by @deeper.dimension

The Ambiguity Of The Ego

Quickly, Get Out OF Your Comfort Zone

When I was a kid I used to watch a fair bit of TV. Despite the usual negative connotations associated with television, it opened my eyes to a lot. I watched surfers catching waves on the coast of Australia, rockers building choppers in the heart of the States, explorers travelling to remote places across the Earth and beyond. I watched Bear Grylls surviving in the Amazon and Mythbusters blowing up stuff in the name of science.

In my mind, I always had the thought “Woah, I’m gonna do all this stuff when I grow up. Being a grown-up must be awesome.” But all around me, I could see the adults not doing any of it. They were engulfed in everyday tasks, stressed out and worried at all times. And I could not wrap my head around: Why? Why would people inhabit such an exhilarating world and still choose to focus on the little annoying things in lifе? Is our own ego threatening our development or is the answer more ambiguous than this? 


The Dangerous Stability Of Our Inner World

All photos by @deeper.dimension

It is pretty normal for children to have those sparks in their eyes of one day living a thrilling life. But as time passes, we grow up and more and more of us give up along the way. Suddenly the wide world of opportunity becomes too big and scary. Strangers seem not worthy of trust, instead of potential friends. And instead of places of wonder, unknown places give us an unsettling feeling. When exposed to new ideas, instead of blowing our minds, threaten the stability of our inner world. The big goals become too big to achieve and the high standards drop to the lowest attainable level. Before we know it, we find ourselves scraping by.

I’d love to tell you how I have always been a big dreamer while the people around me just give up on their dreams… but I’d lie. There have been plenty of occasions where I have made the decision to settle for the minimum because of the fear that more is unattainable and I’m not worthy of it. And every time I have made that ‘safe’ choice, I came out of it dissatisfied at best and f*cking miserable at worst.

Luckily for me, I would always have mad anxiety when this happens, so I never really had a choice but to take the next step. Unfortunately, for many of the people around me, I saw that they settled for the familiar and the comfortable.

Why should we do it?

Before, I didn’t, but now I get them. It’s a constant pain to enter new fields, visit unknown places, meet strangers, learn new skills. Even borderline masochistic always having to push the boundaries of what we’re familiar with, of our knowledge, questioning our beliefs. We feel stupid, out of place, incompetent and incapable.  They reject, look down or simply laugh at us. Why should we do it?

The Promised Land

I figured out that a lot of what has hi-jacked my vision in the past and in the present is my ego. I might be oversimplifying it but the ego’s only job is to keep you alive and it does so by drawing upon what you have already done or experienced, which, the ego figures, did not get you killed up until that moment. And the more you have done it, the higher the chance that it won’t get you killed in the future, no matter how good/bad this action, thought or belief was for you. So the ego will use all its powers to make you repeat it over and over, simply because it considers it safe. Talk about free will.

Now, if this thing as brushing your teeth, it’s all good. But if the habit is to go mute every time there’s a new person around you, you can imagine how that may pose some difficulties with finding new friends, partners or opportunities.

The truth is that most of the things we fear do not directly threaten us, but they threaten our sense of identity. And it might feel like we are dying but it is actually our outer shell peeling off. Once this happens, it reveals the real person inside – a person of vulnerabilities and mistakes, but much stronger and agile than a person of ego.

All photos by @deeper.dimension

So how do we get rid of the ego?

It is quite a buzz to talk about getting rid of your ego. Many spiritual gurus sell it but ultimately that’s the wrong question to ask. We all need the ego to operate in this world and it may have some great positive sides to it. 

I.e. If you always thought to be a good writer, you will write a lot and that would, in turn, make you a good writer. If you believe to be a great orator or an avid painter, your ego will make you even better which in turn will make your ego even stronger.
The difficult part is when we cannot realise that the ego is a knife with two blades and an illusory twist, where it can be good and bad for you at the same time. Talk about quantum duality.
What I mean by that is, that even if we are self-aware and we think we have it in check, the ego often slips unnoticed from our grip and hi-jacks our emotions to serve its own needs.

An Example of This

You have always been an excellent scientist, you won multiple awards across the globe and you even got knighted by the queen of England or whatnot. So you would consider yourself a great scientist and your ego as such will make you indulge in even harder scientific problems, it will give you the courage to undertake even bigger and more complex projects, and write books explaining your theories to the simple mortals. But then a theory comes along which flips over the scientific table and starts to gain massive support from the scientific community. This theory completely invalidates your 25 years worth of work. If you are like most people, you will refuse to admit that this new theory has any roots in truth, despite the concrete evidence against you. Now, you would say, I am not such a person and I will face all the evidence. Remember the last time you spent 2,5 hours working on your presentation when your computer crashed and you had to start over again? How annoying was it? Now, imagine 25 years worth of work going in the bin. That’s a huge blow to the ego which few people can take.

We have seen this scenario play out many times.

The right question to ask is: How do we change our ego so it can serve us?

Well, we start by questioning our intentions. We have to think about whether or not we disapprove because of a lack of evidence to support this new theory (concept/person/experience) or we simply refuse it because it might in some way threaten our validity.

If we realise we have been doing it for the wrong reasons but the feeling is still inside of us, the next step is to lean further into our fear. We let go of our fear to control the result and we do the opposite of what our fear tells us. If we are the stated scientist, we will publicly acknowledge that we might have been wrong all this time. This may result in a few blowback – tweets or yellow press articles written about you, but in fair fact, it will probably not last more than a few days.

Once the drama is over and you realise that the ghost you feared was just a midget with two broomsticks (I’ve stolen this metaphor, but it’s a pretty damn good one), you start working on the new theory, drawing on the experience you gained from your previous work and collaborating with other great minds. Before you know it, you’ve figured some other big shit out and you’re there with the Queen again, receiving your honours and building your ego again…

As I said, the ego comes with a twist or two.

all photos by @deeper.dimension

To sum it up

A wise western philosopher once said:
‘You’d better check yourself before you wreck yourself’, and he was right.

Keep your ego in check, don’t let it sway you and live a goddamn epic life, in contrast to an average or below. It is always a choice which we simply cannot put on others, no matter how tempted we are to do so.

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