Ego VS Soul: How To Tell The Difference In 2023

Differentiating between your ego and soul is truly a life’s challenge. It means learning the language of your head and becoming able to interpret all the little and big signs that lead to your behavior and thinking. The moment you start to feel order in the stormy sea of your mind, you will notice lasting confidence and calmness. Learning the ability to separate ego and soul when needed, is a genuinely rewarding journey, where everyone benefits: Your relationships, your career and lastly your >self<.

What is the difference between ego and soul?

Short answer: Ego is material and every hungry. It advocates to fulfill our animalistic needs with never ending appetite and lust. Fair to mention, growing up with educational standards, it seeks to do so in a socially accepted way. Whereas the soul is the metaphysical part of our consciousness. There is nothing able to measure its existence. Yet, in every religion and people’s life’s the soul plays an integral part. Where the ego stops to provide answers, spirituality begins. And this is where our soul comes into play. Surprisingly through our soul we can find sustainable answers and thoughts to life’s questions. The ego has no connection spirituality. We need our soul for that, the fundamental essence of life. However, to really understand the difference between the ego and soul, we need to take a closer look to their origins.

Ego vs Soul: Ego

The most prominent definition of the ego was created by Siegmund Freud, an Austrian neurologist. He contributed a massive amount of his clinical work and lifetime to understand our mind, the psyche. Freud defined the ego as one of three parts of the psyche.

The Id

The Ego

The Superego

The id
seeks to fulfill instinctual drives and is completely unconscious. We have no control over it. All we witness, are urges to fulfill our basic needs, like sleep, nourishment, or reproduction.

The ego
is the executer of the psyche. It organizes the mind in a coherent and rational way. It mediates between the needs of the Id and the superego. The ego maintains a sense of reality and assures the fulfillment of the instinctive id and the moral superego.

The superego
represents the internalized social and moral values and ideals that individuals acquire from their parents and society.

What we can conclude with Freuds work is critical for our perception to the ego: The ego is not “bad” per se. The ego can be ineffective if we didn’t learn to tame the id and if we were not fortunate enough to grow up with effective social and moral values. The ego is basically like a software we have written, influenced heavily by the id and superego. Once it’s written and in use, it’s very hard to dissect the massive amount of code and find the faulty parts that cause errors. 

Ego vs Soul: Soul

Since centuries, the soul is an integral part of human dialogs. Long time before research about the ego has been done, renowned philosophers like Plato, Socrates or Pythagoras ruminated and speculated already about the soul’s characteristics and its origin. Depending on the cultural and theological context, the soul has different meanings and qualities. However, there is one dominant perception about what the soul actually is. 

“You don’t have a soul, you are a soul. You have a body”

George Mcdonald summarized pretty well what the common understanding of the soul is. Unlike the psyche and the ego, the soul is the immaterial part of our being. Some religious and spiritual traditions believe that the soul survives physical death and continues on in some form. Others hold that the soul is reincarnated in a new body or simply dissolves into the universe. 

After all, for many people the concept of the soul provides a sense of meaning, purpose, and spirituality in their lives. For me personally I must admit, being a soul provides me some sort of gateway to the eternal knowledge of mother nature. Like a plug to connect to the divine part of “life” which is pure, real and always honest. Walking alone in the forest, gazing stars or enduring heavy pain opens up thoughts, which the ego is not able grasp.  A divine connection, without any influence of wanting. Just the pure essence of being.

The structure of souls described by Aristotle.

can ego and soul work together?

This is probably the most critical point in this article. Meanwhile we know, that the ego is the force that executes the will of the psyche. On one side it consists of our animalistic needs to survive and reproduce, on the other side it’s able to consider moral values and ideals. All of this regards the body part. A working together between the ego and soul is possible, if you know the differences between them and treat the undivine part of your body with compassion and understanding.

Deep down of many spiritual practices lies the promise becoming able to separate ego and soul when needed. The default situation is, that the soul identifies with the ego, which identifies with the body’s emotions. This mix of animalistic urges and divinity makes it complex for a human being to distinguish which influences come from which corner. A working together is only possible if we see the ego as natural part of our body. Anger, grief and resent come all from an inherent and natural fear of death and a need for survival. 

Having a negative perception about the body’s emotions makes it hard to accept the biological agenda which everybody is born with. Feeling guilt about feelings activates a self-propelling negative spiral that keeps us trapped with them. The first step of a working together is the realization and acceptance of your body’s emotions. Only if you treat them with compassion and understanding, like a loving mother with the antics of its child, you are able to grow beyond. Treating your emotions with understanding and acceptance prepares the garden of your mind for a sustainable working together with your soul.

How can ego and soul work together?

First: Recognize and define your emotions

Practice this every day. In every situation lies a biological need from your body, which is executed by the ego. For example, if you are angry or disappointed about somebody, then this is not you and your soul which is angry, but your body’s biological reaction. Let’s say somebody didn’t show up on a date, then there’s a very natural emotion that derives from your body’s need to survive. There is nothing unique about this. Everybody experiences these feelings. Critical is, that you don’t identify with these emotions. They are not “yours”. 

Saying “I feel anger about this” is a whole different perception than saying “I am angry about this”.
With “I am” you identify with your ego, which is identified with the body’s emotions. 

The correct process is recognizing, defining and letting go. Not recognizing, defining and identifying.


Second: Recognize and define the nature of soul

Humanity has accepted a soul as divine part of our existence. The inexplicable reason why we are so tremendously more conscious than any other living being on this planet. We experience specific emotions or situations and suddenly our thoughts are aligned to mother nature infinite intelligence. We do the “right” by nature, because we have the ability to connect to nature. 

Everything that you are able to recognize as part of the body’s animalistic needs;
Every values you were taught by your family, friends and the rest of society;

is very likely part of the ego. The moment you step into spiritual practices you learn to unveil and separate ego needs from the divine wisdom of the soul. 


Third: Progressive Clarity

-> Recognizing the ego’s agenda to support your body’s survival
-> Accepting your body’s need for survival
-> Treating your body’s needs and its executer, the ego with compassion and understanding
-> Separating those emotions and thoughts from the divine part of your existence, the soul
-> Making conscious switches between ego and soul

Give your >self< time to practice a working together. With every relationship comes conflict. Conflict is the most fertile soil for lasting relationships, because you go through something together. Getting to know your body is like learning all the mechanics and buttons of a spaceship. You push one button and a gate opens or closes. Another button increases or decrease the oxygen flow of a chamber. With every walk in nature, with every overcoming of an internal or external struggle, with every meditation and so on, you come a step closer to a harmonious working together between the divine part of life, which is you, the soul and the vehicle you operate, which is your body.


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