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Who’s Steering Your Ship? Ego versus Self

What if I told you that there’s been someone else beside you, whispering in your ear since the day you were born?

She was there with you in kindergarden when you snatched the paintbrush from that little boy, convincing you that you needed the instrument more than him. She was there when you were sixteen, remember? She kept telling you all the the reasons you should be jealous of that friend who had the stuff you didn’t; better clothes, cooler parents, a later curfew.

She was there when you got your first taste of success at work, or at uni. She told you how damn good it felt and pushed you to achieve again, to get another quick fix, fast, so she could flaunt it to everyone around you. She made snide remarks in your ear about anyone who outdid you in work, study, sport, life, anything.
Maybe you sometimes told her to grow up and shut up. Maybe you sometimes joined in.

Her name is Ego, and to some extent she has had a hold on you ever since you were taught to see yourself as an “I”, an individual entity, or as author and public speaker Deepak Chopra put it; “an isolated mind” packed in a body.
The concept of the “me”, in opposition to the “us”.

All around us, we see how certain individuals are worshipped, on Instagram and other more traditional celebrity publications. We see how they are in turn, torn down when they step a foot wrong.

We glorify the self. We put them on a pedestal. And we secretly enjoy seeing them fall…
Perhaps we forget that deep down, we are all craving the same simple things. We are all united.

Chances are, when I started talking about ego, you wanted to push this idea away with both hands. Ego’s are for cocky, middle aged businessmen who think they’re top shit, right?

Not so. The ego resides in all of us, especially those of us that still crave success in the traditional sense; material gain, honour, and status. That is, owning a bitchin’ house. Getting that job a thousand girls would kill for. Making other people jealous of your amazing life.

Here’s the thing; it is impossible to stay on top when you’re seeing everyone else around you as a competitor. There will always be an Instagram post, a magazine article or a piece of through-the-grapevine news to remind you someone is currently more successful, wealthier, or more attractive than you. It is a losing battle. You will never win.

Don’t get me wrong , it’s amazing to have goals and smash through them! The problem arises when our intent for smashing these goals are purely to have others think highly of us. That is, doing it for the likes, doing it for the compliments, doing it to be seen as a success in the eyes of others. I’ve lost my way here, many times before.

Sure, external validation feels pretty damn good in the moment. Say you got a special mention from your boss at work, or you just uploaded something that was promptly swamped with likes. It’s hard not to feel a little bit amazing in these times. But these times are fleeting. Like drinking or drugs or a spike in blood sugar levels, it’s an unsustainable high. And it always will be.

So what do we do about this?

Firstly, we stop worrying about how our life looks to other people, and start focussing on how it truly feels to us. We recognize and observe the egotistical thoughts when they come. We watch them come. We laugh at them. And then we watch them leave. Rather than chasing money, approval and status as sources of sustainable happiness, we strive for what Chopra calls “higher values”; love, truth, creativity, compassion. Highs without the hangover. Highs that last.

If the world was blind, who would you impress ?

We start thinking a little more about the “we”, and a little less about the “me”. We strive to invest our energy in something that adds value to the life of people who surround us.

We start doing things with Love.

Love and compassion for all human and living beings.
Love and appreciation for this beautiful planet on which we live.
Love in every thought and action.

And this will all come back straight at us.

“Travel light. Be the light. Spread the light.”

As Buddha put it, suffering arises from craving, and craving ceases with enlightenment. It ceases when we come to realize that all the love you need to be happy, is already there, within your chest. And if you stop and sit for a few minutes everyday, you will feel its sweet power.

This is an ongoing process, and we must be gentle and patient when we feel Ego’s hair falling over our shoulder as she once again leans in to pass a jealous or status-oriented comment. She isn’t a monster. She’s just insecure and scared. Acknowledge what she’s saying, then smile to yourself, knowing her words aren’t at all indicative of your true self.

Let’s rewire our ways a little… Come with me with my weekly posts and we can work it out together, Salty goddesses. We got this.

About the Author:

Caitlin is a journalist and writer from Australia. She’s into collecting and sharing the stories of other human people. Mostly women’s stories. You can find her at @caitlincreeper

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