This is the fourth volume of a multi-volume series aiming to hack the 'ego'
The next step in hacking the ego is re-wiring the brain. This means coming up with new habits which will replace the old Ego habits, in the long run. In many ways, it rests on awareness and challenging oneself's established opinions and ideas. Practically, it means sitting one's ass down, alone with one's thoughts and going through several strains of thought relevant to targeting the Ego.
A primer here : I've always been skeptical of meditation and still am. Meditation is a practice aiming at personal improvement from an emotional, spiritual and mental point of view. That's great. The way meditation is practiced however is that it occurs at a time of the day where it's irrelevant to the acting self.
Now, obviously, its very aim is to improve a person so that she is primed once the necessary situations arise. I do believe however that there is a missing link between meditation and actualisation. I'll try to bridge that in the following. The 3 paragraphs try to tackle the Ego's most to least obvious manifestations.
You are not invincible
Ego thinks it's invincible. You are not invincible nor do you want to be really. Let's start with a shocker and converge to some insight : If you feel reducing your vulnerability will increase your confidence, you're driving a formula one car into a wall. To keep it simple, vulnerability manifests when asking for help or recognising I'm wrong. It's not easy. It is the single best indicator of personal improvement however. It's the flowering of humility.
Asking is un-ego. Apologising is un-ego. By embracing vulnerability, one takes a step further towards self-acceptance (which I'll tackle further in Volume 5) and lays down a sound foundation for confidence. Osho calls this 'Maturity' in his book by the same title. It's the difference between growing old and growing up. The moment you realize you don't need to imitate anybody and step up your game to assume the responsibility of being yourself. Brene Brown, story teller / researcher, drills through vulnerability in her talk.
A daily practice to bring about that aspect of yourself and destroy that side of Ego is self-ridicule. Strive to mock yourself in a group or during a conversation every day for the next three weeks. Let me know what happens in the comments below :)
You are not in control
The Ego thinks it's in control. A good way to remind ourselves of how fallible we are is Milgram's experience. However dark this might be, it's an experiment sticky enough one can't forget. It was aimed at understanding how Nazi officers executed in-human orders. Have a look at the video below for further details :
Another way to make it impossible to forget how absurd the idea of control is, is Neil de Grasse Tyson's amazing reflection about the universe and the Ego :
And our galaxy, the Milky Way, is one of 50 or 100 billion other galaxies in the universe. And with every step, every window that modern astrophysics has opened to our mind, the person who wants to feel like they’re the centre of everything ends up shrinking. And for some people they might even find it depressing, I assert that if you were depressed after learning and being exposed to the perspective, you started your day with an unjustifiably large ego. You thought more highly of yourself than in fact the circumstances deserved.
You are not unique
Last and most certainly not least is the fact you're not unique. I think this is the least obvious one and the most difficult barrier to break. It is truly however. Some might say uniqueness is a western disease. We're brought up thinking we're a beautiful snowflake. I think Tyler Durden does a great job reminding us we aren't:
Ego is thinking you're unique. As François Ricard writes in the after-word to Kundera's "Jacques et son maître", this is a residue of teenage-hood. You are a variation. That's all. And as terrifying and despairing as that might sound, it only is because so because of the framework we've been taught to evaluate our self-value.
At the end, you're not invincible, you're not in control and you're not unique. You're decaying matter prone to the mood of the world. You're foam on top of a random wave. Nothing more.
Let go / Float / Exist less / Be nothing