Saturday, June 25, 2016

The solution to all your problems - Inner work & ego

Problems problems problems.. Do you feel like there's always something wrong? Today you feel lousy about being fat, tomorrow you feel sad/angry about your past and the next day all is good except you just lack a sense of fulfillment? Or are your problems more "physical"? Tough times? We all got them.

I've recently embarked on a journey of self-development and I've discovered some really eye opening concepts that makes me realise where most of my problems(or any problem anywhere) stem from. What's crazy is after learning these concepts, I see its real life application everywhere and although I'm reluctant to share this(because its a personal journey), I feel it could benefit a lot of people out there. Also, just a good way to digest my own thoughts by writing(or typing) it down - Something that's part of self-development anyway.

This is a huge topic so I'll be splitting it into many posts(hopefully I don't stop after one or two posts, we'll see). The first big revelation I had about self-development is what it actually is; If you asked me a year ago what self-development is, I would say it's building up character, learning to be a more hard working and driven individual etc.

What I came to realize is quite different; those are very shallow ideas of what self-development is, which in my opinion makes it entirely wrong definitions. Those are the side effects of self-development but not what self-development is in itself.

A better word for self-development would be inner work. As the name suggests, its really about working on yourself from the ground up. Physical attributes, character, behaviors.. these are all the outer layers. They are the indicators and the symptoms for what really lies deep beneath. When you really get to the core of yourself, your esteem, your ego, your psychological wiring, your past, those stuff... those are the inner stuff.

Those are the stuff that are responsible for making you happy but more often than not, because we fail to take care of them, responsible for your problems/suffering.

Through inner work we realise that a lot of our problems are actually our own doing. You start to make sense of what it means to "take responsibility for everything that happens to you". That phrase goes deeper than merely accepting all blames and faults because its somehow going to make you better. No, it's realizing why it really is your responsibility and your sufferings are really your own doing.

Identifying that there is a problem is the first step to fixing it. Most people go round and round in vicious cycles in life never truly ending their problems or suffering, thinking that's life. They don't realise there is a problem to fix and instead treat every downward spiral in life as a tragedy blaming it on others, life and sometimes themselves but in the wrong way and never with the intention to look deeper. Now there's nothing wrong here. If that's you, don't beat yourself up for it or you would be doing exactly what you're beating yourself up for.

Here's an example of inner work: One of the biggest areas that need work for people is the ego. The common understanding of the ego is quite warped. When people hear the word ego they immediately picture this person in their head that is attention seeking and has a lot of "pride". What ego really is, is the "you". Is who you believe you are. All your ideas about who you are from the bottom to the top, from character to looks. It is the "I" you think you are. It is your perception of yourself; who you believe yourself to be.

A lot of people are more egoistic and narcissistic than they themselves realise. I don't mean it in the conventional way where you walk around with such a big ego etc but really in a more subtle way. You see, the conventional idea of ego and humble are really just very shallow ideas. Not everyone deals with a bruised ego the same way. A "humble" person might have a huge ego as well, he just doesn't show it but instead deals with it by keeping it inside. It doesn't make his ego any smaller, it just hides it from plain sight, including his own.

Take for example being rejected by someone. You notice how some people are able to treat it like is: she just simply isn't interested. Everyone has their own preference and not everyone has to be interested in you. Move on with barely a thought.
While you notice some people treat it like a drama show. They are angry, they are hurt, they are sad. And they just can't seem to accept the fact they have been rejected. They get depressed. It appears as though they are so desperate or what not. And all he can think about is the girl.

What really is happening is the second person simply has a big ego and written in that ego is that everyone likes him. He think he is very likable. So by being rejected, he sense of self, his identity, his ego and his very being is being threatened here. And because the ego can be something we unconsciously hold very close to ourselves, its as though his very existence is being threatened. Now he's not who he thought he was, he starts feeling threatened or even anxious and it creates this 'fight or flight response'. Which is where a lot of anxiety and depression problems arise. So when he think his problem is with the girl and that he really likes her or that the he needs her and it seems as though everything is about her... the truth is its all about himself. It's really a "me" problem he is dealing with.

Inner work is identifying problems like these and rectifying it. Easier said than done but definitely doable and worth it. In this case, working on the ego is a start for inner work. The ego is actually such a big and interesting concept that really deserves a post on its own which will be my next post should I choose to continue.

Note: I'm not a master on inner work and I'm going through my own journey. It can take a lot of courage to admit to yourself that you have certain areas that need work or to admit to yourself you've an ego problem etc, but it is well worth it.

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