Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Ego Paradox

I was talking to a colleague today about how some people (yeah, some other people) can be so defended that they can’t hear feedback or own the less lovely parts of themselves. When we see someone unable to look at his or her “stuff”, someone who can’t take feedback, we know that we are seeing an ego in defense. 
And I do know that from my own experience—that my ego will try to protect the fragile, wounded, less-than-pretty part of me and it will go for every defense mechanism to keep me from seeing and owning what’s painful or icky.
But then I realized that –quite paradoxically—that it takes a lot of ego strength to be able to look at your own inner life, your motivations, your wounded parts and be able to own them and accept them. It takes having an ego to be able to say—even if cringing—“yeah, that is me”, “I guess I do that”, “there’s that old part of me again”, “yeah, I’m doing it again and I want to stop that.” That kind of looking and owning takes tremendous ego strength.
Vulnerability and humility and self-awareness require having some ego. So is it a balancing act? Maybe like Goldilocks—we need not too much and not too little but the “just right” amount of ego to see and heal and change.

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