So today I got to thinking about human ego, is it good, is it bad, what is it even? It’s rather frowned upon to be called an “ego maniac” or to be labeled as “egotistical.” These understandings seem to point to narcissism and arrogance. On the flip side we have the more psychological definition of ego which seems to coincide with one’s understanding of the self. Whether it is the very essence of self or how one values themselves.
Some folks see the ego as an obstacle that needs to be defeated in order to live a more fulfilling life. In other words, ego is the enemy. It’s that part of ourselves that gets in the way of true harmony and what is ultimately good. This is because it is seen as primarily selfish, greedy, or shallow! Religion may describe this as our sinful nature and a secular perspective may describe it as our more base animalistic desires that need to remain in check.
So far, it seems that there is no easy definition for the term ego. This may be because we are trying to understand our own minds and what it is that really makes us tick? What is our essence? What makes us self-aware? We certainly don’t understand it only in the light of our evolution because to be self-aware also impresses upon us this sense of responsibility both for ourselves and others.
It’s actually quite astonishing when I think about it because self-awareness and consciousness itself is kind of like having a super power. When it comes to the degree of influence that we have upon this world and even stretching outside of it toward the vast mysteries of space and our universe is it any wonder why so many of us relate to that Spiderman quote? It goes like this: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Yes indeed, with great power comes great responsibility because it all goes back to this sense of self. This is also the term for ego that I most resonate with and relate to. Our sense of ego, self-importance, self-esteem, and even consciousness itself can be either a hero or a villain depending on how we use it. I think that ego can be a tool because we are simply trying to put into words what it means to be human and what it means to deal with internal conflict.
Conflict of emotions, bodily desires, and then our ultimate sense of morality and goodness. I think that keeping ourselves in check comes from our very powerful ability to self reflect. Every time we self reflect and assess the positives and negatives of our actions we are in a sense attempting to recalibrate our greatest values and ideals.
As a whole humanity recognizes what narcissism ultimately leads to, it leads to isolation, and this isolation from others is primarily self-caused. When we lose input and love from other people we lose our ability to look into the mirror and recalibrate. There may be a very few people that have no sense of strong attachment to others. In other words, they feel indifferent about whether other people are around them or not. We sometimes hear that rare story of a hermit that chose to live his or her life mostly in isolation from other people and the outside world.
It’s a very strange and difficult thing for many of us to relate to because we are a very social and communal species. We get lonely and we crave the company of other people that love and accept us. Perhaps a hermit’s sense of self is fed in some way by the environment that he or she finds themselves in. The reasoning of some of these folks may be that they feel far more at home in the woods. Around nature and all of its natural beauty. It becomes this person’s sense of community and family.
At the end of the day our human egos are just as mysterious and multifaceted as we understand ourselves to be. We are attempting to put into words what it means to be self-aware and what kind of responsibility that entails. In my opinion it is probably best not to understand ego as the enemy but rather as a tool through which we can understand ourselves.
A narcissistic person will ultimately reap the consequences of what it means to feed and express one’s ego in the wrong way. Such a person will have very few friends if any in the end. An empathetic person on the other hand understands how to put their own ego into the shoes of other people. It’s that ability to relate with others because we can imagine all too well how we would feel in the face of suffering and adversity.
So what is the moral of this story you ask? Love and accept yourself as a person that has great power. The fact that you are self-aware means that you are able to exhibit a tremendous amount of influence over other people as well as this world. If your ego doesn’t value other people it shows, however, if you love and feed those parts of you that want to make a positive difference in the world, that too will show and others will want to emulate the way you choose to express your own sense of self.
Peace out and be good to yourselves!