Integrating Ego and Self into the wholeness of who you are

Internal Family Systems


Understanding the Integration of Ego and Self

Today, we are going to talk a little bit more about ego and self and why only when they are together can you actually feel the totality of you.

We are taught, through our childhood and lifetime, that we are one: one person & one body. In a similarly way, we are expected to have one opinion about things, to know what we want, and to pursue one linear path to that obvious thing we want.

Unfortunately, that's not how our psyche works. Humans are creatures of ambivalence.

We rarely feel in just one way about most things. Even a slice of cake often brings up ambivalence: it's delicious, yet unhealthy. The ambivalence increases as the complexity of our decisions increases as well, especially when there is not a lot of clarity on "who we are" and "what we truly want" from life. This lack of clarity is often a widespread symptom of a disconnection, if not even estrangement, from our core and essence, which is referred to as "Self" in the Internal Family Systems model of the mind.

The Disconnection from Self

Without the self, several qualities of our life are lacking. There is this lingering feeling of disconnection, of not truly knowing what we want, of not feeling good in our skin that just accompanies us in this journey of our life.

It then becomes the norm to live from our Ego, a construct that we need in order to live our socially complex human lives. The Ego is nothing else than the different parts of our personality, each with its own wants and needs. A good example is a Planning part, taking care of planning things so that we feel in control of our present and future.

Living from Ego: Who’s in the Driver’s Seat?

What does it mean exactly to live from our ego while being disconnected from ourselves?

Here are a few questions that point in the right direction:

  • Who is in the driver’s seat?
  • Whose thoughts, emotions, and perceptions do you experience at any given time?
  • Which bigger vision are you following?

When we live from our ego, we often identify with different parts of ourselves.

Are we identified with the scary part? The sad part? Maybe with a little child who didn’t feel accepted or loved enough? These are just generic examples, but we have many parts, many fragments of our ego that we identify with throughout our life.

The Concept of Blending

Blending is a term used in the Internal Family Systems framework to describe when the whole of you is identifying with one specific part. When that happens, you only get a piece of the whole picture. The bigger picture gets completely lost because you’re thinking, feeling, and acting as that one part, taking one perspective only.

The Inner Critic

A common part we often blend with is the inner critic. This happens really often. We get caught in a continuous flow of statements and a list of things we’re not doing well enough, worries about the future, and rumination about the past.

"It’s not about getting rid of the ego. It’s about reconnecting to the self, which is not this abstract thing a lot of people talk about."

Reconnecting to the Self

The Armchair of Consciousness

Picture an armchair at the very center of your being. This armchair, the seat of your consciousness, can have only one dominant part. Whoever is sitting on this armchair controls your thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and actions, leading to the results you see in your life.

If your inner critic is sitting on this armchair most of the time, you’re going to live from a place of uncertainty, self-doubt, and never enough scarcity.

Observing from Higher Ground

Imagine you’re observing everything from higher ground.

This is the easiest way to connect to yourself. When you observe things from a place of curiosity, you’re not completely blended with one part only. You can evaluate thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, understanding where they come from.

Qualities of the Self

Check which qualities you are feeling consciously in your mind and physically in your body. When you feel calm, compassion, curiosity, courage, creativity, connection, confidence, and clarity, then you are embodying the qualities of self.

"Only when you can look at this part of you who feels not enough, and you can look at it with curiosity and compassion, can you truly lead a wholesome life."


The totality of you is your self, which is needed to lead and bring clarity, and your ego, which is needed to function in any possible circumstance. Only when they are together and work together can there be a wholesome you—a you who feels whole, free, at peace, and capable of achieving everything you want in life.

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