Those parts of yourself that you show to the outside world, those parts that make up “the mask” you wear that’s your ego. It is the driver of your greatest desires, fears, and insecurities. It’s all about “me” and “I” and how do I get what I want and what about me. The ego is NOT your true self. It simply the role you play in society to survive the brutal games we play. It pursues power and approval, as its dominant purpose is it to protect the self at any cost.
If left to its own devices, the ego can quickly wreak havoc on everything you work hard to build. Your relationships, your view of yourself, your daily habits, your work, your environment–All up for demolition when the ego is in charge.
Of all the lies your ego will tell you throughout your lifetime, a few of the most profound that I see reoccur in therapy over and over include:
1. You Are Not Enough and Everyone Else is Better Than You
This is at the core of nearly every self-destructive behavior and ego-driven thought. So many of us are silently suffering with self-worth shortages. We receive messages from society (doesn’t this really just mean social media nowadays?) and repeated experiences that teach us that our worth is conditional and determined by our success, our image, our bank accounts, the labels in our closets, etc.
So when our ego is unchecked, it will endlessly compare ourselves to others. What does she have that I don’t? Why did he get that and I didn’t? How is theirs better than mine? If the ego is out to protect you and your self-esteem is wavering, you will likely find yourself putting others down so that you can falsely build the idea that you are better than everyone else. This is the ego’s response to your insecurities. It cannot handle the feeling of unworthiness, so it reacts with the opposite mentality. Enter: all the narcissists you know.
2. The World is Against You
The world can be a scary place. True.
Much of life is uncertain. True.
These can both be true, and STILL, you can create a beautiful existence for yourself.
Those with unhealthy egos are unwilling to look at their own actions or take responsibility. They refuse to examine how their behaviors and attitudes create their circumstances. They attribute every “bad” thing that “happens” to them as the result of everyone being against them. Everyone becomes an enemy.
To combat this, be willing to deeply dissect what you give to the world. Take a look at the energy you walk around with and how you treat others.
3. Power is the Ultimate Goal
Remember, the primary role of the ego is to protect you. Therefore, it will always seek out power as a weapon against potential harm or pain. This is how your ego thinks: “the more power I have, the more I can avoid being hurt, embarrassed, or belittled.” It believes that power is the antidote for pain and suffering. If you have power, you then have the ability to control others and situations, allowing you to create a world that favors you.
But there are a few issues the ego has forgotten to take into account:
- Everyone has free will
- No one enjoys being controlled
- People recognize your intentions
So, if you choose power to be your guide through the world, be aware that it will be a lonely journey. Most people won’t stick around given the 3 aforementioned points.
Written by: Aubrey Koel, LPC