The only constant is i.
Fall comes; things die.
Summer comes; birds fly.
Leaves shatter, grass frays
thousand reminders, endless mistakes
learning – retake
Countless miseries, countless friends,
shadow games and plain nonsense.
Faces coalesce, masks collapse,
if you peer inside,
the only constant is I
(Poem by Meenakshi Iyer, from the book Briste)
Ego, the ‘I’of any person. It is an armor. Freud defined ego as the caretaker of the individual, the one that doesn’t like the primitive drives of ‘id’take control while also keeping away from the stringent demands of the ‘superego’. Ego shields the individual, from danger and pain. It keeps an individual from being vulnerable. And therein, lies the trouble with ego.
The armor, donned so early in life, sports it’s own chinks and dents from experiences, betrays, disappointments, accolades, achievements and admiration. That armor tends to get heavy and cumbersome at times, especially when what is hidden underneath; the desires, yearnings, whims and fantasies, so cautiously withdrawn and veiled, begins to anticipate. Then, the armor becomes a barrier.
Ego has earned the top spot in the list of reasons which ruin relationships. And the only submission the wise ones typically have to give is to “set it aside”. But how can you? How does one keep aside something that has become an innate part of you, something which constitutes your ‘I’?
- Don’t cheat on it: Don’t go behind it’s back and call it names. It is not bad, awful or wrong. It just is. It is you. So don’t get defensive when someone sees you with it and calls out.
- Feel it’s weight: Know it’s there and acknowledge it’s presence. Have a heart-to-heart and understand it. When it raises it head during uncomfortable situations (read threatening), know and feel it’s pull.
- Find a time and place to take it out: Ego festers, like a wound. So if you don’t let is dry out in the sun once in a while, it’ll turn ugly too. So find a place and people where you can set it aside for a while; where you don’t need the safety and security as much. Where you can be open to explore and expose.
- Find tools to make the lift: To lift that armor one also needs to learn the techniques. Introspection and empathy – two big words which hold the trick. Unless you learn to wield these two, or at least fiddle with them a little, that armor is going to turn into your second skin.
- Make it visible: That armor of ego is invisible. Unless you make it visible to others; share your triggers, wants, needs, desires, fears, insecurities and anxieties, your near and dear ones will never know about your invisible best friend. So if money is an issue, have a fear of rejection, silently hate the dark and harbor dreams of being a ‘somebody’, your best friend will thicken it’s chain-mail in its attempts to keep you safe from rejection and ridicule, aka, build that fence of ego. So, talk about your deepest feelings and thoughts, that way the ones who love you will know what makes the armor clasp tight.
- Take a picture: That’s right, take a picture. We’ve heard of vision boards, now make an ego board. Make a board which captures all things which feed your self-esteem and pride; past accomplishments, recognition, a moment in the limelight or doing something unique. Whatever holds meaning or significance to you, put it up. Why? It helps you acknowledge it, identify it as a potential-armor when you are in a similar situation. And knowing it and its power might just help in keeping you humble.
None of these are going to be easy to accomplish. But that was never the intent. The intent, was to know the ‘i’ grows. And for growth to happen, the armor has to expand, grow thin and weight less.