We hear a lot about ego in everyday life, and it can mean many different things.
Some people believe we should transcend the ego completely, while others take a more moderate approach to accept that ego is part of who we are.
But like any other facet of our personality ego must be kept in check.
I’m of the latter camp. I believe that ego serves an important function in our everyday lives. Ego is sometimes mistaken for outright arrogance, overblown confidence, and selfishness. When someone says “that person has an ego,” it’s usually meant as a criticism.
But we all have an ego. It contributes to our sense of identity and self-esteem. Ego can help us protect our boundaries. It is what prompts us to say, “I don’t deserve to be treated this way” when we experience disrespect.
Ego is also what pushes us to move towards our goals: “I see so many of my colleagues rising. It’s my time to shine, too.”
Ego has a purpose, and there is nothing wrong with the healthy confidence it can give us. Without confidence and self-worth, a lot of us would stay hidden behind the scenes, never bothering to believe in our dreams at all.
But like all things in life, its manifestations can run from one end of the spectrum to another. Ego can steer us in the wrong direction through feelings of entitlement, grandeur, and condescension.
Spiritual entrepreneurs are not immune to the challenges of ego.
When you’re working professionally through tarot, astrology, and other metaphysical practices you’re usually trying to work beyond ego’s lower forms.
Yet even if we think we’re in control of our businesses and spiritual paths, ego has a way of taking charge. Here are some signs your ego may be trying to take over as the CEO of your spiritual biz:
1. You believe you’ve accomplished your spiritual work.
The ego wants to thrive, and when we’re not engaging with our own spiritual practices it gets to run wild.
When you’re working as a spiritual entrepreneur, it can be easy to think you’ve mastered something. Now, people come to you for wisdom and guidance because you’ve got your life figured out and packed away.
Beware of putting yourself on a pedestal. It becomes a lot harder to see the details of your own life if you’re sitting up high above everyone else.
While I don’t believe we always have to look for things to go wrong, I do believe that we can easily blind ourselves to cracks in our own relationships, identities, and foundations when we stop paying attention through the belief that perfection has been attained.
2. You’ve stopped learning.
You’ve taken courses, read books, done the training, and practiced, practiced, practiced and now you’re out in the world making a living off your spiritual path.
What more is there to learn?
Sometimes we can feel shy signing up for new courses, workshops, or trainings: “What if taking this class makes me seem like I’m not as knowledgeable? What if people still think I’m a beginner?”
Or, we assume it will be a waste of time: “I already know this stuff.”
But those thoughts can close us off in a big way.
There may be areas of focus or expertise that some practitioners specialize in that can help enhance your own work.
Even if you know a lot, it doesn’t mean you know it all. Assuming you do can lead to intellectual laziness down the road.
Now, I do think there are a lot of gray areas when it comes to learning. Sometimes people overcompensate by taking way too many courses and seminars because they don’t believe in their skills, or they feel they need to continuously pad their resume to prove their worth to clients.
By all means, take courses that align with your path and business goals. But give yourself room to breathe and take time to apply what you’ve been learning into your practice, too.
I don’t believe we have to be studying and learning at such a constant pace that it becomes a burden on our time, creativity, or finances.
Instead, I think attitudes towards learning are what’s important. Keeping an open mind and being willing to hear other approaches to a practice can deepen our own work all the same.
Sometimes it’s helpful to have a refresher on old techniques. Sometimes you attend a workshop and come away with an interesting new idea. Sometimes you gain perspective on your own knowledge by having similar teachings reflected back to you.
Don’t forget that everything is evolving all the time. Even if your business is based off of traditional practices, we are living in modern times. Staying current with new trainings or approaches allows you to stay relevant to the people you serve.
As soon as you assume you’ve finished learning, you close your mind to a world of information.
You also put yourself at risk of being stuck in an old era. The ego balks at the idea – “That would never happen to me.
3. You think you know what’s best for everyone else.
Things get tricky if we start seeing ourselves as enlightened gurus who are here to espouse wisdom on the rest of the world.
I work primarily with tarot and astrology, and I always tell people that neither of these things are advice columns.
What do I mean by that? I am not here to tell anyone how they should live their lives. I am not interested in cheering for an arbitrary morality squad or using my practice to push my own agenda.
But there a lot of people out there who start coaching businesses, tarot practices, and more because they “love telling other people what to do.”
That’s about you, not the other person.
Question any feelings you have about bringing your own opinions in your practice. If you do like to give advice, ask yourself this:
“Do I know this is true and best for my client, or is it just true for me?”
Check in as to why you are reacting the way you are, and what you can do to step out of your own emotions and take a more objective approach.
None of us have authority or authorship over our clients’ lives, and we all have to respect that everyone is walking their own paths.
4. You teach, but you withhold knowledge.
“Every good teacher hopes to give his students so much of his own learning that they will one day no longer need him.”
– A Course in Miracles
How generous are you with your knowledge?
It can be scary to share your wisdom:
“What if my students surpass me in their skills?”
“What if I teach them so well that they overshadow my success?”
“What if they become my greatest competition?”
These are tough thoughts to admit to having. But again, this is part of the work of managing the ego.
Unfortunately, some spiritual teachers deny students their knowledge. They create complex teachings that make it impossible to grasp concepts and put them into practice.
Or, they knowingly give mediocre classes that only take students part of the way.
Or they string their students along with promises of deeper knowledge once certain tests, levels, or trainings are accomplished. These teachers build mystery to keep their students coming back for more rather than feeling confident to carry out this work on their own.
The truth is, no one owns any one spiritual path or practice. No one owns tarot, runes, astrology, reiki, mediumship, witchcraft…you name it.
There is no one way to learn these practices and no singular teaching style that can encapsulate it all.
Yet ego will tell you to keep it all to yourself.
Fight that urge to control or cling to the knowledge you have and trust that by sharing it, you will bring good into the world.
5. You thrive on the drama of your clients.
Do you need to be needed by your clients?
Do you secretly love it when they call you in the middle of the night in need of an emergency tarot reading?
Do you answer to their ever whim, or spend hours each week engaging in their follow-up emails, Instagram comments, and more?
Even though we talk a lot about boundaries in spiritual professions, the truth is that some practitioners get off on feeling needed by their clients.
Be careful about self-aggrandizing your work by attracting people who are vampirizing your time and energy. Your ego might like the attention. Or it might be afraid to say no for fear of being disliked.
Ego wants to please everyone.
Your goal shouldn’t be to develop co-dependency with your customers.
Just as we want our students to grow their own wings, we should want the same for our clients.
Make it a plan to see your clients graduate from your services. Help them rely on themselves rather than feeding off their neediness.
6. You compete rather than support.
Ego doesn’t like business competition – unless it’s consistently on top.
Ego also prevents us from seeing the value in community. If you’re feeling threatened by your competition, it’s usually a sign to celebrate.
Why? Because it shows there’s market demand for what you do.
It also shows there’s opportunity for everyone to rise together.
So be careful if you find yourself trash talking other people’s practices and approaches, or consciously avoiding making connections with peers.
If you have an established business, it might be hard to see someone who is newly emerging to be gaining success.
But remember that it’s not physically or emotionally possible to be the only game in town. You can’t read tarot at every single party in your city. You don’t have time to take on all the clients out there. You can’t be the only one teaching workshops or running events because you will run out of time for yourself.
So let others have their moment, too, and stay focused on your goals, your business, and your path.
And if you do notice someone rising up, reach out to them. Share their work, or invite them to collaborate on a project with you.
Find strength in numbers rather than isolating yourself. Your ego might be out of its comfort zone at first, but in time you will find new rewards through the connections you’ve grown.
Until next time,