Awhile back, Michele Martin wrote a wonderful post: Ego-Blogging, where she reflected on the contrasts between blogging for her ego or for us. Since then, I've been utilizing that distinction in other contexts. This post is a summary of my recent reflections about the limitations of ego tripping and the value of ego shrinking.
Our egos chase after rainbows in search of pots of gold that never satisfy us. This trait has been psychoanalyzed as neurosis or symbolic gratification. We get seduced by the package and dismayed by the real experience inside. This is a reason why we fall for useless educational experiences, the accumulation of countless friends in networking sites and the acquiring of so many things we almost never use. When we shrink our frantic egos and listen to our serene feelings, we find what we're looking for and get satisfied with those finds.
Our egos have high associational barriers. When we're ego-tripping, "it cannot be both", "there's no two ways about it" and "there's one right answer". We're devoted to expertise, objectivity and clear definitions. With shrunken egos, mash-ups work for us. It takes both to make up a winning combination. We free to flow with unstructured, evolving, and chaotic happenstance. We take things as they come and see ways to use what shows up.
Our egos maintain a sense of identity. When we're ego-tripping, we are constantly threatened by people: making us wrong, puncturing our pride, tarnishing our brand or disagreeing with our self-righteous stance. When we shrink our egos, we find a sense of balance, timing and compassion within us. We become clear of fear as our identity is up for grabs and changing from day to day. We cannot be made wrong because we feel like a work in progress. We give up on pride to see others eye-to-eye, in the same boat, and on the same team.
Our egos are devoted to making things happen. On an ego trip, we're pushing the river, opposing natural processes, taking control of situations and insisting on delivering product. With egos shrunk to an appropriate size, we naturally trust the process and allow for emergent outcomes. We see ways to bring about what cannot be forced and accommodate what needs space to realize it's potential.
Switching from ego tripping to ego shrinking occurs naturally as we discover:
- what really satisfies us
- what works when interacting with the rest of us
- what happens when we identify with all of us