Curb your ego
A brief intro to what the ego is
Hello fellow Protagonists,
If somebody comments that a certain person "has a bit of an ego" what image does this portray.
Does it mean they feel this person is a bit arrogant, over-sure of themselves, or even selfish. That they are the kind of person who will always want to make sure their opinion is heard in a meeting or conversation.
Either way if somebody was to say it about us, which way would we take it. Is it a positive or negative thing to say about us.
Sounds to me like most people wouldn't take it too positive.
So what is the ego?
We know from the way we use the word in conversation, such as the one above, that our ego is something to do with our character, our identity.
The ego is our identity
Our views on anything are only perceptions of situations. This is simply evidenced by the fact that people can view the same situation completely differently. Our views can also change meaning they are impermanent. Therefore:
The ego is the perception of our identity
The next piece of the puzzle is identifying where our perception comes from.
When we look at something amazing like a picturesque sunrise. We may get a certain feeling we cannot explain into words. We stare across the skyline and soak up what we are watching.
A strange feeling that we are somehow connected to that sunrise.
In order to then perceive something we need to think about it. It is only when we think about the sunrise we start to use words like "stunning" or "beautiful". This comes after witnessing the sunrise.
So our perception comes from thinking. It comes from the part of our mind that wants to conceptualize a situation into words.
The ego is the perception of our identity that our mind conceptualizes into words
So yeah, any time we think with a perception attached (heads up, most of the time) this is the ego.
This isn't a simple concept to grasp. It separates out what we think we are to who we actually are. And as soon as we place words into who we think we actually are, we are returning to the ego because we are using perceptions again.
So now that my brain is mush, why does it matter to understand about the ego?
This is because we now know that the ego (what we think about ourselves) is not the real us. It is a perception of us.
The ego tells us what we think we know about ourselves, therefore what we think will make us happy in life, what we need to become and what we don't want to become.
This doesn't sound problematic at all.
Until we begin to realise that if the ego is not us, then these beliefs are also only perceptions and not truths of us.
Maybe what we think we need, isn't what we need at all.
This is why we conduct actions and behaviors that we think will make us happier, to later find out they don't, at least not over the long time.
The ego wants to continue to exist and can only do so by coming up with new things for us to become happier, even after attaining the things it previously told us would lead us to that happiness.
Where else do we continue to listen to advice after knowing it didn't work the first 5 times? Leading to situations like the Hedonic Treadmill
The argument here is that if true happiness can ever be found by chasing the ego. Can you follow a false path and lead to true happiness.
I encourage you to take a second and soak those last 2 sentences in.
Have a sip of coffee adventurers, there is one more part of the ego to go through in this post.
The next aspect of the ego is that it can only attach itself to the past or future and to external comparison. Never to the present, and this will become important.
"I fucked that up didn't I" - This kind of thought must be linked to a situation, something that happened. To feel we have fucked up we have perceived that an action we had taken turned out badly. A gut punch to the ego. Although someone else may have taken a similar action and felt it was a great outcome. It's all perception.
But if the ego is designed to preserve itself then why does it make us feel bad? The ego wants to maintain a sense of identity and if this means a negative identity to ensure that happens, then so be it.
"Their views are wrong" - Although this is our perception being pointed at another person, if we are knowingly thinking someone's viewpoint is wrong we are also saying we know this, which makes us right. We are protecting our own ego here as well.
"I need a new car" - Is it that our car is broken or that our ego wants a new car because it tells us that it will make us happier, more important, more noticeable. This is also a form of self-preservation from the ego. Once we get the new car it will be replaced by something else.
Three short and sweet examples out of millions.
So when is the ego not in play?
Remember the situation with the sunrise, that moment when we witnessed the event before conceptualizing it. This is us before the perception (the ego) comes in.
Eckhart Tolle refers to the "I am", the moment of existing without having to put opinions to it. The realisation of living in the moment.
The ego cannot be found in the present. Those 2 seconds before thinking the sunrise was stunning, that was the present.
This is what some people may be trying to achieve through certain meditation practices, like sitting in silence and trying to sense different areas of our body internally without naming them. We are practicing being rather than thinking.
There are also times when thoughts are truths rather than opinions. "I am thirsty, I'll get a drink". You are present and so realise you are thirsty.
We don't need to see discussions about the ego as trying to become robot minded and thoughtless. It is more in the realisation of what thoughts from the ego are, where they come from and what they are trying to achieve.
For 99.9% of us we will continue to have thoughts from the ego all day every day.
Its more of a rain check that any thoughts around perceptions and opinions can be misguided. Just because we think about something in a certain way does not mean it is an absolute truth, about us or anyone/anything else.
If we cannot be so certain about ourselves then what does that say about our views on others and on the world?
GLHF (Good Luck Have Fun)
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