Category Archives: Mentoring

The Maintenance and Destruction of Ego.

Another question raised by a member in the Vashita Gyan discussion group was on the matter or Ego, its identification and removal to evolve and enhance as a human being. A humble attempt has been made to answer the same.
Ego is an oft repeated word that continues to affect our daily lives in every aspect possible. It has the ability to hover around like a shadow and to color all the actions and reactions, and the very thought processes and take over the rational thought of an individual, thus giving free reign to the mind to take over and do its very worst. The Ego has been known to make and break people. It has the capacity to take one to the very heights of success or to completely ruin the individual. So what is this Ego? Are we born with it or is it just something that is acquired during the journey of our life or is it just something that is learned from the environment and the elders in our vicinity?
The ego has been the cause of many a dissension and has led to wars and upheavals in the social, political and the economic field and has led many down a path towards self-annihilation and aimless ventures affecting many a lives. On the other hand there have been many a success stories that have gone to inspire and help the new generation in shaping their life creating new pathways of thought and action.
Let us understand what this ego really means. The Cambridge dictionary online gives the meaning of ego thus: your idea or opinion of yourself, especially your feeling of your own importance and ability: In Psychoanalysis, the part of a person’s mind that tries to match the hiddendesires (= wishes) of the id (= part of the unconscious mind) with the demandsof the real world . It further describes the various types of ego. The “alter ego” in British English defines it as…the part of someone’s personality that is not usually seen by other people . Then there is the “super ego” in psychoanalysis, which is …the part of your mind that knows what is right and what is wrong, and causes you to feel guilty when you do something wrong. (Definition of ego, super ego and alter ego from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press : http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/ego ).
The Oxford Dictionary gives the meaning of ego: A person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance. Psychoanalysis: The part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity. Philosophy: (In metaphysics) a conscious thinking and the meaning of “alter ego”: a person whose personality is different from your own but who shows or acts as another side of your personality. And the “super ego”: Psychoanalysis: The part of a person’s mind that acts as a self-critical conscience, reflecting social standards learned from parents and teachers: ( http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/ego).
Thus the Ego just considers itself with the self-esteem, i.e. what one thinks of oneself in their own mind or more simply as they see themselves in their own eyes. This in turn is a function of their own wishes and desires and projections thus made. This would mean that we presuppose that the human being is able to do this honestly and without self-deception…a tall order indeed. Further the individual may misread reactions and his or her own desires may come in the way of seeing things clearly thus adjusting the circumstance to suit one’s own purpose leading to delusions of self-importance. Further how we think of ourselves is also colored by the reactions of others to our actions and our very presence. This would mean that there is gap between what the person wishes to be and what the person really is….the former taking precedence where the ego is concerned. This works very well for the mind that enhances it even further leading to the image of the self in the mind’s eye which is far removed from reality. We form an idea of how we should look to the world and then live it and insist upon it while the rest of the world doesn’t perceive you in a similar fashion hence the dissensions, arguments and misunderstandings and vehement denials and false notions.
From a psychoanalysis point of view, if the id is the unconscious mind, then verily there is no ego to begin with at birth. Here it is the instincts that will take precedence over conscious thinking. This means it will demand the immediate satisfaction of desire. Thus the tantrums of the child, when its desires are crossed. It is therefore evident that rationalism plays no role here. Its only later when one becomes aware of one’s environment and begins to relate things and develops the idea of the self that the ego develops. This is mainly the result of external stimuli and the actions and reactions with various entities and in varied situations that the picture of the self, starts to emerge. This to some extent is logical and may even be based on reason, the last of which is based on actual experiences, which may be true or false…a subject matter of individual perception. Thus the concept of right and wrong may be adhered to, though whether what is really right or really wrong is another question that has to be dealt with a this stage. The reason for this is that the individual is still in the process of satisfying his or her desires and remove the gap between the hidden desires and the real world, and in the pursuit of so called happiness may make relevant compromises. This would mean that the ego would go to any lengths to achieve its desires and so in that sense many at times end up making irrational decisions that defy all logic and may be even given to extremes in emotional situations. This is evident if one were to observe everyday behavior when a person becomes adamant and insists on having his/her way. If the child is accessed by the adult at this time, then despite being an adult the result will of course be disastrous.
The alter ego on the other hand is one which is well hidden and presented when circumstances demand it. This alter ego could be good or bad…its subjective…..for example superman is the alter ego of Peter Parker in the famous comic book series. There are real life examples as well, as the famous singer Christina Aguilera and X Tina. It’s another self which is created to handle matters that the original personality cannot handle or to present another side of a person, perhaps more confident and outgoing as opposed to the original one. Sometimes they may end up living a double life….and is wholly in the realm of the subject of psychology.
If one goes by the Oxford dictionary then there is a more positive side to the alter ego and that is its capacity to be self-critical….this could help the original personality to to enhance or deteriorate depending on the kind of criticism. This means that there is an element of lack of sureness as far as the contribution of the alter ego to character and evolvement in the positive direction is concerned.
This leaves us with the Super Ego. This is related to you conscience and with the help of the wisdom gained from experience , yours and others, one can enter the realm of analytical thought having both width and depth, enabling the individual to have better judgement and discrimination, leading to rational thought analysis. Thus the individual will have a better concept of right and wrong. The only care that has to be taken that relativism in this respect will have to be discarded so as to maintain truth. This would mean that absolutism would rule the day making any further analysis unnecessary as where there is only one truth the question of choice does not enter and the decision taken or the solution would prevail in all space , time and conditions.
Thus while the ego can be self-deceiving in that it creates a barrier to one’s development due to false belies of the self or belief in the projections of the self that one desires to be, the alter ego goes one step further in their creation of another self . Both can be harmful for development of both the earthly and spiritual self and result in dissensions that are harmful to both body and soul. Thus the ego may stop growth and development in a variety of ways and in some instances destroy ones personality and life as well. It is best that these are destroyed and not allowed to rule your life.
The maintenance of the super ego then seems to be a better choice as it tells one to differentiate between right and wrong and a sense of guilt is good for the soul and for the enhancement of character and personality and above all growth. As it is this ego that will spend less time in trying to impress or project unrealistic ideas of oneself. Life will indeed be more easy to lead and the wrongs will be easily accept and wrong thought processes acknowledged and in short one will be able to move on and not be stuck or stagnate due to an unrelenting ego that cannot let go.
However on the other side of the picture , many a times the absolute correctness that the super ego entails and its application is mistaken for the unrelenting ego by those who fail to understand the underlying truth or rather by those who have an ego that refuses to see the light of the day. In such circumstances little can be done and time is the only solution when reality of the truth will dawn on the individual to enable the person to mend his ways.
Finally in my opinion if one were to develop discrimination and rationalistic way of thinking it will over time, do away with the ego that so much inhibits the human psyche especially in the modern times.

ARE YOU LIVING SOMEBODY ELSE’S LIFE?

Since the day we are born we have very little control on our own lives. Blame it on the system or on our mental framework or on the way our value systems mold us. At an early stage as infants we are controlled by the immediate environment which comprises the parents and the near and dear ones, that include friends and relatives. The infant is forced to toe everybody’s line as there is no choice due to both lack of awareness, and, devoid of any learning experiences, has to put up with various stimuli, natural or man-made. While the natural stimuli is all very well and very much necessary…though it is lacking in the modern world…the man made stimuli is as the adults would want it to be or what they consider to be in the right, or what is acceptable to society and the medical facility and the like.
Be that as it may as the infant grows this influence of the environment does not reduce and the aspirations of the parents and the friends come into play and thus there is an avid need to meet the required standards that are expected and thus the individual just seems to fall in line, and carry on life in an action and reaction, very much outlined for him by the others and their expectations. The traditional society will put in a lot of do’s and don’ts and the modern one will put the pressure of performing according to the requirement of the market as the “future ” of the person depends on it. Thus one ends up living practically the aspirations of the parents, teachers, friends and the societal requirements and the market requirements and the competition of course. Thus the individual is constantly driven by this external stimuli and is progressively brainwashed into accepting the wishes of all the external agencies that make up the environment and ends up making goals that are reflection of the needs and desires of this very environment.
Thus the individual, driven by the terms and conditions of this external environment , is so taken up with it in terms of time and pressure to perform, that little attention is given to what one really wants to do or what one is really fit for…..in fact there is little or no room left for introspection , no back step taken to view the scenario and to indulge in a reflections of one’s own aspirations. Everyone is running after the set pattern of goals set out for her or him and is so overwhelmed that one is literally led to believe that these are the very things that he or she wanted to have in their life and that there can be nothing else.
Thus during the infancy and childhood the parents teachers and friends rule the day. During the unruly teens the idols and icons play on the mind to which is added the peer pressure. By now the individual has borrowed so to speak a pretty good set of values and desires that go into goal setting, again colored by the market trends and its future requirements. It’s really fantastic how all this is thought to be true and pursued in earnest with a zest and zeal that is unparalleled in focus and a need to achieve. No it doesn’t stop here there is more to be got at every step as the demands from the environment continue right throughout the adult years and into the twilight zone.
Then comes a phase of peace quiet and slowing down. This is when reflections begin and soon as the entire reruns of life are made ….as there is now time to contemplate…..one learns with shock that indeed yes where was the ” I ” in all this, where and when did one really do things for oneself. One has catered to the parents, teachers, friends, advisers and in later years to the spouses and the bosses and the situations and the natural conditions as well and the very system that we have built around ourselves and we are so proud of.
Thus the identity loss is complete, one has lived the lives and aspirations of others at all times, the value systems patched on one by society and conditions of the time. In all this the ‘I” in the individual got lost and trampled upon and you never really lived your own life but everybody else’s. Yes! One is constantly living somebody else’s life and conditions don’t help either and in fact become a convenient excuse to continue on the same stream as there is the added attraction of ease. No need t think! Just follow a set pattern….it’s convenient and requires less effort! So much for living life on one’s own terms.
Yes! Living life on one’s own terms is difficult…one has to go against the current and put up a constant resistance…it calls for commitment and consistency and perseverance.. Strength of mind and the fire to carry it through…..all in all a strong personality. Perhaps the trials and pressures of the modern world has weakened man to the glee of the few strong that rule the world ruthlessly and to the detriment of the common man who refuses to be strong and stand tall!

Rationalism Vs Emotionalism

Recently, a question was raised on the counter effects of rationalism in the absence of emotion. At the outset perhaps it would be better to segregate the two terms emotion and emotionalism. These are two very different terms although near in spelling and pronunciation.
While emotion is a very positive tool, emotionalism can destroy the best of us, if exhibited incorrectly and in the wrong conditions, and can have a very disturbing effect on the environment.
Emotions like Anger, Contempt, Fear, Disgust, Happiness, Sadness and Surprise have been given to us as a defense mechanism, some to ward of danger and others to make us aware of our surroundings and become sensitive to its nuances, before possible harm can occur. These are in fact a very part of our physiology and are programed into us and would do us harm if we tried to do away with them. In fact used in correct quantity these emotions help to build our character and give substance to our behavior and help to build our personality.
Rationalism on the other hand is the pure use of logic and analytical power to gauge a situation in its pristineness, an objective analysis of the situation that has no room for emotion, an almost robotic quality to do what is best in a given situation sans distraction of emotion that will bring out the best result. It’s precise and practical and very much on the point and leaves little room to maneuver. It will involves discrimination and wisdom of experience and a much centered and balanced look at things and will cater to absolutism.
Emotionalism, on the other hand, is a different kettle of fish, it removes all power to think, and it will destabilize, and will oscillate taking extreme positions and bring out bursts of emotions, and will lead to irrational analysis, based mostly on subjectivity, and will render argument and understanding useless, leaving one physically and emotionally and mentally hot, and upset, with expanded eyes, variant gestures, teary eyed in some cases with heated attitude and raised voices and sharp body movements, and the inability to listen altogether…an explosive situation all in all leading to dissension and soreness in body and mind and resulting some times in heinous acts of bodily harm and revenge…..all very undesirable and completely foolish if I may say so!
What is necessary is to have rationalism with the right amount of emotion. This will ensure that emotion is expressed in right measure and quality and according to the circumstances. This will not only resolve complications but will lead to a saner living pattern and help to maintain a more peaceful environment which in turn will promote growth and prosperity. Understanding will be clear and the perceptions will be right, there will be lesser misunderstandings and more constructive thought processes and above all it will enable one to put oneself in the others shoe and see things as they are and thus be clearer about the concerned situation. It will lead to more openness and a sense of goodwill will prevail and the sense of having enemies and opposite parties may reduce to the minimum.
Thus emotion +rationalism will enable but emotionalism will disable.
This is what being human is being all about…enhancement, change and elevated thought processes that are put into practice so that every tomorrow is better than yesterday…..the removal of negativity and the indulgence in recreating ourselves……constantly on an everyday scale. Emotionalism will inhibit this process…so be rational and by all means have emotions …but shun emotionalism…! Continue reading Rationalism Vs Emotionalism

The happy hours of life

   are all that we want,

                                                    But it is because that we have sadness

                                                    We are aware of the happy hours being happy,

 Otherwise we would have taken them for granted.