Friday, April 17, 2009

Ego: Is that all life has to offer?

Everyone has an ego. It is nothing more than a combination of many different emotions such as confidence, aggressiveness, selfishness, happiness, and greed. It is emotions that we discover as we grow and socialize. It can make up a large part of our personality and can frame our identity. But, it can also be a negative character trait because it can interrupt logical and rational thought and is driven by strong emotions. Although it can give us a sense of who we are, our ego can also hinder us from learning new things and making new social connections. It can give us a false sense of what life really has to offer.

How do we develop an ego? Humans are conscious beings because we have an understanding of ourselves and of our minds. We think of ourselves in the first person and use the 'self' label to identify ourselves in a group of many individuals. The ego is a natural quality in human beings and also exists to a lesser extent in other animals. We have egos because we have emotions that are stimulated from our outside environment through our senses. However, it is not a simple task to understand the extent of our own egos because much of our own emotional reactions are a product of heredity, about 40-50%. This is why we are sometimes unaware of how strong our emotional reactions are in certain situations. We are not always under the impression that our egos are stimulating our behaviour and attitudes within different environments.

There is no concrete way to illustrate the ego. It is designed by our own brains depending on our genetics, environment, and social interactions. We frame our egos from a young age, although we do not yet know it, by our strengths and weaknesses as well as by our interactions with not only our families but our peers. We are brought up in a society so we are encouraged to be socialized and we do this through interactions. As children we are exposed to different groups of people such as the jocks, nerds, rebels, goths, etc. and naturally we find a place or a niche that we are drawn to by our emotions or groups where we are accepted. There are also niches within a certain group so part of how we interact in a certain peer group also is a matter of chance. How we differentiate ourselves within the group is in large part left up to what niches are available. Some children become leaders, others foot soldiers or jesters, and still others peacemakers depending on what niche is available, how suited a child is to filling it, and chance. Once a child fills a role they adapt to it and are influenced by their peers to maintain their 'personality' within the group. We begin to shape our personalities and attitudes by our socialized roles at an early age.

We start to become aware of our egos throughout adolescence and early adulthood. We begin to reminisce about things that we experienced in our past through chance and timing and through our decisions that helped us to get to where we are today. This brings satisfaction to our emotional desires in our minds that we have endured so much to frame our personalities and to build an identity that is unique to the self or individual. We realize that our past actions are valuable to us because it gives us a sense of who we are. Without our own story, we would be... a nobody. This sense, this story, this worth is our ego.

Our ego is so important to us. It defines who we are and helps us to be a someone that has a past, that has opinions, and that has a unique personality. These things help a person feel like they have a stance in society and it gives them a basis for social interactions. It is a part of our biological nature because we like many organisms are socialized. But, we need to have a sense of our own individual in order to satisfy our emotional desires and represent ourselves in a large group. We do not all have the same likes and dislikes so we need to have a way to identify what is suitable for us. But, as we see in society, there are many people who believe that what they think and feel should be the way that others think and feel and this leads to the clash of egos.

We all need to understand that our egos are shaped by our own strengths and weaknesses, by our social interactions, and by our past experiences. Although we are genetically and evolutionarily similar we are unalike in our attitudes, cultures, and behaviour because we all have had different past experiences, social roles, and vulnerabilities. We simply cannot impose our egos on others and expect them to accept your ideas and attitudes without argument. Argumentation is good. It allows people to reason with each other and come to resolutions in circumstances where one party is right and the other wrong or when decision-making. However, it is important to always build our knowledge of everything around us even when we think that we know everything. What we think we know is actually our own emotions inflating our egos. Just because we feel like we already have a sense of ourselves does not mean we cannot build on that. Life is a continuous growth process. It does not stop when we have reached the realization of our egos and our personality. There is little satisfaction in believing that there is nothing else out there for us because we think we have found who we are. Life is not solely about finding who we are. Life is about the awareness of knowing more. Knowing ourselves is just one small step in the awareness of life.

1 comment:

  1. "But, as we see in society, there are many people who believe that what they think and feel should be the way that others think and feel and this leads to the clash of egos."

    Excellent article. I was just talking with my mom about imagining everyone on Earth having the power of God - the ability to change reality as we see fit. I predicted that we would annihilate each other within a day.

    I love your articles and look forward to more.