Random observations on the nature of the ego


This really will be a ramshackle affair. I haven’t time for a proper edit and if I don’t press the Publish button before time runs out it will go the way of all my other unedited posts that languish in the Drafts folder waiting for me to revisit them, but… alas… there’s always another jewel of an idea capturing my fickle attention!

from Wikipedia: “This… sense of individual existence is that part which believes it is the human being, and believes it must fight for itself in the world…. Eckhart Tolle comments that, to the extent that the ego is present in an individual, that individual is somewhat insane psychologically, in reference to the ego’s nature as compulsively hyper-active and compulsively (and pathologically) self-centered. However, since this is the norm, it goes unrecognised as the source of much that could be classified as insane behavior in everyday life.” Yes, yes, just what I was thinking!

So, as organisms who adapt to its environment, our egos adapts to its psychic environment. It’s a crazy world we live in so we end up with crazy egos: fragile, insecure, scared. And pretending to be none of these things. It’s pitiful, really.

The ego’s role is to navigate our organism through the external world, as it perceives it, which is usually nothing like how others perceive it. The nature of our culture has filled most of our minds with beliefs about our deficiencies: not pretty enough, not thin enough, not rich enough, not intelligent enough, blah blah blah. We’re always striving to be better. That’s considered a good thing.

An ego is needed as a protection from the hazards of social interaction with fellow humans, most of whom are judgmental and critical of us.

(Post interrupted by an exchange with my Dad via email) We tip-toe round others so we won’t hurt their feelings and end up putting up with a ton of shit. Yes? Sometimes kids need to tell their parents off. If that started in childhood parents would be much better behaved.

The easiest people for us to be around are the ones who don’t see through the charade of our ego. “Phew! Got away with it,” the ego says. Usually all it’s got away with is pretending to be strong when it feels weak. It wants comfort for its feelings of vulnerability but is afraid it will lose all love, respect and admiration if it admits to feeling weak, and so… it doesn’t get the comfort it craves. The ego is uber needy but terrified of appearing needy and therefore doesn’t get its needs met… it’s just one of the many vicious cycle we get ourselves caught up in.

I reckon falling in love is a lot about relief and gratitude. Not only have we – finally – found someone to take us on but – blimey – they actually think we’re wonderful! To what extent are people happy in relationships simply because their ego’s cravings for admiration are being met? Are relationships just ego-centric mutual appreciation arrangements?

And along with the rush of hormones of relief and gratitude go… fear of loss. And so we agree to all sorts of crazy schemes… like life-long monogamy… a slave arrangement if ever there is one (because it amounts to private ownership of another person’s being – not just their body, but their heart and mind too, because emotional exclusivity is also demanded).

You know I’m right. Let’s face it: what sane person agrees to monogamy? Only the lonely.

But let’s face this, too: none of us is sane. Rather, we’re insane with feelings of inadequacy. We’re drowning in beliefs about our own degradation and perceive love objects as our saviours.

It’s easy to be agreeable about monogamy when you believe no one else wants you anyway. And it’s understandable to be insistent on it when you fear you might lose your partner to someone sexier. And because our culture has made us believe that monogamy is normal and natural, we are given carte blanche to indulge our despair and humiliation with justifiable fury. “The bitch. The bastard. S/he deserves to be made homeless. S/he deserves to be wiped out financially. S/he deserves to be separated from the kids.” And all because something very normal and natural occurred: they encountered a fellow human who inspired within them their hard-wired impulse for connection. But in the context of exclusive relationships, love and desire become something wicked.

Something else few are willing to admit: love is in no way unconditional. No way Jose. Love is accompanied by Expectations of Acceptable Behaviour. These are conditions, folks. You impose it on your children. You impose it on your partners. You feel justified in rewarding compliers and punishing transgressors. And you endeavour to earn the love you receive by being on your Best Behaviour.


It’s simple: the ego needs the approve of others to allay its fears of worthlessness (temporarily… the ego’s need for approval is insatiable).

And rejection by the beloved is… HELL. A confirmation of our worthlessness. Our egos simply cannot bear the thwarting of the desires of its desirous attachments (a Buddhist phrase… look it up… you’ll recognise it… I guarantee it!). Love found is the highest high, love lost is the lowest low. No wonder we’re in a crazy tiz trying to ‘find’ love and trying to keep it once we’ve ‘found’ it. (Buddhism – though flawed, to my mind – offers a solution to this bothersome attitude about the nature of love.)

Ironically, there’s a song now playing in the cafe: “My salvation lies in your love” the dude’s singing… and that’s how it is, innit?… that’s what we’re taught to believe… on our own we’re nothing, worthless, damned… we need someone to save us from the hell of our loneliness, to treat us like we’re wonderful, to put us on a pedestal.

Ha Ha! Followed by Duran Duran… Girls on Film…  a song about pornography! An apt expression of the double standards of our culture.


You can tell a person’s age when they use words like ‘correctamundo’.

We crave worship because our culture has set our egos up to feel despicable. The only problem with being on a pedestal is… not falling off… so we need to prove our worthiness of such an exalted position… to be worthy of the others’ faith in us… but we feel worthless… eeek!… so let the pretense of being wonderful begin… and we keep up the balancing act… on and on until eventually we’re too exhausted by it to care anymore… we slip and do something ‘wrong’… our true colours peep out… maybe we’ll be forgiven, though… phew!… got away with it!… Eventually, all but one ‘love’ is lost… and even then, death separates.

Is a successful long-term relationship simply about keeping the hamster wheel of good behaviour going?

Have I mentioned vicious cycles yet?

Oh come on, folks. Can we stop the nonsense yet? Personally, I’m nearing the end of my tether with my patience with it all, though I’ll admit to not being evolved enough to be as free as I would like to be – the deeply embedded habit of self-repression is hard to break.

(image:©Isabel Castaño, www.isabelcastano.com, www.saibel.deviantart.com)


One thought on “Random observations on the nature of the ego

  1. Pingback: The Devil’s work | Salon du Cyber Muse

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