The Downing Street Project / network

I was walking down Balham High Road on my last trip to London a few weeks ago and looked up from being lost in thought to find my eyes focusing on the word 'EGA' on a sign above a coffee shop. Immediately, I found myself thinking, 'EGA - that must be the feminine of EGO?'. I really started to wondered if I was onto something here. Momentarily, my own EGO started thinking I may have discovered some major psychological construct heretofore unchartered. When I got home a cursory google search under EGA and feminine EGO did not turn up much but I am sure there is much out there, somewhere.

Flash forward 1 week and I am sitting in a room with my team of 7 co-facilitators finishing a major 6 month programme. We are giving feedback to each other and I am getting told that it is time for me to 'step up'. I am getting called to lead. I am getting all the signs that people want me to lead and feel an authentic impulse to do so. I have been getting this call in various forms for a while now. When it comes, I am split in 1/2. Some seemingly more rational, authentic part of myself can look at all the evidence, hear the calls of my peers and colleagues, know my own sense of who I am becoming and know I am ready. And then this other part pipes up: ' who me? I don't know enough, am not good enough, I can't be it, blah blah blah'. You know the voice. And I suddenly wondered if this was the manifestation of the EGA right there? At that point, my shrinking back, playing small was just as inauthentic as the more familiar EGO expression of hubris. Is playing small the feminie EGO expression of playing too big? Both are equally EGO/A based - neither is an authentic expression. Both are located in concern primarily for the self and the preservation of some identity.

Having worked in the area of gender and gender relations in organisaitons for several years, the behaviour is well documented and spoken about. But something sparked for me in this reflection about the source of the behaviour, typically attributed to low-self esteem, or the like. I will be the first to point out and disdain EGO as expressed in the traditionally male version of over aggrandising, but I wondered what it would mean for me to begin to show the same lack of tolerance for it in the EGA expression of self effacement?

I know there is a much more robust analysis worthy here, but wanted to share the thought and see if and how it connects.

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Comment by indraadnan on March 18, 2009 at 18:27
Thanks Cari, Willa - this is something I have grappled with for years. The number of times I have stood up to take my place or say my piece and have completely lost my ability to speak coherently... The only way I can understand both ego and ega is that they are about disconnection. The ego separates itself from its environment and seeks to elevate itself above it - I guess the ega does the same, but demotes itself. Either way, the person loses that sense of him/herself as profoundly a part of his/her environment -what Buddhism calls dependent origination. The times I have been able to speak naturally on a podium for example, have been when I have been able to recognise that I am just an extension of the audience: my speaking arises from their listening... But it's touch and go whether or not I can get myself into that frame of mind before I begin that wobbly walk towards the front of the room... My theory about men is that they find it easier to talk into an empty space because they don't live in that constantly aiming to relate space - they don't need the feeling of connectedness in order to be themselves...

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