The belief of being separate from the world is more of an assumption, ingrained in us from birth. We are given names, preferences, ideas, and attitudes we readily internalize, celebrate, and cultivate into identities.
Are these identities permanent? Not really. We all eventually perish, and even those “immortalized” in history because of their achievements or misdeeds will eventually fade into obscurity.
Do others perceive you in the same way you perceive yourself? Not likely. It is very plausible in fact, that each person you know has a drastically different opinion of you. How real can our identities really be if they’re constantly changing, impermanent, and subject to varied interpretation?
The ego has long been the enemy of ancient religions and modern spirituality alike. It is attributed as the primary source of human suffering and for the most part, this is true. A large swath of the pain you’ve experienced in life is because of ego. Fear, embarrassment, and failure result from attachment to outcomes. These outcomes need to materialize to validate your self-image (ego) and whenever this doesn’t happen, you experience deep pain.
With this in mind, should we seek to abandon our egos for good? Yes and no. For someone striving for greatness (you!), ego can play a pivotal role in your success if proper control and discipline is exerted. Make it a tool, using it only when necessary.
The rule is to engage in ego-driven behavior only when it will immediately result in furthering a positive goal you have. Determining whether a behavior fits these parameters can be tough work, especially at first. Let’s break it down.
Positive Goal – This is the most important prerequisite. A positive goal is something like making 20% more money this year, finishing a book every week, or getting yourself to go to the gym when you’re supposed to. A positive goal is NOT winning that argument with some stranger about politics, or stalking your ex on social media so you can rationalize why they’re missing out on you. Don’t try to pass behavior you know is negative as positive, basic stuff.
Immediate Result – You need to see that the result of your ego-driven behavior will benefit your goal in some tangible way.
Let’s end of with an example of when to do this and when not to do this.
WRONG WAY: You’re at a social gathering, someone fact checks you. Do you take it personal, get butt hurt, and deploy full ego forces? No. What’s missing here is a clear positive goal. Your self image does not need to be preserved at the expense of peace of mind. Unless this person was blatantly disrespectful, there’s no need to take the issue any further. Let it go. If for whatever reason impulse triumphs, do everything you can to modulate your anger into energy to put towards your goals.
RIGHT WAY: It’s late, you’re only 80% finished with what you’re supposed have finished but you’re tired and need motivation. Suddenly, you think to yourself “Wait a minute, I’m the best! No one does this better than me, I work while others sleep. The true greats must do extra.” and immediately gain the energy to power through your fatigue. This is a great instance where a little ego can be utilized to muster energy and motivation, resulting in a positive outcome.
Like most things in life, ego is a mixed bag. Now that you know how to use it to your benefit, you are better equipped to handle adversity on your journey to success.
Now go and be great!
Get a GoatLyfe Tee because you don’t exist so what does it matter.