The Ego Vs. The World

No matter who among us desires to be seen as humble, and no matter who among us actually achieve it, we all have egos. Each and every one of us.

The ego serves as a kind of insulator, a protector between the ways in which we choose to see the world, and the way it actually is. For some, this goes to the extreme of egomania or a kind of self-centeredness that causes a very real and genuine belief (albeit sometimes unspoken or unconscious) that the would quite literally revolves around them and only them.

Of course, this isn’t true of anyone reading (or writing) this blog.

Never.

Of course not.

How silly of me to even mention it.

Huh?

The truth we never want to admit is that we all egomaniacs of one sort or another, because we all see the world through our own eyes and experiences, and those filters inherently change perception.

The key differences we will find amongst ourselves has more to do with whether we use the ego as a tool for good, or allow it to be a self-determined monster.

Ego as Monster

This doesn’t require a ton of explanation, because we’ll all both seen this person, and have been this person.

A style of walk that indicates fear of nothing and command of everything. A way of sitting that takes up more space than is physically required for your body as a means of indicating that you’re big and strong and deserving of the deference indicated by large space. A talking down to those deemed inferior – whether they are perceived as being less (like service personnel) or as being stupid (meaning less intelligent or learned). The sort of person who is courted by those who strive to become that, and avoided by those who are actually holding on to some semblance of sanity.

I’m not going to venture into the idea that often these people who give the appearance of having the largest egos you’ve ever encountered are often covering up for fears and a sense of inadequacy. That is well-known. What matters in this scenario is that the filters we all have for taking in data from the world in which we exist have been given a place of importance in this person’s mind and heart that makes about as much sense as putting a screen door on a submarine.

Filters through which we take in communications and other stimuli around us are just that; filters. Sometimes they’re wrong. But we can sometimes give to them too much importance and then they skew our perception of the world and tend to subsequently screw up our lives. Not a good scenario.

Ego as a Tool for Good

Let’s be honest. If you’re without an ego, you’re without any sense of self. Yes, I am fully aware of a number of spiritual traditions that advocate the shedding of the Self. More carefully examined and more fully understood, however, they’re not actually about the killing of the ego; they’re about seeing it for what it is – a set of filters, which are really just tools – and not giving those tools any more importance than is needed.

I like to think of it this way …

When our ego is being used by us as a force for good, we are empowered to see ourselves as we are seen by others. What I mean by this is that we use these filters to sift through the sensory inputs that are heaped upon us day-in and day-out, and drawing from them a sense of the ways in which we are being experienced by those around us. The ways in which our words hurt or heal. The ways in which our actions or inaction are contributing to either healing and hope or death and despair.

The Point

Part of what has really messed with the past six months of my life has been the fact that I work for someone who is not using the ego as a force for good. Instead, his ego is being used to destroy both individuals and a company. In really ugly ways. And the saddest part to me is that I do believe he no longer realizes that’s what he’s doing. The monster is in total control and is fast becoming a sort of cancerous mass that is growing exponentially. And cancers of that sort usually have the same messy, sad ending.

For a long time, I was allowing that ego to crush me. To adversely effect my own ego – my own sense of self. And I realized it had to stop.

That’s really hard.

Somewhere along the line, I came to understand that I have the ability to control my own ego and that in so doing I began to see the ways in which others see me. It was kind of scary. And uncomfortable. And made me want to go live in a cave far, far from normal society. But then I realized that the kitty box still needed someone to scoop it, so I decided I’d better stick around.

So I started trying to use my ego for good and not evil.

I’m the first to admit that I’m not perfect at it yet. This is mostly because I think this is a long process that is fraught with fits and starts. Still, I keep trying. Trying to see myself as others see me, and adjusting my behavior to project to the world the person I really – deep in my soul – want to be.

I’ll get there one of these days. In the interim, it’s proving to be an interesting journey.

One Response to The Ego Vs. The World
  1. Fred
    January 13, 2010 | 10:32

    Self inspection while under the thumb of a bad work environment can be tricky. While I’ve seen my share of corporate blow-ups the ones leading the charge into the dead-end valley seem to walk away with few noticeable bruises.

    I like your idea of ‘using the ego as a force for good’ and protecting yourself from the other.
    .-= Fred´s last blog ..Flying With A Good Idea =-.

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