If you were to tell me you didn’t love me, I’d believe you immediately. But if you were to tell me the opposite – that you love me more than the world itself – I’d deny it as blasphemy without hesitation. I’d make you work – and work some more as long as the world keeps turning – to prove to me that you love me. The idea of you not loving me is so much more probable in the inner workings of my brain that I must see real live proof to be convinced of the opposite. I believe I’m unlovable, for some reason, because of that inner thing.
There’s this thing – this relentless voice – that drives me to believe that those closest to me, whom I love the most, don’t share the same love and affection for me in return. It tells me constantly that I’m surrounded by unrequited love, convincing me that what feels like love must really be something else. It’s an unrequited love that’s lifelong, and it’s a nagging, pestering feeling, one that’s been there since childhood, and one that drives me to act in the most peculiar of ways. But why must I think I’m so unlovable?
We all have these inner voices, I’m beginning to realize, and as I put my inner world more and more on display, I’m seeing one particular great advantage of that: I’m realizing that I’m not alone.
I’m realizing that, since others seem to have this voice going on inside their head too, I must not be crazy after all. The voice isn’t something, as it turns out, that’s attributed to a mental illness, though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes feel that way.
This voice is something that we can collectively refer to as ego. We all have an ego, and every single person seems to have a particular understanding of what an ego is. We think of someone being egotistical, full of themselves, walking around thinking they’re better than other people, and we commonly use the word in sentences that sometimes go like: You egotistical, pompous asshole!
But I’ve come to understand a completely different meaning for the short and sweet, three letter word, which I later learned from a stranger in the Bahamas is actually nothing more than the Latin derivative of the single-letter word we all know so well: “I.”
When we begin a sentence with “I” we often form that initial concept of what ego is. We feel pride or ownership, we feel confidence or strength, and many times selfishness and self-centeredness takes charge. But sometimes, with the use of “I,” we come to create a vision of what “I” really is. We create a vision of ourselves so separate from what we actually are, and this seems to occur without our acknowledgment or conscious help. Our ego becomes a vision of ourselves as seen through a distorted, cynical lens, and takes up space in our brains as if it’s a separate entity that we now have no choice but to be in constant opposition with.
The ego, as it turns out, is that voice. It’s that voice that we all have inside ourselves, and I’ve come to see my ego as something particularly nasty – ie. the voice that tells me I’m not loved in return. After discussing the topic with my closest friends, we seem to have come to somewhat of a consensus: many egos are not egotistical at all. They’re shallow, empty, insecure, mean, and ugly things. They shout blasphemy and twist reality so harshly to make what’s real so far out of reach. They push us to have this image of ourselves – this vision of what “I” is – that is distorted and incorrect in each and every way. They rob us of our charm, strength, and confidence, leaving us in a pit of self-loathing.
And they become all that more apparent when we’re faced with situations that bring forth our deepest insecurities, of which our egos seem to be particularly fond of harnessing, whether they’re the true creator of them or not. Our egos latch onto these insecurities and make them so ingrained in our belief systems that there’s simply no other alternative: our mean egos have an actual effect on our real lives.
Our egos – and the beliefs that they instill in us – affect our relationships, our confidence, our happiness, our productiveness, and even our ability to function as rational human beings. Before we know it, we’re in hysteric sobs accusing the ones we love the most that they don’t love us back! while they look at us in confusion, with all evidence of the opposite at hand, and a line that slaps our silly egos in the face with its blatant simplicity and truth: How could you possibly think that?
This is a real life event that happened to me very recently, and one that made me realize something very interesting: the ego, as mean and manipulative as it may be, is also very cowardly. When faced with an argument that dispels the very beliefs the silly ego instills in you, it will retreat, leaving only your rational mind to deal with the facts – and the consequences of it’s upset which will commonly leave you feeling like a total moron. This, I finally realize, is exactly the kind of phenomenon that has been happening to me throughout my entire life, and the very one that makes me believe I must be crazy.
But as it turns out, I’m not crazy at all. I just have a particularly mean and illogical ego to deal with on a constant basis, but we’re making amends. I’m doing the best I can to give my ego advice and shape it into a better human being so it can live in greater harmony with my true self.
I’m giving my ego the love and affection it so clearly needs, and hoping that in return, it will stop telling me that I’m unloved by the ones I love the most – so that stinging feeling of unrequited love can leave my life for good.
If you take a moment to peer inside the inner workings of your mind, like I have, you’ll surely be able to spot your ego, too. Hopefully your ego is less cynical and abusive as mine is, but if you can find any sense of cynicism at all, follow it, for it will surely lead to that entity and voice of that three letter word.
And once you’ve spotted your ego in its unveiled form, you’ll hopefully be able to arrive at the truth and purity of that beloved single-letter word.