The Poisonous Ego.
e•go (ˈi goʊ, ˈɛg oʊ)
n., pl. e•gos.
Psychoanal. the conscious, rational component of the psyche that experiences and reacts to the outside world and mediates between the demands of the id and superego.
I, along with anyone else have multiple dimensions to my identity. I’m a lover of basketball, I’m fascinated by team, how each player can fulfill roles that pave the road to success. I’m fascinated with the history of the world, the forces or personalities that have shaped the present into existence, whether to the benefit or detriment of humanity. I’m a huge believer in the power of communication and I’m an unflinching optimist at heart. Last but not least, I believe- no, I know self improvement should be apart of everyone’s journey on Earth and when combined with honesty, it can produce spectacular results. There are few ambitions more noble then the desire to harvest every ounce of talent available, to produce the best version of oneself. But what have I learnt since I first acknowledged my flaws and began building my personality?
An individual’s ego is poisonous.
There are very little things more dangerous and toxic than an ego. Everyone has one and there’s no true way to ever completely destroy it, however I suggest that one should aim to remove as much of it as possible. The ego is a self imposed image of oneself that gains its power from external validation, think why actors, actress, billionaires and athletes wear, own and brag about their expensive material goods? Why does someone buy a three million dollar car when a one hundred thousand dollar BMW would serve it’s purpose just as well in terms of safety, luxury and comfort.
Society has taught us that respect and self worth can only be determined by outside acceptance, look at how much sway actors and singers have, notice how often photo-shopped bodies symbolising youth, sexual power and affluence are parodied in front of our faces? All first world countries are now built upon the foundations of capitalism, a mentality which tends to isolate, devalue and undermine the emotional requirements of humanity. The downfall? People chase unrealistic and shallow dreams, thinking popularity or wealth will be their keys to fulfillment, never understanding that such luxuries are not needed for happiness.
What happens when this external confidence is ripped away? What happens when a millionaire socialite loses their wealth or when a singer can no longer draw in the masses? Their sense of self worth, their sense of importance is dissolved. In short, people with unchecked egos rely upon outside measures to keep themselves satisfied, very risky, very tricky and rather sad. Being constantly accepted by outside forces traps one in a spiral, it’s why people become addicted to plastic surgery or steroids, they are not actually obsessed with having their skin cut up nor do they enjoy injecting foreign chemicals into themselves, it’s the shower of approval afterwards which they crave.
What’s that? You don’t have an ego? You are 100% satisfied and proud of yourself no matter what happens? Right? You can look in the mirror and be happy with the face that stares back? Then do this challenge… Go into a crowded area like a shopping centre and start doing push ups until your arms fail you, don’t stop or don’t defend yourself and if people look… stare back with twice the intensity. Logically there’s no downside to these actions in fact you could argue you end up strengthening your body, but emotionally you become paralysed despite the fact such an action will not have any repercussions, doing push ups in public seems embarrassing and impossible. See, that’s your ego putting the brakes on a course of action which you wish to pursue.
Look, I’m not here to point the finger, I still have an ego and like I stated previously it is impossible to ever live a life without self judgement ever. But one must also realise how much your ego hinders the possibilities in your life, fear of social judgement starts to shape you, until you live your whole life acting out your image. I say, fuck that, I say disregard social conventions, disregard social norms because life is too valuable to waste abiding to unwritten rules to please unknown, faceless people. Particularly during my high school life, I tended to hide my opinion, believing it wasn’t valid or even worse… That no one would actually want to hear it. My attempts to rationalise such a mentality makes me sick and truly highlights how often we present a fake, romanticised perception of ourselves, quietly wishing to be a mere cog in the system.
Self expression is at the core of a healthy identity, being able and more importantly, being willing to forge a unique path for oneself armed with one’s quirky and eccentric characteristics is the journey of immaturity to maturity. I love communicating and expressing my opinion, but every time I restricted myself, choosing to remain silent I decided my pride and my external validation was more important than. I momentarily denied myself the joy of engaging and interacting with another human being, whose experiences and values are unquestionably different to mine, another individual I could learn from, someone whom I could possibly call a friend in the future.
The ego enforces structure, formality and social uniform while forgoing individualism and eccentricity.
So now the negatives about having an ego are evident, how does one destroy or weaken it? Sadly it’s very hard, we’ve based our whole lives upon gaining social power to suddenly step away from that mindset is almost like beating an addiction. In all honesty, I believe the only way to overcome this social fear is to nullify or to completely disregard the impact that external validation has on one’s feelings. When your beliefs and words stray from the norms of social conventions, you might be alienated or met with disagreement, suddenly the only substance to fill the vacuum is your own self worth, how much do you truly stand by your words?
Speak your mind enough and you learn to stop drawing your emotions from outside influences, get rejected enough and you’ll learn the Earth spins regardless of what just happened. Next time you’re in a conversation with someone and you have opposing ideas, say it not to cause friction but because your opinion deserves to be heard. Next time you want to wear a shirt that might get you a few frowns or whispers for your efforts, do it regardless, because a lion does not concern themselves with the opinion of sheep.
Only from sadness can we know joy and sadness, bitterness and disappointments will be reoccurring guest through your life, we can never control that. However we can control how we react to those events, we can mourn and waddle in pity for the rest of our lives or we can move on, head raised high. Likewise I present to you two alternates continue with your life, be another random mechanic clog in the machine of society and forever live in the shadows of freedom.
Or you can choose inner confidence, where you preferred to be adored by some rather then mildly liked by everyone, choose a world where fear of social consequences doesn’t rule your thoughts or your actions, live in a world where your dreams and possibilities are not hindered by the unwritten codes of society or your ego.
Choose freedom and self expression. Always.
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
– Dr. Seuss
EDITED ON THE 12/3/2015.
If you’re interested in my thoughts on life and the regrets we must escape to live a fulfilling life then click here.