The ego is not the enemy is often portrayed to be.
Defined as a person’s sense of self-esteem, the ego has become a sort of villain in the personal development community, mostly by Ryan Holiday trying to sensationalize a rather complicated and often nuanced philosophy called stoicism.
Your ego is not your enemy. Your ego is not an excuse for being obnoxious, arrogant, or self-centered.
“Most of the challenges that we have in our personal lives come from a short-term focus”
The Stanford marshmallow experiment was a series of studies conducted by psychologist Walter Mischel in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In these studies, a child had to choose between receiving a small reward immediately or two small rewards if they waited for a short period, during which the tester left the room and then returned.
“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” — Carl Rogers
Every night is a dark night of the soul; fear and loathing overwhelm you whenever you stare in a mirror or think about your actions. You fail at everything you do. You struggle with low self-esteem, high-functioning depression, and social anxiety.
How do you change that?
Because you’re not going to change by spending all the time wishing you didn’t feel like that; you’re not going to change by writing down a bunch of positive affirmations and reading them aloud in front of the mirror every morning.
The paradox of changing oneself is that the more you want to change a negative trait you have, the more you become it.
When it comes to getting what we want, desire is an important element. Set a goal, go all in, and achieve it. The beach body, the business, or the book you want to write, all require that you genuinely want to do them.
But when it comes to changing the inner reality of who we are, it doesn’t work that way.
“the free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it — basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.” ― Charles Bukowski
Even as a child, Muhammad Ali took great pleasure in being different than the rest of his peers. He did so not because he was a rebel without a cause, but he certainly did it for the applause.
His defiance of the rules became most apparent when he began to train as a boxer. He refused to fight in the usual way, instead developing a style that would compliment his speed and agility. It was frustrating to try to punch Ali, as he kept dancing around the ring.
A few years later, he’d both irritate and confuse his opponents with his bold statements. After all, what could a fellow boxer expect from a man who claimed he was so fast that he could turn off the light switch in his room and be in bed before the room would be covered in darkness?
As children, we are often taught by our teachers and elders that there’s a certain way of doing things. There are rules and laws and norms that must be obeyed, unless we want to be ridiculed or even marginalized by others.
What we aren’t told, however, is the fact that a strong sense of self is the by-product of doing things our own way, the side-effect of ignoring the rules and venturing within ourselves for our own definitions of who we are and what we’re capable of.
The price of conformity is often a life of predictable boredom.
The price of independence is a life of introspection, constant struggle, and backbreaking work towards self-growth.
“It wasn’t only wickedness and scheming that made people unhappy, it was confusion and misunderstanding; above all, it was the failure to grasp the simple truth that other people are as real as you.” –Ian McEwan
They say the biggest distance between two people is misunderstanding. It creates this gap between people. Or is it a wall? And it’s frustrating, isn’t it? It does make you feel as if you’re alone, the only one who thinks and says and acts in a certain way.
And by feeling so don’t we diminish others as well? Don’t we fail to understand that even though they are different, they’re still inherently the same as us? And they deserve to be treated the same way we’d like to be treated.
I don’t know, it’s a difficult question to answer.
But could you hate someone if you knew why they do what they do? If you could truly understand them? Their thoughts? Their feelings? Know their past? Their struggles? What they want? What they have lost?