According to the book “Games Ego Plays” by Kevin Fitzmaurice, the ego is like a never-ending board game. This is a role-playing game to determine who’s right. The voice in your head is you and your opponents are everyone else. Your attitude toward your opponent is either suspicious (at best) or vicious (at worst).
To play the game, you shift between six possible positions: victim, defender, jailer, judge, offender, prosecutor. To begin the game, one player must attack and the other must respond defensively. For example, a wife may prosecute a husband by making the accusation “You never play with the children.” At first the husband attempts to defend himself, but she isn’t convinced. Eventually, he may try to take the role of prosecutor and respond, “You won’t let me, you always control everything!” Nice move. Now, if she defends herself, her position collapses until she makes another move. These types of ego games often last a lifetime.
If you can get another player to agree about who the judge is, you may be able to agree on guilt. You might convince the other player to let you play jailor and deal out the punishment. If you do not agree on who the judge is, there are ways to justify your behavior. You might assume the role of offender and feel justified in getting away with something. Or perhaps your best move is to take the role of victim, which justifies all sorts of insanity.
This game sounds like fun, but the problem is that the players don’t know it’s a game. Since they can’t imagine a reality beyond the game, they don’t know how to stop. But there is a way to stop playing.
Love is the anti-ego. In love, you end the game when you stop defending yourself. When attacked, you might calmly respond “is that so?” Refuse to assume any of the six positions. Be humble. Trust people. Be accepting and forgiving. Make yourself vulnerable.
Nobody has ever won anything real by playing the ego board game. It is only a game. Real life is what happens when you stop playing and realize you already had everything before you started playing. We continue tomorrow and each day after that.