The ego dilemma

The word “Ego” has a somewhat negative aftertaste in recent decades. “Having a big ego” or “caressing your ego” indicates someone’s exaggeration of the self-importance. When somebody is self-centered, it is said that he only pursues his own interests and shamelessly places himself at the center of his world. If such a person is also selfish, he makes others suffer by selectively not taking account of them, their feelings or interests.

Yet we give someone who thinks too much of others and obliterates himself the good advice to grow a “healthy dose of selfishness“. A person who is completely lost in the complexity of the community must “put himself more central” in his decisions and considerations. With this kind of advice, it’s possible to go through life less vulnerable and more consciously.

“Ego” can therefore have both positive and negative content. It seems a bit like too much or too little self-awareness or self-worth. “Too” is never good, we all know that, but how do you find the right balance without those energy-consuming peaks and valleys in behavior that confuse your environment? Daniel Ofman’s quadrant method about core qualities can help. Ask yourself in which quadrant to place an ego-related word that belongs to you, and then fill in the other fields clockwise.

Especially if you do this exercise together with others, you’ll find out that whatever is a challenge for one person, for the other might be an allergy, a core quality or a pitfall. Therefore this kind of quadrants always are strictly individual. Above all it’s about getting your own views clear, so that you know where to speed up, or what could be slowed down, and also why, what you might achieve with it!

The Latin word ego simply means I. Under the influence of philosophy (the “personality“, or “self“) and psychology (“self-image” or “self-awareness“) it is that the hazy explanations in daily speech have taken a somewhat more practical meaning that deviates from the simple personal pronoun . In practice, we use the word ego as the mask that everyone sets out and the people around us respond to. That mask is like a kind of active filter in two directions. On the one hand there are your projections on your environment, your interpretations, how you want to shape it. On the other hand, less pleasant stimuli from the outside are translated into something that lies within your understanding, which you can deal with, and which you (unconsciously) need. A very strong ego thus distorts the world in which you live, and not only yours, but also that of others. If we do not work on our personal development, our ego will only become less transparent. Strong egos collide with each other, weak egos cause lack of clarity and elusiveness. Compare it with concrete versus mist.

No one other than yourself is responsible for the life baggage in your backpack.

Your ego is formed in the course of time based on what you take with you from your birth. For example, think of the Enneagram concept, which says that a person is characterized by the very first reaction to the world. #BrainTricks such as addiction and prejudice feed the ego to maximize benefit from it. From the moment you see the light of day the spiritual baggage that you collect in your rucksack to a large extent encompasses the building blocks for your ego. That is why it is so difficult to distance yourself from it. And yet that is what has to be done. Much of what you have collected is outdated, or based on (in retrospect) erroneous assumptions and observations. It may take some effort, but losing that unnecessary ballast gives you plenty of space and air to breathe to make your ego more effective and efficient. That is what “letting go” means: not losing your ego, but actively maintaining it, so that you create something for yourself and for your environment that is useful, not sitting too dominant in the foreground. You become a different person, without losing yourself. This way you’ll find the right balance for your personal ego dilemma.

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