Who am I? Clearly, my genes, instincts and evolutionary assets as well as baggage define me. Then there are the biases and conditioning from our parents, friends and society. Lastly, there are the personal aspects, my accumulated experiences and the personal attributes I was born with.
So what exactly is the ego? When I talk about the ego, I actually think of a trait that develops over the course of our lifetime. The hunger for more, the paranoia and fear, the aggression and restlessness in us. It seems to be a cancerous monster which inflates over time unless we do something about it.
When Jesus asked a wealthy man who was interested in his teaching to distribute his assets and to join him, he couldn't. Power, wealth and sex are often the areas where this force is hiding. Fears, concerns and anxieties are just the mirror images. As I am accumulating wealth, power, etc., the fear to lose it grows alongside.
In some older people you can find this cancerous force eating away at them. Their fears and anxieties and greed make them a shadow of what they once were. Why do we love our children so much instead, because this force is still incubating. Sadly, in some children you already see the roots developing.
I strongly believe it is in our power to control this force and shrink it back. Once you have discovered its existence, you just have to be mindful of its presence. Realize when it kicks in - as I said before, power, wealth and sex are good places to start looking - and just say no when the demands kick in. The monster will scream a bit, but will soon deflate back. You are not really giving up anything. Once the urge subsides, you realize that these desires are meaningless to your true being.