“If we are honest with ourselves, the most fascinating problem in the world is…who am I? What do you mean…what do you feel when you say the word, I.” ~ Alan Watts
I’m writing this article, not because I’ve attained the answer, but because I’d like to pass this information along, as I would have wanted to read something like this earlier. If I had to choose only one thing to watch out for — to beware of in life — it is this:
You. Yourself. Ego.
The infamous ego. From Freud’s Id, Ego, Superego, to “He’s gotta big ego,” we’ve all heard about it one way or another. Ego, in my opinion, is probably the biggest thing that gets into anyone’s way. All too often, we are the ones getting in our own ways. We have the ability to deceive ourselves like no one else can.
Your worst enemy lives inside of you, and it’s called ego.
Eckhart Tolle often says, “I can’t live with myself. Well…who is ‘I’… and who is the ‘self’ that ‘I’ cannot live with?”
So what exactly is ego? Well, I would describe it as everything you think you are, in a nutshell. The feeling of “I,” or what we mean when we say “I,” as Sam Harris, Alan Watts, and many others put it. When you are talking to yourself, who are you talking to? The feeling of being a self. We tend to identify with our story, our thoughts, and our emotions. Ego is the reason we may feel the need to defend “ourselves.” We are defending an idea of our self that we feel is threatened. When we are not identifying with this, the need to defend ourselves also goes away.
“Ego is a social institution with no physical reality. The ego is simply your symbol of yourself. Just as the word “water” is a noise that symbolizes a certain liquid without being it, so too the idea of ego symbolizes the role you play, who you are, but it is not the same as your living organism.” ~ Alan Watts