If you saw me the way that I see me then you would understand who I am. A good phrase but the problem is do I see myself clearly, any clearer than you do? The truth is that I am biased and deluded about who I am. My self-image or ego may not be true or accurate.
Ego = The way that I see me
Personality = The way that you see me
This is my definition of the words ‘Ego” and “personality”. The way I see me may be different to the way that you see me. On the ‘Self Discovery Programme’ I use the example of..
“I see me as six foot six bronzed, dark and muscular, how do you see me?”
At this point they mainly all laugh because I am about five foot six, could do with a dose in the sun and have grey to white hair. Yet, we all have an inner image of ourself that includes self-esteem, persona, our beliefs in our skills and qualities that may be at odds with how others see us.
When I was playing in bands one of the guitarists, who was the meanest man on the planet, described himself as ‘generous’ and was deeply offended by the rest of us laughing until we cried. His ego, his internal image, was different to the personality, his external image that we all saw.
Once when playing in bands, it was a while ago, a man strolled onto the dance floor. He had cuban heeled boots, a white suit with a black shirt split to the waist, and a large golden medallion around his neck with a hairy chest. By his swagger and the look on his face you could tell that he thought he was pretty cool and was completely confident in himself. He did not notice the sniggers of both the band and audience as he began to strut his stuff. Outwardly he looked a prat but inwardly he felt like a sex god.
Have you ever bounced down the road, on a sunny day, feeling really good about who you are? You are relaxed, all is right with the world and the spring in your step comes from you feeling good. Suddenly you pass a shop window and see, in the reflection, that you look a mess, your hair is all over the place, makeup has run, skirt tucked into your knickers. Then comes the realisation that all those smiles that you had interpreted as smiles of shared joy at the wonder of the world were really people amused at the crazy looking you. Suddenly the inner ego image is popped and deflates and you no longer feel good and you loose that wonderful sense that, just a few minutes ago, was flooding your being.
We all have an ego, we all have an image of who we are, that may vary from the personality that others see. It could be that you see yourself as ugly while others see your good looks, as fat when others see you as well proportioned or slim, as stupid when others see you as clever and so on.
I am biased
The way that I see me is biased. It comes from the paradigm that I have built up since the moment of my birth to explain the world and how I fit in it. You only need to talk to a few people to realise that we are all biased about ourself, and many to the point of being delusional. If you sit in a room with twenty people and ask them how they experience you their perception of you is as biased as your perception of you. However, if my perception is that I am six’s foot six bronzed and muscular and they do not experience me like that then the chances are that they are right and I am wrong.
The power of feedback
On many of my courses there are feedback sessions when participants get the opportunity to see themselves through the eyes of the other people in the group. Feedback is a gift even when it feels difficult because it is as odds with my own ego image. To truly understand myself I would need to line up the entire population of the world and get them to parade pass me one at time saying…”Sean the way I experience you is…”
The balance point
When I see me the way that you see me and when I see you the way you see you then we are in balance and have let go of the bias. True communication (Common union) only comes about with a clarity of visions and understanding. Up to that point my bias will interpret your words and action to fit my ego image of myself. If I feel that I have done something wrong I will hear your words, whatever they are, as confirming that. To hear anything else requires that I make an ego shift and realise my own bias.
The Trump Effect
In Britain the word ‘Ego’ is often confused with arrogance. When we see characters like Donald Trump, who has none of the reserve of the British but, who prefers to blow his own trumpet and tell everyone just how good he is then many of us are repelled. Such behaviour is seen as bigheadedness, arrogance and being up your own …
The Ego As A Powerful Tool
If we think of the ego as a tool that enables us to do work, we can begin to see it as a powerful thing. When an engineer puts a power rating on an engine they are describing it’s ability to do work. The ego when seen in this way is a good thing it enables and energises us to do what needs to be done.
The size of an ego
Ego’s, generally, describe how I see me but what is the extent of me? Egos include possessions that may be material, might include money, certainly include power and influence and may even include other people. This can be a good or a bad thing.
Bhakti means to serve others unconditionally with no personal reward or need for ego recognition. Mother Theresa of Calcutta was a nun who looked after the poor of Calcutta. Her ego was so large that it included all the poor so that she treated them as she would herself, they were her. She was Bhakti. Her ego may well have been larger that the ego of people like Trump who are not Bhakti.
In Bhakti the person has their ego behind them as a power pack pushing them forward that allows them to complete their work for the good of themselves and also for others. These people work with great energy, power and determination.
An egotist is someone who has their ego out front and in the way, creating problems and insensitively often mindlessly hurting others. Bhaktis have sensitive emotions and empathy egotists have a lack of sensitivity and empathy. Bhakti = Mindfulness, Egotism = mindlessness.
Confidence and self-esteem
To be confident is not being big headed. To love your self and have positive self esteem is not being arrogant. To assert you own point of view is not being aggressive. To accept praise, presents and to enjoy your success is the positive expression of your ego. To boast about your success, to look down on others and to treat others as less than you is the negative side of the ego.
To have a good honest and positive ego that works well for us all is a positive thing and should be nurtured and encouraged in us all. When you can look yourself in the eyes in your bathroom mirror and tell yourself that you love you, that’s not arrogance it is positive self esteem.
Be happy and enjoy who you are.