Ego

Sometimes I read or hear a piece of information or even “wisdom” and it just sticks. It makes sense and it’s the right thing I need to hear at the right time.

A year or two ago I read an idea that hit home. Maybe it’s relatively common knowledge at least among “evolved” types, but here it is. When someone does something we consider against us, wrongs us in some way, and we then say to ourselves or others negative things about that person – that we didn’t previously believe or say – it is an attempt to “right” our ego, to bring our self-esteem back up after it’s taken a hit.

Sure, I know it’s common if somebody hurts us to want to hurt them back, if only by talking smack about them, to ourselves or others. For an example: Bob says you’re stupid to have bought that car. You say or think, “Oh yeah, well Bob is the stupid one! He doesn’t know anything about cars. Have you seen that junker he bought?!” And thus harmony is restored in our little ego universe – which is not a way I would have thought about this in the past. I would have felt justified in being critical.

I see it now though. When someone has hurt me, in my mind usually my first response is to have negative feelings about the person; I lose my objectivity. People do this all the time I know. But there are times now I can pull myself up short and say “You’re just trying to salvage your ego. Are the things you’re now thinking about this other person really true? Were they true yesterday? Will they be true next week? Or is this a momentary knee-jerk attempt to repair your ego?” And it works! That’s my surprise. I can stop myself and separate out my bruised ego from what I really believe/know to be true, whether it’s about the other person or about me.

The fact is our egos DO take hits and maybe we just have to feel hurt awhile and not automatically man our internal battle ships. Because this way of “righting” egos is false; thinking bad sh*t about somebody else doesn’t really affect how we see ourselves. It’s a cheap bandage.

8 thoughts on “Ego

  1. vanbytheriver

    Of course, it makes perfect sense. It is so helpful to recognize this before one reacts. I tend to go quiet after a verbal attack. Lesson from childhood ? I wait, hurt, think it through, usually avoid that person. If the relationship is important, I seek to reconcile. Otherwise….peace out ! Very interesting, Colette.

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    1. writerinsoul Post author

      I had a situation earlier in the year where somebody I’d previously had decent-enough interactions with said something ugly about me on social media. I had a chance then to put this into effect. Had I previously thought ill of the person? Should I now? Would I do it to make myself feel better (i.e., salvage my ego)? Should I counter-attack or, as you say, go quiet? I stayed quiet until the right moment presented itself and then chose my words – privately – with care. I realized I’d only (want to) knock them down if I felt unsure about myself/position. I realized I wasn’t unsure about myself. I don’t need to be so reactive (if only internally). Thanks for commenting and letting me write this back!

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  2. Jim Link

    Colette, you are using Big Mind or Large Mind (capacious non-dualistic mind) instead of Small Mind ( our petty egoistic mind), according to meditation gurus and mystics of every stripe – Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, etc. There’s no real “I”, (ego) to react uncharitably to any situation.

    Congratulations! I hope I will some day inculcate this wonderful practice!

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    1. writerinsoul Post author

      Hey Jim, I’m familiar with these ideas/thinkers too (if a bit rusty – my undergrad major was self-designed with a core in Philosophy). I was never attracted to egolessness as a goal and I’m still not. Accuracy is more my religion: Trying to see things as they are. Sometimes – via my philosophy – the other guy/gal really IS a jerk and I’m going to act accordingly.

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