The Higher and Lower Selves

Our inner experience often feels like a tug of war as various streams of thought battle for attention. Some thoughts come from the needs of the body and emotions. They make up the part of the mind referred to as the ego or ‘Lower Self’.

In contrast, we also have thoughts which come from the part of the mind referred to as the ‘Higher Self’, when we’re thinking, speaking and acting from a consciousness of pure love.

Living from the Higher Self is living to our highest potential. We approach life in a positive way and our loving energy spreads out like ripples in a pond, influencing the people around us and making our contribution to a better world.

We are individual expressions of the whole

The first step in living from the Higher Self is to remember that we all have the same life spirit dwelling in us. However, although we are part of the one organising intelligence, through the ego we can fall into the illusion of seeing ourselves as separate.

We are individualised expressions of the whole, like musical notes contributing to a perfect composition. Just as a single note does not embody the whole piece, the piece is incomplete without every note. The universe would not be the same without you. It would be incomplete.

When you act from love you’re coming from your Higher Self

You’re coming from your Higher Self when you’re thinking, feeling, speaking and acting from the pure love and peace that lies within you. Make a conscious choice to love. Put the ego to one side and fear dissolves. You discover inner resources you didn’t know you had. You become a channel for the good that flows throughout the universe.

The Lower Self (or ego)

The term ‘ego,’ is used in many ways:

  • In psychoanalytic theory it is the part of the mind that controls the pleasure-seeking ‘Id’ and is restrained by the conscience (the ‘Superego’).
  • We also hear people described as having ‘a big ego,’ meaning they think too much of themselves.
  • I can also mean the image of ourselves we like to present to the world – our idea of who we would like others to think we are.

The ego is a product of past programming and greatly susceptible to fear and self-doubt. It is a tiny part of who we are, but it behaves as if it is the only part. Even thinking of ourselves as spiritual can be an ego trap if we think this makes us better than anyone else.

Recognising the ego

To dismantle the ego, we must recognise its false ideas and beliefs, dispute them and let them go. It is not an instant process: years of conditioning take more than a few weeks to work through. Only a handful of spiritual masters have ever rid themselves of it completely.

Working diligently on yourself allows the Higher Self to play a greater role in your life. Do you recognise any of these ego-based thinking patterns in yourself?

  • Believing that you are a physical being separate from everyone and everything else.
  • Seeing others as a threat.
  • Believing you have to compete for status and attention.
  • Making comparisons.
  • Jealously safeguarding your reputation because you think this is who you are.
  • Needing to be right and taking pleasure in proving others wrong.
  • Constantly seeking approval from others, since you cannot find it within.
  • Living in the past and fretting about the future, overlooking the present.
  • Seeking to cushion yourself against anything that could threaten your security.
  • Being controlled by the emotions, hence prone to jealousy, judgement, boastfulness, meanness and hatred.

You are connected

Start by dropping the idea that you are separate from the rest of existence. You’re not. Nor are you any better or worse than anyone or anything else. Spiritual energy is part of everyone and belongs to all. As John Donne wrote, ‘No man is an island, entire of itself.’


©David Lawrence Preston, 6.11.2016

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