I recently took an on-line personality test a friend shared on Facebook. I was surprised when one of the results indicated I have a big ego. I don't see myself as particularly arrogant or conceited. My character weaknesses tend to fall on the side of self-doubt and insecurity. Not that I took the test very seriously, but it did cause me to reflect on what it means to have a big ego.
It made me look at my experience of insecurity in a new way. I saw when I am experiencing self-doubt, I am actually self-absorbed and self-centered at those times, and these unpleasant experiences indicate just as inflated an idea about my self-importance as grandiosity and conceit. I realized that insecurity and self-importance are really just two sides of the same coin of self-absorption.
I found it freeing to see it this way because I am much better at not taking my arrogant thinking seriously than I am about ignoring insecure thoughts. Seeing that my feelings or inferiority result from me being self-centered helped me to see that I can get over myself more easily. If I don't see conceit as helpful and naturally course-correct when I go down that train of thought, I recognized I can do the same when I follow the train of thought of insecurity. Both happen when I lose touch with living in the moment and get caught up in judging myself. It just happens that I have a clearer understanding that arrogance doesn't serve me and is not based on truth. It feels less real to me when I feel better than, and more real when I feel less than. However, neither are true, and both are a reflection of me being self-centered.
The anti-dote is easy -- ignore myself. Meaning give myself permission to stop scrutinizing my thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and physical form. The longer I look, the more I find to judge. I used to think critical self-examination and analysis was required in order to improve myself. In retrospect, I see that this self-absorption was more likely to paralyze me instead of propelling me forward into my potential.
The innate intelligence inside of each one of us is to wake up to the perfection of who we are. There is no improvement needed in our form, there is only the gradual awakening of our consciousness to that understanding. We are love. We are whole. We are one.
My intellect is not going to help me with this awakening. My self-improvement efforts only point me in the opposite direction from this understanding. It might sound overly simplistic to say that the best thing I can do to support my well-being is to not think of myself so much, but it is the best medicine for me.
How I manifest in the world of form is just a fraction of who I AM. Therefore, the less I focus on my ephemeral, ever-changing, mercurial humanness, the more I experience the depth, richness and unchanging foundation of my formless Authentic Self. It helps me to see that the insecurities that rock my world are never more than a tempest in a teacup.
If it occurs to me, I can simply shift what is in the background and foreground of my awareness. Am I going to have perspective on who I really am, or am I going to zoom in on the temporary manifestation of my spiritual nature in the world of form? I will always switch back and forth, but I know both options are available. And I know which one feels best.
I may go on my ego trips from time to time, but it is nice to know I will always come home.
Rohini Ross is a psychotherapist, a leadership consultant, and an executive coach. Rohini facilitates personalized three-day retreats to help individuals, couples, and professionals connect more fully with their true nature and experience greater levels of wellbeing, resiliency, and success. You can find out more about Rohini’s work on her website, rohiniross.com.