This theory has been a recent realisation of mine after I was reintroduced to my 5 year old self. I know this may sound strange, but psychedelic and empathic experiences have shown me the difference between the person I am at my core, and the person who is a product of my negative experiences.
Do not read on with a bias because the realisation came from thought provoking drugs. The altered state allowed me to see something that deep down everyone knows but forgets due to the current ways of living and views on life. This article will shed light on things you probably already know, but reading it with an open mind will spark thoughts that will hopefully facilitate a transition to a more self-aware and conscious version of yourself.
First off, let me explain the difference between the true-self and ego-self:
The true-self is the person you are at your core, the best version of yourself. Unbiased, open-minded, kind and innocent. Think back to when you were a child, before your thoughts were influenced by negative experiences. You had no reason to concern yourself with people’s motives when it came to your decision making.
The adult true-self is almost identical to your child self in terms of personality and beliefs, however less naïve. Even though we have been hurt in the past, we don’t apply negative experiences or biases from a previous situation to an unrelated situation. The true-self has a more genuine and logical decision making abilities because of this.
In general life, people with a sense of their true-self tend to be the happiest, open-minded, most empathetic and are not easily influenced by people. They don’t value people’s negative opinions on them because they understand they can’t please everybody and have a strong view on who they are and what makes them unique. They do not change their attitude or opinion to please people as they know the people worth spending time with appreciate them for them.
The crudest way of defining the ego-self is “the person we become after the world and its negative influences has had the time to fuck us up”. The external feedback is reason why people change to fit in, and they do so by taking their true self and modifying it to meet the criteria of society, often presented as a façade. This sense of self often causes a low sense of self-worth as it is not holding true to the individuals core values, which doesn’t allow life to be lived the right way for the true-self. The ego-self lives for other people, and the acceptance of these people and is highly concerned with everyones perception of them.
The ego-self has allowed negative experiences to change their values, beliefs and thought processes. They often hide behind their façade that changes depending on the situation they are in, and aim to please different groups a people. The ego-self seeks constant approval in every situation, as the ego needs to be reassured it is liked.
People with large egos often put others down to feel better about themselves, instead of working through their problems and discovering that comparisons between them and others is redundant.
Once aware of the difference between the true-self and ego-self, we can start to see the ego-self for the emotional prison it is, and start deconstructing it. Everyone may have their own unique journey while finding their way back to their true-self, but there are some necessary steps that need to be taken for the journey to take place.
As with anything, acknowledging the problem is the first step to recovery. I’ll use the word recovery, as it is in essence an emotional recovery, but in actual fact all we are doing is allowing ourselves to rediscover our true-self.
The next step is to remove all prejudice and biases from our mind and interpret things as if we are hearing or experiencing them for the first time. This can tricky as we have to find a balance between using, and not using our experiences in the making of our conclusions in certain scenarios. Critical thinking must also be applied as many people have uneducated opinions based on stigmas, preconceptions and find it hard to accept other points of view as it involves admitting they were wrong, which the ego-self doesn’t like.
In social situations, many people that have been negatively affected by previous experiences will put up a barrier and search for these negative patterns in a different persons behaviour. I’m not saying you must wear your heart on your sleeve, but keeping an open mind and not judging people based on previous experiences and another person’s actions is imperative when meeting new people and creating lasting friendships. Every new person you meet should start with a fresh slate, and not be tarnished by another person’s effect on you.
Image by Jerry8448
The ego-self in social situations
In the past, a couple of girls took advantage of my feelings for them. Whenever they were in a rough patch with their boyfriends, who treated them poorly, they would come to me not just for comfort, but because it made their boyfriends jealous and show some sort of emotions towards them. They boyfriends never really cared for them, except when they thought they would lose them.
Once the boyfriends expressed their jealousy, sadness and anger, I was forgotten and left feeling used. I allowed this to effect the relationship in the early stages with my ex-girlfriend by living through my ego-self. There were glimpses of my true-self which is the person she fell in love with, but whenever I thought about my previous experiences and saw similar patterns, my walls went up and there was conflict. I can confirm this was my ego-self because I was always seeking approval from, and trying to impress other people, which is a clear indication of wanting to feed the ego.
I recently had an encounter with 2 incredible people, who I had deep feelings of connection with. The kind I have only experienced a handful times in my life. I was my true-self when we met, which I think is the reason the connection was so deep. We accepted each other for who were are, and there is nothing more magical than being accepted for who you are.
But because of this strong connection, my insecurities that arose after my past experiences came in to play and I began questioning whether or not their reciprocated feelings were genuine or not. I was fortunate enough to trace these negative thoughts back to their origins which led me to the realisation that my previous negative experiences were making me question my view of these great people. This is something the ego-self loves doing; tricking the mind to make you feel worthless and making you feel like you aren’t worthy of happiness.
Deep down, I know the whole experience was genuine, and the questions I was asking to try and find a negative in the situation made it clear that there was a disconnect between my true-self and my ego-self. Learning to go with the ‘gut feeling’ instead of overthinking things is something that takes time, but trusting intuition is necessary for allowing your true-self to make decisions. This can be hard as the ego-self does everything it can to make you question if your true-self is correct.
The ego-self in everyday life
People must understand that things they read on the internet or see on the news are presented with a bias. There are many misleading or false articles that provide people with stigmas with ‘evidence’ to solidify their negative opinions about certain topics. There are many topics where this is prevalent including but not limited to anti-vaccinisation, anti-drug, pro-GMO, pro-war campaigns etc.
Many of the memes and articles have no citations or provide links to studies that yield false data that are conducted by the party in question. These studies are often contradicted by numerous other studies, however the ego-self only needs not even one person to agree with them to argue their point. The false evidence only makes their incorrect views stronger.
Keeping an open mind when seeing these memes, or reading articles is important in making correct decisions and having true opinions about these topics. If you see something, regardless of whether you believe it to be true or not, see where the information comes from. Asking questions such as “who conducted this study and what do they have to gain from the data that supports their view?”, “does this article or post feed people’s stigmas but provide no evidence”.
Next time you see something you disagree with, read the comments and see what opinions other people have on the topic. With an open mind, try and understand where their opinion comes from, and if it goes against your belief, find out why they have that opinion. If there is evidence that proves they are correct, don’t lie to yourself. Accept that their view is based on evidence, and if you can’t come up with a logical counter argument, it may be time to improve yourself by adopting a view you may have been against.
Life’s better when you’re true to yourself
I want to make it clear that living through your ego-self doesn’t make you a bad person. Everyone has at one point or another, the difference is some have learnt to break away, whereas others choose either to ignore their problems.
True happiness, high levels of confidence (that aren’t just a façade) and self-actualisation can only occur when you are being true to yourself, which means living through and improving your true-self and breaking away from the ego-self.
I also believe that deep connections and true love only occur when both parties are acting true to themselves. Connections and relationships where the ego-self is the dominate version of how you portray yourself end up failing, as the ego-self doesn’t allow you to be in a position where you can accept love from another person.