Ego - Volume 3 : Two blue lines ?

This is the third volume of a multi-volume series aiming to hack the 'ego' 


Ego is a subtle beast. Often it's hard to notice as it manifests in very specific situations and, as described in Volume 2, serves as a side-kick. Since nobody fires a side-kick, the latter being useful in critical situations, the Ego hangs around like a buddy. In many ways, it can be likened to a cancer : Its effects don't become obvious until very late in life, it feeds on one's own nutrients and resources, it is a mis-behaving mutation of one's own organism. Ego is a part of our character that grows along with all other personal "modules" and "mind-wares". For anyone who's been on the other side of ego and experienced humility deeply, it becomes obvious Ego is a mis-behaving aspect of oneself that needs to be hacked.

Hacking is a matter of deep understanding in a first instance. That means recognising and singling out the workings and the manifestations of a given phenomenon. Like everything else obviously, Ego is a habit. It is rooted in and manifests through small personal behaviours and actions. These are the elements to identify as they need to be then overridden for the hack to be successful. That might explain the post title. Two blue lines refers to a positive pregnancy test and what follows is an attempt at creating an Ego test.

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If it was as simple as peeing on a stick and getting a message back saying "Now you know why people are avoiding you", that'd be great. Unfortunately, that Kick-starter campaign hasn't started yet. So the best way to go about is probably introspection. One needs to put his Ego radar on for a couple of weeks and turn awareness level up. You then start noticing during discussions, social interactions and personal behaviour some peculiar Ego outbreaks.
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Following is a series of observations. Some are funny, some are concerning, most are pathetic. Some are personal, some I picked observing other people. Let's not say which is which :)

  • Ego is when you don't listen to people speaking to you and rather formulate your next sentence based on what you said, merely trying to shove some of the other person's words to camouflage the fact you don't give a fuck about what they're saying, are simply enjoying the sound of your own voice and admiring your line of thought.
  • Ego is looking at yourself in the mirror and confusing your statisfaction with your looks for some kind of personal accomplishment, blatantly forgetting the mirror reveals jack shit about your soul unfortunately 
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  • Ego is when you'd wish some one did a photoshoot of you or a fashion designer noticed you on the street and suggested a stroll down his next catwalk. In its advanced stages, Ego will hope your next girlfriend is a photogtraph since the only person who will realistically give enough of a fuck to bother with this is someone who loves you and might feel obliged or, ideally, pleased to do it
  • Ego is when your eyes wander to the corner of the Skype window and you find yourself looking more and more at your video projection on Skype instead of the other person's video. Try and notice your or the other person's gaze during your next Skype call

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  • Ego is when you can't lift the bar off your chest anymore and though it's lingering there on your chest, threatening to crush your torso, you don't shout for help. Or maybe that's just stupidity
  • Ego is avoiding to talk to someone younger, smaller, lamer etc. in a group so as not to de-value one's relative worth in the group. In its malign manifestations, the Ego will openly ignore some people so as to demonstrate relative value.
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  • Ego is self-promoting oneself. When in lack of raving fans, and especially when confronted with a new crowd, you will consciously try and direct the conversation to shove in a personal story or accomplishment i.e. how crazy about you your ex was, "not that one, the other, other one, the blonde. No the other blonde". You get it. In its uber-nasty manifestations, Ego will even brag in front of an easy-to-impress, low-ego person, when normally it shouldn't feel the stress of demonstrating value in such an environment where no 'race' to higher value is being held
  • Ego manifests through snobbism and a judgemental attitude as well. De Botton defines a snob as being a person that defines you through a single aspect of your being i.e. "What do you do ? / I'm a plumber / ..." Notice how what your mind pictures when you think of a plumber. Ego is self-worship and in that sense needs to constantly reduce surroundings to grasp its size and elevate itself

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  • Ego also manifests through negative affirmation i.e. failing to self-ridicule oneself. That means, besides being unable to take oneself less seriously, it'll show its teeth whenever someone tries to de-value you. In a much darker incarnation, Ego will even get beastly when a raving fan fails to praise you properly ! i.e. Actually, there were 800 persons (not 650 - you idiot) in that room and they were all on their feet when the play was over. I had to bow six times (not 4 - were you fucking sleeping - silent f)
  • Ego in its last and fiercest manifestation is gearing a skill towards the soul goal of feeling praised. It's also the most common as it refers back to "the hedonistic treadmill" and the common disease of orienting one's life to achieve dreams some one else thought out instead of you. Tolstoy cites an example "It is better to know less than necessary than to know more than necessary. Do not fear the lack of knowledge, but truly fear unnecessary knowledge which is acquired only to please vanity"
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This list might be inaccurate or incomplete obviously. Your comments are much much more than welcome :)