Like it or not, your identity (the way you view yourself, others and the world around you) and your ego are unmistakably connected. We all perceive ourselves in a certain way, we adopt a narrative in our minds about the kind of people we are. This can be extremely powerful, empowering us to reach our full potential as balanced human beings. However, it can also be an anchor dragging us into the abyss of ignorance and failure.
Let’s start with some meditations on our Ego, the hero, first. Start by thinking of the most successful, happy or motivated people you know, how do you think they see themselves? We would imagine these people have a pretty healthy and balanced view of themselves, their egos are in check. Think of your ego like a hypothesis. The more you test your hypothesis against reality, the more sound your hypothesis is. Your ego has to be tested to be kept in check. It is easy to allow your self narrative to get carried away and make you believe in a self perception that is not necessarily sound or tested.
When your ego is in check, when your self narrative and your perception of yourself align, it becomes the protagonist; the hero. Intrinsic motivation becomes easier to foster when you have no self image to maintain. You know inherently what kind of person you are and you see yourself in an accurate context within the world around you.
Once you are able to maintain this healthy self view (and yes, it takes work every day), you will find a greater satisfaction in your successes, no matter how small or large. You’ll find that adopting a growth mindset is consistently easier and find yourself aimed decisively towards your goals.
Unfortunately, our ego can be the antagonist too; the villain. When we allow our self narrative to get carried away without being checked, we may adopt an inflated or inaccurate perception of ourselves. We’ve seen people like this before, those whose grand words are often not supported by actions. Those whose motivation is extrinsic; too eager to impress others because they believe that is what will reinforce their hypothesis about their perceived self perception. This is a dangerous way to foster self image.
When unchecked, the ego is a liar and a thief. It will convince you that you are better or superior, that you don’t need to test yourself. It will steal your motivation by convincing you that you’re already where you need to be. We have to slay the villain by checking our ego and testing it constantly in an objective, balanced way.
The ego as the hero and the villain is similar to the analogy of the two wolves. One wolf is positive self image, reinforced by a balanced narrative that you test against reality. The second is a negative self image, which when unchecked can spiral into unhealthy self talk, convince you of a false grandeur and ultimately lead you nowhere. The wolf that survives is the one that you decide to feed.