Understanding Ego

Winner: 2015’s Blog of the Year #5

Look, I love you alright? How long do you expect me to watch you torture yourself in all the many ways that you do? Life is awesome. Life is stupendous. There is so much beauty and amazingness in every day that there’s no excuse not to be shouting boisterously from the rooftops. But you? This person that I love. Not you. I don’t get to see you realizing your greatest self. Instead you doom me to watching you weaken and undermine yourself on a routine basis. It’s like watching someone stick pencils in their own eyes.

652 Relax and Succeed - Don't have your mood affect your judgmentIt’s super simple. You’re a crazy hypocrite. I’m doing the same thing when I’m letting my ego get the best of me. But it’s still crazy. You’re in your head bashing your past decisions. But you’re bashing them using the wisdom you gained from those bad decisions. Duh. Painful and crazy. And if you’re not doing that then you’re worrying about your future as though you’re incapable of working out what to do when that’s not true either.

You’ll have all of these options about what to think about or do, and–like pulling the only bad book out of a giant bookcase–you’ll angrily go recall some series of events that only generates anger because you had the audacity to pre-imagine an outcome and then you got attached to that fantasy, as though everyone in the world is the cast in some play created by and for you. The world is not supposed to go your way but that still leaves tons and tons of room for it to be awesome.

Out of the thousands of days of your life you’ll sometimes focus exclusively on all of the worst days you’ve lived. You’ll be so low-consciousness that you will choose to re-live your worst moments. That’s when we all feel suicidal. Everyone does that at least once if not semi-routinely. But like I said, I love you, so it’s painful to watch you volunteer for all of that suffering. Because even though you are thinking all of those negative thoughts, I can see that the real you is okay and it’s just the thought-you that is suffering. When the real you changes the thoughts from suicidal to appreciative you go from weak to strong.

652 Relax and Succeed - Learn to see your emotionsRemember: you are where your consciousness is. But how would you expect to feel if you load your consciousness up with concerns about time and money and status and fears and guilt and regrets? So maybe you should start treating your consciousness more like it’s your mouth. Because then maybe you’ll be more careful with what you put in it.

Stop talking to yourself. Quiet your mind. If it’s coming to you in words it’s your ego every time and it should be quieted and ignored. This is so easy. Just practice it: it doesn’t matter if you’re getting blame or if you’re blaming, if you’re angry, hurt, sad, proud, nervous, insecure–whatever. That’s just an idea-suit you’re wearing. That’s an ego. It’s a collection of ideas about a self (you) that filters out truths about the world around you. So you never see what other people see and they never see what you see. Because we all live in the haze of our own thinking. Within that haze, everyone is genuine and everyone feels misunderstood.

So here it is in a nutshell: it’s like we all move through the world in space suits that are our egos. They are ideas that limit us. And we fill those suits with a magical gas called thought and those thoughts are guaranteed to distort our sense of what’s going on outside of our suit. It’s why on a day when your thought choices are positively distorting the world (a good day), someone will cut you off in traffic and you’ll be quite relaxed and sanguine about it. And on other days you fill the same suit with different thoughts and you’ll call that a bad day and all of a sudden you’re in the movie Death Race 2000.

652 Relax and Succeed - Who is it that is awareYou’ve gotta start realizing you’re the creator of the thoughts you’re not the thoughts themselves. Your society and experiences build your suit, but the real you controls what thoughts the inside-the-suit-you will see the world through. Everyone gets a suit, you’re always looking through a personal haze, but everyone also has total control over the thoughts that go into creating that haze. But you must consciously seize control over your thinking.

The space inside that suit is your consciousness. And the real you is who chooses what thoughts you will fill the suit with and, therefore, which direction your thoughts will distort your view of the world. And it’s not like you have to worry either way—the worst thing that can happen is that you fill your suit with some unpleasant gases for a while. That doesn’t change the world, just your view of it. The suit is always removing old gas and adding new gas anyway, so even if you do nothing your conditions and perspective will change.

It’s not hard: think happy thoughts and things look great. Think negative ones and things turn down. And so wise people are just quiet-minded people. They choose an appreciative, enjoyable and rewarding view and that’s what allows them to see everyone else more clearly. Spiritually and psychologically healthy people don’t usually get their feelings hurt (or for long if they do) because they know not to take things personally. They know that the egos around them aren’t really seeing anyone accurately. People are seeing the judgments and opinions and beliefs that are swirling around inside their suits. So stop putting so much energy into getting people to respect your thinking and instead put that effort into quieting it. Because a clear-headed suit makes the good life a lot easier to find.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.