It seems every day we get mixed messages. They happen less in conversations because we can always ask for clarification. The written word, however, is rife with opportunities for ambiguity and confusion. One misplaced comma, colon, or quotation, mark can add uncertainty to an already puzzling sentence.
Even the most acute intellects occasionally breach the threshold of misunderstanding. It is rarely done on purpose or with malice but when it happens, it creates frustration and annoyance. It is particularly annoying when the mix-up costs time and additional effort when a few added words could have cleared up original objectives.
Clarity is not just the goal of a writer. Everyone desires to understand and be understood. There are no benefits when one aims to be precise, detailed, or accurate and the complete opposite occurs. Is it possible one of the greatest causes of confusion is something many people unfortunately and willingly overlook?
One of the most frequent as well as overlooked sources for mixed messages is never far from our reach or sight. This source innocently sows confusion to deceive us from ever looking at the cause of these perplexities. It disguises itself while assuring and convincing us none of it was our fault. That source is a simple, one-word explanation leading to a string of complicated and varied answers and discussion points, and that word is ego.
The subject of the ego is far too multifaceted and complex for one article. Even Sigmund Freud, who coined the term in 1910, amended his original definition, expanding what he finally understood that word to encompass. For this post, ego will refer to your conscious mind; what you identify as yourself. While it is important for us all to have some sense of “self,” it is similarly critical to possess the optimal amount.
Perhaps the first question racing through your mind is exactly how much is needed. It is a fair question to ask with another vastly broad answer containing a moving target. As in all things regarding personal development, it is our individual task to seek what is best for us. Additionally, the proper amount of ego will change as we grow in maturity and self-awareness. Generally, the less ego needed while still maintaining healthy confidence and self-esteem, will enhance and enrich your life.
How did our egos become so fragile and difficult to manage? Our early ancestors spent their entire lives struggling to survive. There were no stores to purchase food, clothing, and simple necessities. The only way to exist was to figure out how to do everything themselves. With every waking moment focused on survival, it is easy to understand why a healthy sense of self was never truly necessary. However, this trend would soon change, and not-so-mankind began altering its outlook through fear and a show of power.
Civilizations created castes, classes, and other systems which fueled segregation, rewarded enslavement, and applauded ideas of discrimination and inequities. Indeed, many past human experiences have been diametrically opposed to what we think of as constructive emotional development. If anything has been engrained into our DNA, a lot has been in direct conflict with what we may consider a healthy ego.
In today’s world, we find ourselves emulating those whom we envy and praising those with power, stature, or good looks. We align with an ideology just because we admire the person professing it. We condemn those who differ from us in thinking, culture, and appearances. This is nothing new. It is perpetuating a sense of “self’ which has been passed down for over 7,000 generations.
Although the previous paragraphs may have painted a bleak picture of humanity, that does not specifically spell doom for our world. What was left out were all the struggles, accomplishments, and victories which prevailed against those seemingly natural inclinations.
We have the ability to fight against our spiteful predispositions and become victorious over our imperfections. The natural instinct for humankind is to advance but once again, the word advance can alter our ego in productive or conversely, severely self-centered ways. The struggle is not only to become better but to benefit the society at large. If it were only to better ourselves, this world would become a place of ruthless deceit, mistrust, and chaos.
It is why we all struggle in different ways with our egos. How much is too much or too little? Must everything I do include some benefit to me? How do I keep myself from being taken advantage of? These are the questions we ought to be asking and perhaps, never stop. The more we grow in confidence and self-esteem, the less concern we have about our ego.
It is a delicate balance always growing and evolving. For those who understand this concept, it is demonstrated in their behaviors. Those who are unaware likewise display it in their conceited temperament and deceitful character. Not paying attention to having a healthy ego is much easier to detect precisely because of their demonstrative and narcissistic deeds.
Since this is our own individual battle, there is no one remedy we all can embrace. The best way to keep on your figurative toes in this fight is to continue asking questions which may sting a delicate ego. Is my focus too centered on me? Do I get upset when others get better recognition for doing the same thing I am trying to do? Am I making excuses for myself while condemning others for the same actions? It is also beneficial to discuss these questions with those whom you love and trust.
Always remember there is no single right answer for you as well because the journey constantly evolves. That is how you know when growth occurs. Improvement never leaves you on the same level. Do not be alarmed if answers dishearten you, but rather rejoice. An undiscovered problem can never be addressed.
Our egos can be fragile. Handle them with care and a willingness to constantly improve. It will lead to a thrilling and compelling journey.
If you have wondered about how to deal with your ego or any part of your personal development journey, please feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. My thanks to Ester Marie Doysabas on Unsplash for the beautiful picture and I look forward to your comments.