Understand: Your ego is not your enemy. It’s more like a clumsy anchor with too many feelings attached to it. It’s like a whiny, woe-is-me mass of sentimentality constantly tripping over itself in front of you. If you are the horse, then Ego is the cart that you keep ramming into wondering why you can’t get anywhere.
Still, it’s not the enemy. It’s one of the most vital aspects of yourself. The problem is that you are probably its bitch, instead of the other way around. You are your ego’s tool, and it leverages you against yourself all the damn time. It slaps you around, and you allow it to. Hell, you probably welcome it. This is because you believe (rather than think) that it knows what you want. It doesn’t. It’s nothing, more or less, than your sense of self-esteem or self-importance. It doesn’t know what you want. It only knows how to keep you safe, comfortable, and secure. It only understands self-preservation.
So the secret to turning the tables on your insecure, uninitiated, tiny ego is to practice self-improvement rather than self-importance. Self-importance leads to impotence. Self-improvement leads to liberation, self-empowerment, and the rise of an initiated, self-actualized ego that’s ready to take on all comers and prepared to perpetually overcome itself.
Practice getting out of your own way:
“Be melting snow. Wash yourself of yourself.” ~Rumi
Step one in turning the tables on your ego: get over yourself. Understand that you are a fallible, imperfect, prone to mistakes naked-ape fumbling through the toddler-phase of its species’ evolution. You are a tiny speck of dust in an unfathomably enormous universe that will exist none-seconds compared to the ancient eternity of the cosmos.
That should humble you. But your ego probably won’t allow it to. It’s too damn scary. Too mortal. Too real. So your ego is probably spoon-feeding you a healthy dose of cognitive dissonance to prevent it from getting overwhelmed. Hence the vital importance of practicing getting out of your own way.
Humility is a cornerstone of self-improvement. Humility is the searing pain of seeing the light upon exiting Plato’s Cave. It’s collapsing in a pile of existential angst in the Desert of the Real after transcending the Matrix. Humility is the ultimate psychological leveling mechanism. It puts the ego in check so that you can finally be authentic with yourself.
The beauty of practicing getting out of your own way (and thus making your ego your bitch) is that eventually your ego gets used to driving in the back seat. It starts to learn how not to take itself so seriously. It begins to see how everything is connected to everything else. It becomes a vital tool in your arsenal, used to flexibly leverage reality into an understandable construct. In short: it becomes interdependent rather than codependent.
We practice getting out of our own way so that we are humble enough to realize that we’re, paraphrasing Palahniuk, the same decaying organic matter as everything else, but that we’re also unique and fragile snowflakes. And the only way to become more than just a unique and fragile snowflake is to make self-improvement primary to self-preservation. We must sow a little painful humility if we are to reap the rewards of self-empowerment.
Stop acting like the world owes you something:
“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.” ~Soren Kierkegaard
Here’s the thing: You don’t deserve a damn thing. Someone told you that at some point during your fragile development and your ego has used it as a prop ever since. Nobody deserves anything.
You don’t deserve love. You don’t deserve to be happy. You don’t deserve a job. Hell, you could even earn those things through your own blood, sweat, and tears, and you would still not “deserve” it. Why? Because the world simply doesn’t work that way. There are probabilities involved. There’s the luck factor. There’s vicissitude and unexpected change to contend with. And the mother of them all: you simply cannot control other people, unless you become a tyrant.