Ego Is The Enemy of Recovery
In a society filled with “experts” on every subject, we have seen too many people give advice from a place of ego. Many people do not look to help others, rather they are looking to make themselves feel more important, whether it be a compliment, money or some Facebook likes. Ego, or the need to protect an image of oneself, has made many people rich or famous but has that image created success? True success is the ability to be comfortable with all aspects of your life, not just to be financially sound or adored by many. Success is predicated around how you feel about yourself and the world around you; that is something that cannot be achieved by a life driven by ego alone.
In Ryan Holliday’s book “Ego is The Enemy” he discusses the self-imposed limitations set by one’s ego. Whether it be sports, business or life, ego has a way of holding us back. We have seen examples of this many times before. We all remember those Friday nights we would go to blockbuster and rent a video. We would go home with our tape and our snacks and enjoy a nice evening. That is until Blockbuster let ego destroy what they had. As technologies advanced we began to see the emergence of new companies like Redbox and of course Netflix. What many people do not know is that the CEO of blockbuster, John Anntioco, passed up on the opportunity to buy Netflix for $50 million, which at the time was a video mailing service. He believed that it was a very niche market and it was his ego that did not let him see the change that was coming. Netflix is now valued over $32.9 billion.
Ego is the enemy of recovery as well. It took me a long time to understand why some people move on from addiction while others do not, and while there are other variables, ego plays a significant role. It is ego that tells us that the problem is the drugs or everyone else and not ourselves. It’s ego that tells us after going through a 7-day detox that we do not want help and can do things on our own. It creates fear; fear that we are not enough, or that we are weak and that something is wrong with us. It gives us a false sense of pride, a sense that creates separation from ourselves and everyone else. It gives us the feeling that no one else could possibly understand how we feel, and it is the cause of isolation.
The reality is that we all have our problems, and we all can use some help. Is it beneficial for someone who is over weight to hire a personal trainer or a nutritionist? Is it beneficial for an athlete to have a coach and work on their skills? The truth is there was a problem before we started using drugs. The drugs were just temporary solution to the problem that ended up becoming a problem itself. Meaning that even after we detox we still have work to do. And it does not stop there because life does not stop. Ego is not something that will go away. It is very easy to become comfortable and complacent in our lives, and we forget about the work it took to get to that place. Much like a basketball team gaining a large lead in a game. Once the lead has been established many teams change the game plan and their effort because they become comfortable, and they forget about the game plan and execution that was the cause of their success in the first place. Many people relapse years after they get help and while some say it is because it is a disease perhaps it could be because we get comfortable. We feel as though we no longer should work on ourselves or grow as people and we forget how far we have come because of the work we had already put in.
Jerry Rice, one of the greatest NFL receivers of all time one said “I think the thing about that was I was always willing to work; I was not the fastest or biggest player but I was determined to be the best football player I could be on the football field, and I think I was able to accomplish that through hard work.” Jerry was never concerned with what everyone else was doing around him, nor was he concerned with their skill level, he stayed focused on improving himself. He could have become complacent as he began to see success but he continued to do the things that brought him success in the first place. That is no different from life. If we stop focusing on improving ourselves we will begin to compare ourselves to others, we can become complacent and left to be reacting to life as opposed to guiding it and enjoying it.
The key to recovery is to decide what we want our lives to be like, to focus on ourselves and our own progress and be willing to put the work in to get to where we want to be. That is going to mean asking for help, that will mean having mentors or others to look up to and learn from and it will also mean pushing past our comfort zones and challenging ourselves to do more. We can all have success. Success in health, in love, in career; but to do that we must be willing to kick ego to the curb and understand that it is about the process and not the destination.