The Delicate Workings of the Soul/Ego Relationship

Kathy Ryndak, Gord Riddell

We can learn to listen to the voice of the soul, which is quite different from the voice of the ego.

A frequent and important question posed by many is: If the soul can communicate with us then how can I tell the difference between my soul trying to give me a message versus my ego giving me one?

In order to reply to such a question, a few assumptions are being made here:
–the first is, every human being has a soul;
– a second assumption is that each soul has a unique map or blueprint which highlights the choices the soul has made as to what learning is needed for its continuing development;
– and thirdly, that every soul chooses a human body and ego as the vehicle for its journey of learning.

While the word assumption was used to set the stage for an explanation, we are personally so aware of the soul’s work in people’s lives – from students to learned elders – that it is not an assumption but a lived experience of the workings of the very real soul and an even more real, ego.

That being said, we assure you that the voice of the soul is quite different from the voice of the ego and that it is possible to learn how to be able to listen and work with both voices.

It is from this conflict that the concept of free will arises. The soul does not stop the ego from its pursuits, no matter how destructive they may be. The ego is free to choose from its many possibilities for as long as the body can sustain itself on the planet. As the oft time co-pilot we are free to move the ego through the soul/ego conflict and listen to the inner voice of the soul or we are free to listen to the very loud voice of the ego and its pursuit of stimuli.

The Ego

The ego has been given a bit of a bad rap and is often viewed as something to get rid of and to overcome. However, as previously stated the soul chooses the ego/personality as a vehicle of its expression. We must remember that, due to its energetic nature, the soul is incapable of actualizing into the much coarser vibration of the physical world yet it needs the challenge of the physical in order to further develop. The resulting relationship is established between the soul and the body and ego. This will become the vehicle of our soul’s expression. The ego can become a formidable challenge as the soul tries to gently steer itself towards its blueprint while all the time being confronted with this opposing force, the ego.

The ego is extremely complex with its many subpersonalities, multiple emotions and moods, its ability to create the phenomenal, and yet hide aspects from itself through the shadow. The ego is of this world, it can be and is driven by the pursuit of stimuli, it will change direction on a whim diverting to the next potential object to experience.  It derives satisfaction from all things external. It is motivated by power, money, sex and recognition. It is subject to attachment to people, places and things, from mild to the extreme form of attachments – addiction.

Furthermore, the ego is almost invariably driven by fear and is more interested in getting its own needs met over the needs of anyone else. While this is painting a bleak picture of the ego, it is important to recognize how the ego functions so we can learn to understand that the ego can be taught to become a partner with the soul and not its opposing force.

The ego is capable of grinding to a halt when a stimuli it had been diligently pursuing, be it people, places or things, stops returning any more excitement to itself. The vehicle that is used by the soul and the body has now seized up, lost in a darkness of conflicting feelings as it struggles to surface from the loss of its favourite stimuli, no matter how caused. Throughout this ordeal the soul patiently awaits its return so that both may continue a journey conflicted by impulsiveness and the self-absorption of the ego.

The ego, without a relationship to the soul, is most likely to exhibit a darker aspect of itself but the ego does have a light side and can be persuaded with some work to move from its highly stimulated outward focus to a more inner focus of light.

The Soul

The soul is pure energy, and as with all universal energies, manifests on this planet through living things whether they are plants, animals or humans. The soul is our link to the divine and our source of wisdom and inspiration. It finds its expression through our spirituality, creativity, sensuality and compassion. In many ways, it is the polar opposite of the ego. It does not seek external stimulation as a reward. It is concerned with moving itself and its vehicle towards completing the blueprint it has developed for this particular lifetime. Its voice is soft and gentle and is a challenge to hear through the loud persistence of the ego.

The voice of the soul is often symbolic. It requires us to be conscious of the signs and signals it will send. The more in tune we are with the soul, the less mysterious it becomes and the less work we have to do. The soul, at first, speaks to us through our dreams and meditations. It is a symbolic language gently used to give us a push in the right direction. Signals may come through external events often referred to as synchronicity. An example may be something you have really wanted to do – and the opportunity to do it, without much effort, arises. At first we often turn a blind eye to these symbols and miss the direction we are being urged to take. However, since we have free will we do not have to listen to the soul. Even if we never listen to, or follow, a thing the soul suggests about the direction it may want to go, the soul will always learn from each of our experiences.

The soul can be persistent in its attempts to communicate with us. If you have ever attempted to make what you thought was a really good idea happen and met with nothing but obstacles, then you have encountered the gentle persistence of the soul letting you know this is not a good idea. As we become more in tune the soul is not so gentle or kind in its effort to get our attention and get us back on track. Its messages can feel like being hit over the head with a plank. It certainly gets our attention and forces us to look inwards at the direction we should be going. If you are stuck in a situation and will not, or think you cannot, do anything about it – whether it is a job, a relationship or a specific behaviour and it is a detriment to your well-being and where you need to go – your soul will intervene.

The primary intervention the soul uses is to have your ego experience a major loss. It could be loss of a job, your health, or a divorce. Since the ego is most susceptible to attachments, one surefire way to get your attention is to alter an attachment and create a ‘dark night of the soul.’ It is actually a dark night of the ego. While we are experiencing the feelings of our loss with a profound sense of emptiness, the soul energy pulls back just enough so the ego is forced to examine itself and the path it has been on. Anyone who has been through this kind of experience will be the first to say, while not fun, it is a life altering experience that leads to bigger, better and more fulfilling things.

So where do we go with this conflict? Well, it is only a conflict until we are able to create a working partnership between the ego and the soul. This is done by recognizing the language of the soul, interpreting its signs and signals and implementing them into your life. If you have a strong gut reaction or intuitive response to something, follow through. If its source is your ego, then your soul will let you know and create an obstacle for you. Recognizing obstacles and re-examining what you are trying to do allows you to take risks that you may never have tried before.

If you have been hit by the proverbial plank to the back of the head, it is time for a change in your life and that is all. Finding yourself at fault or victimized by life events will only disempower you and create one more obstacle you will have to struggle through. Be patient and the learning will become apparent. Sit quietly and work on the relationship between your ego and your soul, they need each other to truly grow.

Gord Riddell and Kathy Ryndak are co-founders of the Transformational Arts College of Spiritual and Holistic Training. The College offers professional training programs in Spiritual Psychotherapy, Spiritual Director, Holistic Health, and Coaching. For more information or for a course calendar, call 416-484-0454 or 1-800-TAC-SELF, or visit To receive their monthly e-newsletter, email

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