Thursday, May 17, 2012

We Are All a Little Egotistical

Some people talk about the ego as if it were some alien outside thing, something separate from ourselves. Others see it as an insult. For most of my life, I wasn't really aware of it, but I am continuously learning how to better recognize it. So what is it, exactly? It's the part of us that gives us personality, the filter through which we experience the world, the "avatar" we use to communicate and identify each other, the thing that makes us unique.  From an evolutionary point-of-view, it's a complex series of processes that enabled our species to thrive by creating very complex social structures, building memories of experiences that include others' experiences, in-depth calculations that lead to better self-preservation, creative abilities that utilize the environment in complex ways, etc. Other animals are very limited because they have a limited view of "self" and the bigger picture. It is an amazing accomplishment for an animal to learn and absorb everything around it starting from a very early age, so it's easy for us to become exponentially more intelligent, if we wanted. We unconsciously inherit behavior from our parents, which did wonders for our survival. It's a tool that, unfortunately, is now biting us in the ass.

In my past, I was engrossed in this "illusion" of life - going to school, working, partying, laughing at the newest popular joke. I'd get angry at people for saying the wrong thing, drama would infiltrate my circle of friends, money would be spent on things that made references to a particular game or childhood show, or it made me happy. How many people do stuff like this? Do you? This is all ego stuff. A waste of time and energy that could be better spent. We think it's normal for us to get angry, that the other person is wrong and did something terrible. But, really, it's us. We don't have to get angry, but we unconsciously learned it through our experiences. Unconsciously learning and repeating inherited responses, limiting beliefs, character and values...

We think we want something, but why do we always need more and more things? Why do we need to decorate our bodies, hide its imperfections, and sacrifice health for our entertainment? Why do we think we are always right in arguments when we are arguing the exact opposite with the exact same evidence? Why do we judge others' actions based on our code of ethics, when our idea of "ethical" is entirely unique to each of us? Why do we make assumptions about a person's intentions based on our outside observations, when in reality it is simply our interpretation based on our past experiences? Even if someone called us egotistical, it is your ego getting offended, putting emotion into that word. Maybe you're angry because they're right, and you refuse to accept it.

There are varying degrees of "egotistical", which does not necessarily mean it's bad.  I think the problem is that most people are completely unaware of it, thus perpetuating this cycle of war, arguments, divorce, bullying, legal disputes, etc. All of this doesn't work anymore. We are killing each other and ourselves, distrusting one another, fighting each other, when we can ALL live better lives and be happy. No one can prove nor disprove that God exists as we all see our "proof" in different ways.

This doesn't mean someone can't be selfless, but it's up to that person to decide when they need to take care of themselves, while our definition of "selfless" is determined by each of us.

Even when I'm constantly on the lookout for my ego, it still catches me off guard. I find myself getting upset, hurt, or offended by particular situations, even saying things that my parents would say. These things make me unhappy, limit myself, perpetuate cycles of hurt; stuff that I don't need. Fortunately I have my husband to point out my ego for me. It can be really difficult to recognize it (as my ego), accept it (as my ego getting out of hand), and change my mind (and surpass my ego), so the other part of the equation is you. Are you willing to accept responsibility for your ego and its programmed responses? Are you willing to search high and low to figure out how to "fix" yourself? Can you agree to disagree and let everyone just be, without judgment? Can you release your fears and worries? Can you control your emotional responses to everything? How badly do you want to be free? To truly create a better world?

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