I’ve been wary about the “content” I put out (is that why it took me a month to publish this issue? Oops!). Increasingly I don’t want to create things that simply help to advance my career or to improve my reputation in this world. I want instead to create things that make this world better, even if slightly.
As I continue to work on my awareness (a much-needed exercise, I must add), I’m beginning to see that so much of the world is built on ego. The ego is a double-edged sword that allows us to survive and thrive in this world, but if we are not careful it can also become highly destructive and unhealthy.
Nowadays, when consuming (an article, a book, an app, or any kind of product), I stop to ask myself if this is something that was built on the foundation of one’s ego. Of course, everything in this world is built on the ego, but to what extent? The extent matters. The second question I ask myself is, does this thing create good in the world, no matter how little?
That’s my guideline to consumption nowadays, but it also influences the things I put out into the world.
The truth is that I can do a lot if I allow my ego to steer the way. I have certainly gone down that road before. I can use my ego to help me achieve more, go more places. I can second-guess my audience and put out things that I know they will like. I can be much less sincere and much more calculated. But once I do that, my intention has become tainted by the ego.
Our ego wants to build a self-image that can stand up to the impermanence of the world, so that it can sweep all our deepest, darkest issues under the carpet: Our lack of love and respect for ourselves, our low self-esteem, our desire to be loved by others…
Since the ego fiercely fears its destruction, it can be very hard to separate the ego from your “self”. The ego lies and tricks, so how do you know you’re doing something with the right intention rather than just wanting to go on an ego trip, to feel good about yourself, to fill that hole in your heart?
Having noticed this fact, it’s still really hard to kill the ego, or as they say, to “die to myself” daily, but that’s precisely what I need to do every single day in order to walk the path back to my true self.
One thing I have realised is that my social media use reinforces my ego daily. My posts scream to the world that “I AM HERE. Look at me.” I crave for people to like and comment on my posts so that I can get the validation that I sorely need. And why do I post at all? A lot of times it’s to build and bolster my own self image. I’m trying to seem a certain way to people – successful, well-rounded, self-assured, secure in the world. That’s what I want to be, and that’s how I want people to see me.
All of that occurs in my subconsciousness – half the time I’m barely aware of what’s happening. But upon careful, constant reflection I find that this is the truth – distasteful, uncomfortable, but the truth.
But of course, I don’t want to succumb to perfectionism. It’s tempting to want to be perfect and flawless. And you see, that’s the ego speaking again. Instead of perfectionism, perhaps what we can more healthily strive for is working for other people’s good in mind, without wanting anything back. This is the opposite of perfectionism, which is self-oriented. Being other-oriented might be the antidote that can help drag us out of our narcissistic stupor and bring us back on the path towards ourselves, but we must be careful not to do it with ourselves in mind. Tricky yah?
For all the awareness in the world, it can still be hard to practise this whole “killing my ego” thing, but practise we must. It’s the only way out of suffering. Yet practice implies that one never becomes perfect – one only gets better. The curve goes upwards, endlessly.
There is no ending point to aim at, no point at which one becomes “perfect”. I think this is an extremely helpful thing to remember.