, depreciation, etc.

Because we cannot entirely escape the five mindsets, our task is to explore how they are serving us and our relationships, in what ways they are interfering with our experience of peace and equanimity in the present moment, and to redirect their energies to healthier ends.  This is the work of spiritual and psychological evolution.  Richo refers to the five mindsets as “the layers or overlays of ego”.

**Certainly if you are in REAL danger, then fear is warranted.  Please use fear to direct yourself toward safety.  Our fight/flight response has served us well when it comes to the survival of our species.  It has not served us so well when REAL, IMMINENT threat or danger is NOT present.  The problem is that our primitive brain struggles to decipher the difference between the two.  I think Richo is referring to the threats that we experience in situations or with others that are not overtly dangerous as being a mindset of ego.

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