EGO: AN OVERVIEW

(Warning: 992 words to step on this reading. Only 5 mts. read)

What is ego?

It is the nature of a person’s attitude and expression of opinion where I, me or mine dominates.

“What I want, “what satisfies me,” or “it is mine,” all these simple assertions exhibit ego or self-interest.

Ego means ‘I.’ In fact, the Latin word for ‘I’ is ego.

‘I,’ ‘me,’ and ‘mine’ induce our thinking, motives, arguments, etc., with an egoistic penchant.

Our reactions to the outside world or others’ thinking, viewpoints, attitude, or actions get influenced and biased by ‘I,’ or the ego. It inscribes its mark on our thoughts, behaviours, reactions, and experiences.

Essentially, ego is the personal view that people form about themselves.

The personal perception can be realistic without exaggeration of own achievements and abilities while recognizing the accomplishments of others.

However, ‘I’-dominated personal views may reflect self-recognition and self-appreciation. An example is “I’m an intelligent and most knowledgeable person. Ego stops us from saying, “I’m not intelligent” or “I’m stupid.”

Ego is not our true self. It is a self-image or self-concept that we create for ourselves with a conscious mind.

When loaded with ‘I,’ ego gets visibly identified as an impulse to promote self-admiration or praise. An opinion about one’s features and importance gets distinguished by the person’s amplified vision of self and self-importance. Misconception about the self evolves, and that blocks critical reaction.

In this situation, ego dominates the mental space; one becomes a narcissist. And the individual seeks the external endorsement of acknowledgement, appreciation, or applause.

The creation of self-image gives identity to a person. But when the self-portrait drifts beyond its true character, it generates self-esteem. The expression we often hear is ‘big ego.’

Conceit is synonymous with a big ego, meaning an excessively favourable opinion of one’s ability, importance, intelligence, etc.

The term egomaniac refers to exaggerated self-portrait.

Another term is egotist, where people excessively talk about their intellectual, academic, astute, or wealth superiority and want everybody to accept it.

Establishing a reasonable identity of self is the basic expectation of ego. But when one goes beyond that, the person becomes a victim of egotist personality traits.

In this psychological behaviour, the ego earns its nasty ranking. It generates a delusion of greatness that includes overestimating intellect, fame, affluence, etc.

EGO DEVELOPS EARLY IN LIFE

The ego is a crucial part of personality development that begins in early childhood. In a baby’s little world, a sense of importance lies with the omnipotent feeling.

Societal norms adjust egocentric behaviour with gradual reconciliation to more realistic views of the self during growing up. Moving towards the ideal self is a natural experience for most people.

For some, the head gets more swollen with self-esteem because of an inferiority complex from the standards set by society. Or the individual becomes the self-spokesperson as nobody does the job to publicize a sense of achievement that the community otherwise refuses to recognize. Moreover, it is the inability to assume or understand any other viewpoint accurately besides one’s own.

Egotism, egotist, egotistical or egocentric carries the same explanation of egomaniac people. They display excessive, bragging, boastful, self-worshipping, narcissist and self-centred signs with no regard or interest in the successes or achievements of others.

Who are the victims of this behavioural oddity?

The egoistic mannerism lies in all classes, including intellectuals, intelligent and informed academics, writers and poets, celebrities and luminaries, priests, preachers, and politicians, limiting the poor from the middle to the upper class.

A self-centred person gets easily identified when the individual indulges in self-publicity.

Dominating their space on social media, egoistic folks display their handsome looks, attractive physical features, or stylish outfits through an intensive presentation of self photos in diverse poses. The exhibit gets supplemented with bragging and boasting of every trivial achievement.

AN EXPOSITION OF EGO CORRUPTS THE HUMAN MIND

When an exposition of ego develops, it creates the right prescription to corrupt human behaviour and narrows its field of vision. Moreover, our values are compromised.

In Sikhism, egoistic mentality gets censured.

It is one of the five denounced evils. ‘Ahankar’ is the word in Punjabi meaning ego. The other evils are ‘kam‘ (lust), ‘krodh’ (anger), ‘lobh’ (greed), and ‘moh’ (attachment).

“When there is ego, there is no God; when there is God, there is no ego!”: Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

Sikhism applies ‘nimrata,’ meaning humility, to ward off the ego.

Nimrata develops through ‘Sewa (service) by volunteers in the Sikh tradition of langar, communal eating in a Gurudwara.

Nimrata befalls those who partake the food while sitting on the langar hall floor and sharing the meal with others irrespective of caste, social or economic status.

IMPACT OF EGO

Does the ego of one person impact the entire community of people?

Not really. Society is not much touched or troubled though it might feel a bit turned off from an egoist. The damage is at the personal level.

The significant impairment, however, develops when political leadership gets corrupted with egotistical behaviour. That happens all over the world, from the most democratic nations to the dictatorial regimes.

Egotistical mindset attitudes of governing leaders steer the policies, programs, campaigns, attacks, and invasions in most parts of the globe, while nationalism and patriotism shift towards misleading directions to align with the egotist temperament of ruling heads.

History is the witness where egos of the kings, dictators, autocrats, elected presidents and prime ministers caused innumerable tragedies worldwide. 

Peace in the world, peace in the environment, peace for the poor get quashed just by the self-centred adamant behaviour of the egoistic rulers.

The egotistical or narcissistic behaviour of political leadership poses real challenges for peace and security in the world.  

However, when it resides in the minds of ordinary folks, egotism creates just a minor repellent feeling. For sure, when they brag, it is always a marathon delivery. But one good thing about egoists is that they don’t talk about other people!

-by Promod Puri

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