The Ego’s determination to overcome whatever Nature throws in its way certainly has great survival value, but anything this powerful can cause problems when it becomes focused in the wrong direction, namely… back at yourself!
Here’s the dictionary definition of this mysterious beast: “The personality component that is conscious, directly controls behavior, and is most in touch with external reality”. While true, this simplified description fails to capture the complex issues that can arise when one’s ego gets in the way of his own existence. Discord creates frustrations that lead to anger and rage, feelings that can be turned inward on oneself in the form of self-destructive behaviors or directed outward in a way that attempts to harm others. Either way it’s a bad deal that can completely dis-empower your social relationships, to say the least!
The exceptional sensitivity of any ones ego is something that’s especially misunderstood. A chronically frustrated ego is like a tender open wound that can be painfully jolted with even the slightest negative comment. An ego turned inward to the point of extreme self-preoccupation is what John Bradshaw calls the Disabled Will. Protecting such a sensitive ego from continuing harm soon becomes a higher priority than seeking rich life experiences. This condition sets the table for all manner of thought distortions like mind-reading, global stereotyping, defensiveness, jealousy and the like. But the real trouble begins when, in their ego-bloated grandiosity, people start taking even the slightest criticism or rebuff too personally. Locked in a perpetual fear-state, their ego becomes arrogant and over-reactive.
People with hyper-sensitive egos have a tendency to turn the act of meeting others into a life-or-death issue for themselves, and this kind of intense pressure to “never be disliked” can become a destructive mental burden. Sometimes this problem can be traced back to a single socially-traumatic event, but just as often it begins insidiously as a series of lesser failures to connect with people all throughout your life. It sneaks up on you until one day you realize that, well… you’ve just plain GIVEN UP trying to be social or attractive to anyone. This loss of motivation can be devastating. Soon, you don’t even consider the possibility of enjoying life any more — it’s become accepted by your unconscious mind that it’s just not in the cards for you. This is the point where you begin to slide into more self defeating behaviors which are desperate attempts to fill the void of a lonely, isolated soul.
But it doesn’t need to be this way. It’s possible to begin steering yourself back in the direction of sanity if you can just find a way to make peace with your troubled ego and stop being so hard on yourself. In simple terms, you must learn to hold yourself to normal human performance standards and not to some impossible “Super huMan” standard that no one can achieve. An elevated fear of rejection is directly tied to a disabled will, so dealing with this problem can make an enormous improvement in your emotional-thinking process and lead to a richer experience in your day to day life.
In that spirit, here’s three ideas to get you started taming your out-of-control disabled ego…
1) Get Some Perspective
It’s healthy to get some kind of perspective of where you fit in along the continuum of human existence every now and then. An ego turned inward is overly obsessed with itself, which leads to a distorted view of reality. Anyone who is too wrapped up inside his own head is usually isolated from others to some extent as well. People begin to seem like emotionally dead animations and so it’s easy to hate them all. The simplest thing to do is get out of your shell and help out — contribute to society in some way and begin to reconnect with humanity. Sign up for some volunteer work at the city mission or a nursing home. Maybe start out at the SPCA if you find it easier to deal with animals rather than people (because you’re too judgmental), but do something with people eventually because the idea is to pull yourself up out of isolation remember.
Hell, you may even meet some fine people doing this! You’ve got to get out there and mix after all, and people are drawn to people professions. You’ll meet more of them in places like this than you will working down at the garage with the other miserable grease monkeys, that’s for sure. Helping the less fortunate can produce the kind of “ego shock” experience that becomes life-altering, and it will leak through in your attitude in ways impossible to predict. So get off your self-satisfied ass and get busy experimenting with some perspective alteration. Your life is a grand experiment after all,have you forgotten?
2) Do Something You Never Tried Before
A mind expanded to new dimensions never returns to its original shape. If your thinking style sucks, it’s likely that you’re also stuck in a rut going round and round with the same old sour ideas about EVERYTHING. Often one of the major causes of self obsession is insecurity… an inward focus on your own fears that just won’t allow any other thoughts much quarter. You can’t bullshit confidence — it’s always the result of real life experiences that get sucked down into your unconscious and processed through into yourself-esteem.
The only effective way to tackle insecurity is to get right up in its grill and challenge it. Pick out something that scares the shit out of you and dive into it. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be anything to do with women or social anxiety, it can be something like getting on a plane for the first time if you’ve been scared to fly. Just pick a fear and face it down. This creates a shock to the system that will re-program your sense of what’s personally possible for you. This is how you build confidence all throughout your life, by pushing the envelope here and there wherever you can… just a little bit at a time. If it’s been a while since you last tried something new, then you’ve stopped growing. Growth creates confidence, and confidence is the foundation upon which any major upgrade in your life experience is launched, including your relationships with women.
3) Take a Deliberate Punch
Any boxer knows that there’s more to becoming a great fighter than 10 mile runs and flailing away at a speed bag for hours on end. While this stuff may be essential for maintaining the power and stamina he needs in the ring, a boxer’s training would be utterly inadequate if it didn’t include work with an actual sparring partner. That’s because a prizefighter needs more than just intense aerobic and strength training — he needs to be able to take a punch. A LOT of punches in fact!
To play in the social ring requires the same ability to become callused, but here what’s needed is a MENTAL toughness rather than a physical one. And this is where the disabled ego is particularly weak since it’s provoked by the slightest perceived put down or “dis” and is always on the defensive and ready to strike back. You become highly rejection sensitive, and this problem can get so bad that you’ll eventually become paralyzed to act in your own sexual / romantic interest.
The solution is to take a punch, not to the face but to the EGO for the express purpose of toughening it up.
Many people are afraid to get in a real fight because they have no experience at ever having been punched, even as a kid, and therefore have no idea of what their tolerance for pain is. The same thing can happen to you mentally as well if all you do is run around ducking every situation where there could be some risk to your ego. You’ll never get a sense of just how tough it could actually be. So go out and do something deliberately embarrassing or humiliating and take a nice nasty shot to your ego.
Seriously. See how painful the mental bruise really is — how long it takes you to shake it off and not give a shit anymore. I’ll bet you’ll be very surprised at the reserve of mental toughness you may discover. This exercise will teach you some HUMILITY and back you away from the god-like grandiose thinking flaws that are the common signature of the disabled ego. You’ll find that once this element of your “fear package” is dragged out into the light, it’ll burn up just as quick as a vampire in the sunlight. A point of fear will then have become a point of courage, and you’ll be on your way to better things.
Personal change is tough. You might not be able to force yourself to do all of this stuff I’m suggesting, but to the extent that you CAN you’ll find it will make a tremendous difference in how you begin to relate to the rest of the world.
Technorati Tags: external reality, self-destructive behaviors, exceptional sensitivity, chronically frustrated ego, ego-bloated grandiosity, over-reactive, hyper-sensitive egos, defeating behaviors, isolated soul, Super huMan, out-of-control disabled ego, Get Some Perspective, It’s healthy to get some kind of perspective, Do Something You Never Tried Before, tackle insecurity, social anxiety, re-program your sense, Growth creates confidence, Take a Deliberate Punch, toughening it up, Personal change is tough