The ego is loosely defined by the dictionary as “a person’s sense of self esteem and self-importance.” In respect to Psychoanalysis, it is defined as “the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.”
These are very interesting but it shows that it really has to do with self-image; the idea we hold of ourselves to us and what we project to the world.
Understanding that it’s You (Ego) VS You (Authenticity).
The challenge with life is that it mostly has to do with our reactions or responses to it. What hurts us about most things is our perceptions regarding what we experience in life. The experiences are just what they are but we make it worse with our own expectations regarding what we wanted that we miss the experience. I’ve seen this in my own life regarding my journey especially over the last decade with all that I’ve achieved in such a short space of time. Yes it is remarkable what I’ve managed to achieve but it came at a high price with sacrifices and stress along the way. Ryan Holiday’s book was written because of this, he also achieved shocking success early and wrote the book “Ego is the enemy” and accounts for all the times his ego came into the picture to propel yet devastate parts of his journey.
My journey has definitely not been easy. People marvel at the achievements and I think we also make it a point to only project the good parts of us when in actuality, there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes. People don’t know that over the last decade I have been scared and sometimes anxious about where my life was going. The thing with risk and taking a chance on yourself and your dreams, is that it has a light to it as well as darkness. It is the darkness that people don’t talk about. You have your authentic self that wants nothing else but for you to be more of you and you have your ego that is an image that you hold of yourself relative to your environment that is looking to do all that it does to protect you.
The ego says: “Let’s achieve more,” while your authentic self cares only for you to express yourself and creates a little frustration in you when you betray yourself.
For this reason I wanted to make sure I wrote a few points to keep in mind, that I wish I had when I started on my journey to better help me manage what I experienced and STILL sometimes experience today.
The You vs You battle is a constant one. You might not understand all points yet, but wisdom sometimes needs time to come alive in us.
1. Dealing with frustration - Stress management
We all want things to go our way and when they don’t we tend to get easily frustrated and that frustration is what comes with the journey. I don’t know why this is so but it’s amazing how dangerous stress can be to your health and your overall well being. Some people deal better with it while others live with constant anxiety as a medical condition.
The real truth is to really accept that we are NOT in control. There are times when I didn’t know how things were going to work out and stressing about it made it worse but I’ve learnt you have to have something constructive in your life that disengages you from thinking about the stress. While you’re doing this constructive other thing, you aren’t thinking about the thing that stresses you and this gives your mind time to gain some perspective on the issue for clarity. For me it is exercise or taking long walks. Without these elements I'd be in a constant loop of stress.
Stress is a real thing to be aware of. High positions come with stress, in fact you are promoted in life to your ability to handle and manage conflict and stress. Be careful what you wish for.
2. Result VS Process
Your ego will always care about the results you are getting and judge them based on how they appear and make us feel whereas your authentic self cares more about the process because it already knows the bigger picture that is made up of everything you experience.
You have to understand that there is a higher plan at work that you somehow have to believe is working in the background while you’re working. Do not be so focused on results and only results. I made this mistake too and maybe I had to do this but, there is more to life than just achieving.
To further add on to point 2, I wanted to say that your current results that define your circumstances are not as important as the current trajectory you are on. A Lot of the time we are so focused on wanting things to change and to change quickly that we fail to realize that we’ve put actions in motion to make the changes we want.
If you want result X, you don’t get result X by focusing on the fact that you don’t have result X. You have to focus on process X knowing that it has put things in motion to achieve result X.
Building on point 2 and 3 is the concept of patience. This is the one that is most difficult to come to terms with until later on when you have the momentum around you that allows your life to have more levers to attract results from. In the beginning you’re doing all that you can to get the momentum going and having to be patient is something our egos were not trained to accept. I don’t know how many times deals, plans and objectives fell through and I had to pick myself up. In hindsight I accept that if I had gotten everything I wanted when I wanted it, I would’ve gone down a very different path to the one I’m that is more suited to me.
No tree springs instantly from the seed and so patience is something you HAVE to keep in mind on the journey.
5. Change is constant
The ego wants things to remain a certain way and panics when there are changes, especially the ones that are inconvenient for its agenda. Your authentic self understands this and knows that this is important for where you’re going but what I’ve had to accept is that change is sometimes enjoyable and sometimes not.
Law 48 from the 48 laws of Power says to “Assume formlessness” - Accepting no form whatsoever and being whatever the moment requires you to be. There’s an art to this but the wisdom holds true.
One thing I haven’t incorporated a lot of in my life has been the concept of having a healthy balance between work and play and I think this largely had to do with me investing most of my finances into everything I’ve been building. The finances to play will not be there initially because you’re making sacrifices but this is something you must want to correct when things change financially.
It is very easy to become all work and think that that is normal.
7. The money issue
Your authentic self cares very little about money problems you may face because it wants what it wants - for you to be fulfilled. This is where your ego is a necessary thing that reminds you because regardless of how awesome your purpose is, you still have bills to pay and this is something that is very important to keep in mind. You don’t have to make money from your purpose and so it is important that you have/create things that can help you manage the financial commitments of your life.
A Lot of stress comes from this too. Also remember that your wealth comes from taking your authentic self, building it up and being able to be a necessary plug to a hold society is desperately trying to fill.
8. Being present - Enjoying the moment
The ego wants you to achieve, let people know, let them praise you for it and then once that is done, you’re off to the next thing. There is a big difference between impressing others and being impressive. Being impressive is always for you whereas impressing others has to do with doing things for the applause of other people. This I saw in my life when I started to get some press. The press does very little for you, yet the ego still gets off on it.
Social media hasn’t made this any easier but it is important to know why you’re doing what you’re doing. Allow yourself to take more of life in, know what matters to you and add energy to those things. Enjoy your journey and its unfoldment, again this is easier to do when you have momentum on your side than in the early stages.
9. Trusting the process
The final point I had to make was for you to trust the process. Life is understood backward but has to be lived forward. You have to have faith in the things you’re doing and the fact that the road eventually makes sense as you go especially when it hurts.
The image below portrays this:
My life is only starting to make sense to me now and it takes time because you’re constantly battling with what you want things to look like VS what they are or becoming. Things do take time but it really is about managing yourself and your ego that helps you get through.
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