The Dangers of the Ego Affliction (Part1)
I wrote this as part of the weekly perspective series I’m starting on my blog. The weekly perspective is a place to share, explore, and further develop ideas or insights that have been floating in our heads within the past week. There are no back-links, no references, just pure thought spread onto a concise blog post.
Have you ever noticed how there is always one or two friends in a group whom redirect the conversation to always be about them? It seems that everything they say is to validate themselves and they speak simply because they like to hear the sound of their voice. These people are often closed minded, unavailable to feedback and are a literal brick wall to hold a conversation with. Often you will bring up a topic, and they will redirect it into some misguided story about themselves. Before you know it, there is an awkward silence, and you are left wondering, what is this person’s problem?
The problem that these people have is that they are fully engulfed with the deception of their ego. They are afflicted with a nasty case of egotism, and if you are not careful, you may be the next one to suffer from this debilitating plague.
Ego is a natural part of our lives. We all have an ego. We can never fully separate ourselves from our ego, and usually we can live happy, normal lives with it. There is nothing wrong with wanting a small congrats for a big accomplishment. I mean, after all, you did just bust your ass to accomplish such a feat, a little recognition doesn’t hurt.
The danger comes when we are constantly seeking this validation and can no longer validate others. The danger comes when we are so obsessed with our own world that we fail to see success of others and feel joy for their accomplishments. The danger is that we may become consumed with ego and believe all the neat lies that it spells out for us.
When you become consumed with your ego, you begin to think that everything you do is perfect and you are the most important person on the planet. Your accomplishments are the only way you validate yourself. Soon you lose sight of your inherent internal value and are dependent on the validation of others or external accomplishments for happiness. This is a dangerous road to go down.
Without the ability to internally validate yourself, you begin to more aggressively seek this validation from others. You tell more elaborate stories about yourself, find more creative ways to redirect the conversation about yourself and become more lucrative in the ways at which you boast.
Meanwhile, outside of your social groups, you begin to push yourself harder and faster in your professional circle. Inflated with a false sense of immortality, you take on more projects then you can handle, work longer hours than most people would dare, and continually take riskier and riskier decisions at the work place. The immediate pay off fuels your ego and pushes you achieve more. In the short term you are excelling, but in the long run you have just dug yourself an early grave.
Burnout, social annihilation, and catastrophic failure are soon to follow if you allow the ego plague to fester in yourself for more than a few months. This is when the ego is in its most dangerous phase. All three of these symptoms directly conflict with your self-image of being a human goddess and the ego will have no part in such embarrassment. It therefore forces you to hide, and to seek isolation from the world. You begin to separate yourself from your friends because you look like a fool, and no longer take any risks at work because you can’t handle the thought of failing. Your amazing work ethic is now mediocre at best as you no longer push yourself to your potential.
The ego wants to play it safe from here on out. It creates legions of irrational fears to hold you in its grips. It deceives you with lies not of grandeur but of false realities of the instability of the outside world. This is where you will remain for months, maybe years. Depending on how bad the fall from grace was, you may never strive to fly again. As long as you are affected with the ego plague, you will remain in darkness and never see the light. Your ego is now in complete control of your life. The only chance you have at this point is to release the ego from your life. This is the only way you are ever going to get back on track and resume living your life.
Releasing the ego is a complicated ordeal. You can’t fully release it because it is ingrained in your personality and is a healthy part of everyone’s life. Yet you can’t fully embrace it because then you are stuck in the plague of egoism. Therefore, you must let the ego exist. Neither resist or embrace, simply let it be. To make peace with the ego is the only way you will be released from its grip. To make peace with the ego is the cure for the affection which will sooner or later infect us all.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the weekly perspective! Part two will be addressing how to make peace with your ego through self-awareness. Be sure to check it out within the next few days!
Also special thanks to Ryan Holiday and his book Ego is the Enemy! I would not be able to think so deeply about this topic without his own wisdom.
Feel free to leave a comment or get in touch. I appreciate any feedback!