Ego is to the true self what a flashlight is to a spotlight. John Bradshaw
Every man must have an ego, for it is the ego that provides the spark to ignite ones potential. It is therefore natural that as we progress in life, we measure our progress in terms of achievements, successes, use the monetary barometer and the material possessions to satisfy our ego that we are someone. In this pursuit, other yardsticks more difficult to quantify but vital for an ideal life, like good health, family bonding, being a socially aware person etc. are put on the backburner. This naturally makes our self understanding rather lopsided and skewed, leading to very distorted view about our own self. We then see ourselves as spotlights focusing the light on ourselves, whereas the world at large sees us as flashlights that light up the way for sometime in the dark.
To understand our own limitations and inflated ego, simply stand in front of a full length mirror and try to appreciate yourself from head to toe. Now pick out your physical strengths and then focus on areas of improvement on your own physique. Notice how you rationalize the areas of improvement since you are not ready to either accept it easily nor work towards changing it. It could be being overweight, having a bad posture, poor grooming or simply a negative disposition. The ego is at work overtime to help you see virtue in your weakness. E.g. Some people brush aside their bulging belly as a sign of prosperity or justify their dressing sense as being cool.
In reality any measure of success we achieve is an ego booster and that is perfectly fine. The trouble starts when we start multiplying our success instead of merely adding them up. The multiplier effect is as potent as putting aviation fuel in our car for while there may be a brief spurt in the speed of the car, the engine would simply burn out even before we have begun to enjoy the ride. An inflated ego blinds us to reality, we court danger with alacrity and our morals and conscience often take a back seat. The fall of the once high and mighty, their condemnation to ignominy and obscurity should serve as a warning lest we fall prey to the same illness that plagued them. We need to watch out, before the very ego that sparks our potential turns into a raging fire that consumes us.
Remember: “Ego has a voracious appetite, the more you feed it, the hungrier it gets.” Nathaniel Bronner Jr.
- If and when you get a chance, do visit a show or exhibition where you can look at the distorting mirrors. It will be both enjoyable and illuminating. While enjoying the varied looks that the images on the mirror reflect pause and think about how your ego maybe distorting your image in the eyes of others. E.g. Whilst you might think of yourself as an open person, your colleagues might view you as a proud, self opinionated person.
- Do read the post on Exaggerated Grandiose Opinion dated 16th March 2010 in our weekly blog www.poweract.blogspot.com
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