Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Ego and Mindfulness

If you haven't read my previous post, you should do so before reading this.

What really is the ego? What do we mean every time we say someone has a big ego? Is the ego bad? Why is this even important?

As simply as possible, the ego is how we perceive ourselves, more so at the unconscious level. As mentioned in my previous posts, it's who we believe we are; all our traits, characteristics from inside out. In many ways, it's a reflection of who we actually want to be but already deep down think we are.

Hurt. Ever felt that before? 99.9% of the time hurt comes from a challenged ego. When you were a kid, did you feel hurt when you parents didn't buy you a particular toy? You cried, didn't you? It hurt. You never asked why, you just accepted it and let that hurt be masked with a secondary emotion: anger.

Now, think about it. Why were you hurt? Because you didn't get the toy? No, you never had the toy your whole life you never felt hurt until this point. So why? Because you feel your parents don't love you? Close, but not quite there yet.

You were hurt because your ego was challenged. You thought that because they didn't buy you that toy, they didn't love you which you believed meant that you were not worthy of being loved. Your ego was bruised because you thought you were not worthy(which you are actually). It can sound stupid now and it's not age that makes you see it as stupid, it's simply because you are not in the situation. You face similar situations but in different areas of your life now that you're older.

So when person A says person B has hurt him, what really has happened is person B has done something without the intention to hurt but in the process has challenged person A's ego and person A reacts by being hurt. Person B didn't actually hurt person A, person A is hurt because of his own ego.

Here are 2 facts about your ego:
1) It distorts reality
2) This is the good news: It isn't real. It's an idea, a concept.

Now we get to the interesting concepts that you will need to read very carefully in order to catch it.

Your ego distorts reality. It is like a filter between what is really out there and how you perceive it. Take for example you decide to meet someone at 5pm. The person is 45 minutes late and now you're thinking, "I mustn't be important to this person that's why he/she isn't making an effort to be on time."

Reality: The person fell down on the way and had to get the wound dressed and is now limping to where ever you are.
Your "reality": I'm not important enough for someone to show on time to meet me.

Now maybe someone being late isn't your thing, isn't your trigger point. Maybe you're always late so you never get to encounter this and this may sound stupid to you. But it certainly happens to a lot of people. And it may not be this specific scenario, but it most probably happens to you too in its own form; whatever really "gets to you". Just do some reflection about anytime you had "negative" emotions. Think hard enough and you'll see it.

Now, this may sound really stupid to you, even if it does happen to you. The reason it still happens is because the thought process is so fast and unconscious that we almost skip it and move straight to what comes next: the emotions - Hurt, anger, anxiety, whatever. If you were aware of your thoughts, your ego, the distortion, it would sound so stupid to you, you wouldn't feel that gush of negative emotions. If you were aware, we call that being mindful. That is a big, big part of my self-development/inner work - mindfulness. Take this as the very tip of the iceberg of what mindfulness is and what it can do for you, I'll dedicate another post to mindfulness.

When someone is egoistic he is usually self-centered and narcissistic. Well, that's what everyone's ego is, regardless "big" or "small". The filter distorts reality to write stories and scripts as they happen FOR or TO YOU. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Things don't happen to you or for you. They just happen. It is the ego that is so self-centered and narcissistic that sees the world as revolving around the ego itself, ie YOU. Now, nothing wrong here, no need to feel bad or beat yourself up if that's you. Recognize it, recognize it's not your fault(not everything is about you remember?) and work on it.

Needless to say a big ego and a low self-esteem is a formula for not disaster but really, Armageddon. Not only will you perceive everything as it is for or to you, but you will perceive negatively to feed your low self-esteem believes about yourself.

So really there are 3 ways to work around all of these. Work on the ego part, work on the esteem part and become more mindful.

Now here's something for you to realise, if you haven't already, about the ego. It's not real. Who you think you are, everything you think about yourself, the person you think of when you say "I", its all garbage. It's an idea, a concept. Realising this is actually considered a form of realization in the self-development and spiritual world.

Again we will use mindfulness to see. Remember how reality was so different from "your reality" in a previous example? Well, reality of who you really are is again different from who you perceive yourself to be. Your ego are the stories you tell yourself. The expectation you lay onto yourself. It is not who you are. You just are... just as how the world just is... you are a part of this entire mechanism we call the universe. The world does not revolve around you, nothing happens to or for you.

Your laptop of smartphone that you're viewing this from... it just is. You are the one that gave value to it and label it as a laptop of smartphone and decided if it's "useful" or "useless". The way you see things, you are constantly looking at it from a perception of self, but the self does not exist. You never see anything for what it is, you see everything for what it means to you as though its purpose of existence was meant to serve you.

Through practice and mindfulness, one can detach oneself from the ego and perceive reality without distortion. Some distortion may be(or only seem to be) harmless, but many of them, proven in the example earlier, can be destructive. For a start, just look at whatever is around you for what it really is and not what it is for you. Stop giving things labels.

Also, try perceiving yourself from a bird's eye view. One that goes higher and higher up all the way until you see the shape of Earth and the other planets and beyond. This exercise should help you realise how you are in continuous motion with the universe, not a separate entity your ego has you believing. Nothing happens to or for you. Everything happens with you.

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