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A Radical Awakening Book Summary - Understanding Many Faces of Our Ego



Recently, I finished reading a fabulous book, A Radical Awakening by Dr. Shefali. True to its name, the book woke me up from a sleep. I thought I was aware of my limiting beliefs and unconscious patterns, but this book took my awakening to a whole new level. Although it's difficult to summarise the whole of this wonderfully written book, but I do intend to highlight some of the key ideas presented by her:


Our Drives

The book primarily uncovers how our behaviours are driven. It talks about how our biology shapes us, psychology moulds us & culture scares us.

We all are driven by the triple threat - Approval, Validation & Praise!

We are hungry for 2 foods- Love & Worth.

Attention, Acceptance & Validation are the prizes we obsess over. Our repetitive patterns are the outcome of the three primary questions that we subconsciously seek answers for:


Am I loved?

Am I seen?

Am I worthy?



The Many Faces of Our Ego

These innate drives play out in the form of ego and we all wear various faces of ego in our day to day life. The Giver, The Controller & The Taker are 3 Broad categories of the many faces of Ego. The questions pertaining to each type are directly taken from the book. Check which category you most resonate with:


A. The Givers

Givers are typically codependent meaning they are highly dependent on another validation one could go as far as to say that their entire sense of self depends on it so much so that without this they feel as if they don't exist. Givers want to show the world how good they are. They cannot bear to be seen as self absorbed.


The Victim

Do you feel as if you are the poor one in your life and work?

Do you feel as if people are take advantage of you?

Do you feel sorry for yourself and wish things were different?

Do you feel as if you are right and they are wrong?

Do you feel insulted and belittled by others?

Do you expect things from others that don't come to fruition?

Do you feel as if you are an innocent target for others' wrath?

Do you share your woes with others expecting sympathy and then feel upset when you don't get it?

Do you feel if others were different then you would be different?


The Martyr

Do you see your role in labels such as mother Teresa or some heroic Saint figure?

Do you walk into spaces and situations and take over the whole show?

Do you typically endure your hard work through noble suffering and silence?

Do you feel burned out by all you have put on your shoulders?

Do you feel resentful because you feel taken for granted?


The Savior

My giving allows me to feel significant and useful, valid and worthy

My giving allows me to not confront my own pain about the others pain

My giving allows me to ward off the discomfort of tolerating the unknown

My giving allows me to feel superior and competent, powerful and in control

My giving attracts broken people to me allowing me to continue this cycle

My giving allows others to depend on me which give me a sense of power

My giving allows me to not learn to be a receiver

My giving means I could distract myself from my own self care.


The Bleeding Empath

The capacity to fill the others pain to a deep degree.

The capacity for compassion for others' circumstances.

The desire to alleviate the other's suffering.

The willingness to help others at any cost.

The inability to hold clear and consistent boundaries.

The inability to ask for help and receive it with openness.

The incapacity to clearly state my needs without guilt.

The tendency to feel hurt when the other doesn't appreciate or validate me.

The hardship in saying no and facing conflict.

The inability to tolerate conflict and tension

The desire to have others need and depend on me.

The tendency to be supergiving & be super helpful.



B. The Controllers

Controllers are highly anxious people who convert their anxiety into controlling their environment so that they can feel in charge and competent. They disguise themselves as achievers in the case of perfectionists, worrying care takers in the case of helicopters, dominating control freaks in the case of tyrants and impenetrable rigidity in the case of shields. The controllers want to be seen as how competent they are. They cannot bear to be seen as a failure.


The Perfectionist

You have to constantly do and perform in order to feel good

You need to either Excel or give up, average is unacceptable

You cannot trust anyone to do the job because they might mess it up

You should double check everything and conduct risk assessments

You should do more, try harder

You need to focus on the one percent that went wrong or that might go wrong

You don't want to start new projects unless you are assured of success

You need to be highly critical of yourself when you don't reach the outcome you desire

When things don't go as planned this means you are incompetent and unworthy


The Helicopter

Overpossession - the other is seen as a direct extension of the self

Overprotection - the other is treated as a precious object to be safeguarded

Overscheduling - life is micro managed and schedule to the minute

Overcriticism - finding blame with everyone and everything

Overmanagement - the others life is managed as if it were ones own

Overinvolvement - boundaries are crossed and the others life is taken over


The Passive-Aggressive Tyrant

Combo of giver and controller


She says yes to all the requests made of her without discretion until she is exhausted and rageful

She doesn't speak up about her needs until she burns out and breaks down

She ignores her self-care to the point of developing chronic illness

She controls others and micro managers them through guilt.


The Shield

Stoic and unemotional

Rational detached and logical in arguments

On the serious and quite side unable to let loose

Over achieving, over successful and over organised

Is a walking Google of sorts keeps data and facts at a finger tips

Avoid emotional movies or conversations

Is the person others turn to for disaster control



C. The Takers

Takers operate out of a lack of self governance. Divorced from their internal power, they glom on to others and extract their resources as their lifeline. Takers depend on others to do things for them and to provide emotional sustenance.


The Diva

The need to be the star of attention

The need to receive only positive validation

Negative feedback is a plague

The need to be perceived as better than anyone else

The need to be treated with kid gloves


The Princess

Defaulting to helplessness and not knowing how to do things

Terror of entering adulthood and being responsible

Purchasing attention and love through helplessness

Protecting the psyche from failure by being passive

A sense of entitlement and anger when help isn't given


The Child

Stays inactive and passive in decision making

Stays paralyzed about taking actions & others are forced to take it for her

Unable to tolerate pain and bypasses it to achieve cheerfulness

Great denial about the painful truth about her life

Insistence of stating she is happy even when authentic expression is not present

Lack of insight & awareness into her own or others true feelings or pain

Stays superficial with herself and others

Doesn't like to probe into the deep reality of her life or life in general

Avoids conflict by ignoring her authentic feelings and acts conciliatory



We might relate to more than one ego type or maybe one type in one situation & other type in other. Rooted to childhood fears of not being good enough & not feeling seen, loved or validated, ego is only protecting the fears of childhood.


Releasing Ego

When we are operating from our wounds, we act like a child yearning for validation, acceptance & approval from the external World. This is the face of the ego we are wearing. The way out of this is to reparent ourselves. It's for us to be the mothers & fathers to ourselves, the one we always wanted but never had! The path to releasing the ego is to know our true selves.


Redefining Purpose

According to the author, purpose is not something we need to find. It's in our Presence to this moment. And Presence is Authenticity & Inner Connection. Authenticity & Inner Connection happen through Self Acceptance which is to let go of perfection. Accepting our shadow sides & detaching from everyone & everything by surrendering to the As-Is. Coming Home to Ourselves is the Ultimate Goal of our Life.