The fragile ego of modern times

fragile ego

The rise of self-help has created a billion-dollar industry. Everywhere you turn there is a self-help guru attending to the fragile ego phenomenon that exists in modern times. Who am I? What do I want? What is best for me? Me… me… me, we have never been more self-focused than we are at the moment.

The Rise of Minority groups

Minorities demand acknowledgement more than ever, and we have numerous choices about who we want to be, where we want to be, and what we want to be. Gone are the times where society governed the norms, and where our roles were more clearly defined. Men and women had clearly defined roles and lived within a community where choices existed with fewer options.

Paradox of choice

As the well-known writer Barry Schwartz remarked, having too much choice is not always a good thing. His book titled “The Paradox of Choice” highlights the difficulties of having too much choice and the counterproductive mindset that this creates. Too much choice creates a tendency to believe that there is always something better than what you have. The belief that what you have is inferior leads to to a lack of commitment and a feeling of restlessness. This has implications for dating and for consumerism.

Insecurities and fears

The fragile ego creates further insecurities and fears in society today. Nobody wants to be left out and everybody was feeling included. In many ways we have become more egocentric than ever, demanding that the way we see the world is acknowledged by everybody else. The  rise of the “woke brigade” is a good example of this emerging need to be validated individually.

Of course, in many ways, this is a good thing and everybody should be treated equally. The problems arise when individual egos believe that they are more persecuted than others and victimhood creates further divisions in society. Our fragile egos will create a weaker, splintered society instead of a solid connected society.

 

Instead of finding ways to connect as fellow human beings, we are finding ways to disconnect/emphasise the ways in which we are different. As a whole it’s a great idea 2 to everybody is equal no matter their race religion Creed or background. However social psychologists who have conducted research have always found that human behaviour tends to divide people into us and them groups. Instead of focusing on our similarities we highlight our differences and this can create animosity rather than a sense of togetherness.

The concept of Group Think

The “us vs them” mentality stems from our evolutionary need to belong to a group. Studies have shown that group mentalities can lead two irrational group favoritism, which ends up dividing Society instead of bringing us together.

The human mind has the tendency to categorize people into social groups. British social psychologist, Henri Tajfel, explored a phenomenon called the minimal group paradigm. The basic idea behind this concept was to investigate the minimal conditions required for discrimination to occur within groups.

Amazingly, studies on the surprise show that people tend to favour a group bias even when they are categorised on relatively meaningless distinctions, for example eye colour, what paintings are like what even the flip of a coin.

It shows us but everyone is susceptible to be a perpetrator and/or victims of social Prejudice and ostracism. The big problem with group think is that it changes people’s mindset as well as their perceptions of other groups.

People in a group are more willing to see their group “win” than have outcomes where all people end up better overall.

Ultimately, this means that the more groups we have in society the more conflict there will be because, as human beings, we seem unable to collaborate as one entire group. Only if aliens came down from another planet/outer space would we perhaps learn to see ourselves as all being on the same team.

How our fragile ego is maintained

Social media creates competition and our inherent insecurities at not being good enough are triggered regularly by comparisons that we are faced with. A fragile ego requires external validation to be comforted.

Self-help gurus tell individuals that they are “amazing” and that they can do whatever they wish as long as their beliefs are correct and they work hard. This simplistic approach heightens insecurities when many are unable to reach this promised state of Nirvana. Individuals believe that anything is possible and when they cannot achieve their dreams, they assume that it must be because they are not good enough.

Roles are no longer clearly defined and everything is up for negotiation. Traditional family structures in society are being dismantled, leaving many with a loss of identity, unsure of who they really are or what they really want. It’s no wonder that so many people possess a fragile ego that is so influenced by external forces.

Relationships have become commoditized through online dating. Social dating norms of yesteryear have disappeared and we are faced with a completely different playing field now.  There is no responsibility taken for other people’s feelings and this has caused the fragile ego to retreat. People are ghosted, ignored and it’s become harder to gain commitment from others. Too much choice, as mentioned earlier in this post, leads to  a lack of commitment due to the fear of missing out. The fragile ego has to deal with a whole lot of uncertainty in the world. Relationship psychologist, Esther Perel coined the term “stable ambiguity”. Individuals want love but they also want to keep their options open.

How to fortify your sense of self/bolster your fragile ego

Stay grounded by living according to your values. When you have a clear idea of what is important to you and you include these values in your life,  you will feel a sense of purpose. You will also know that you are externalising your inner desires and this leads to inner fulfillment.

Set yourself goals in line with your values

That is all the foundation from which we can go forth and plan our lives. If one of your values is friendship and family, is that your life includes is aspects. Spending time on a deserted Island would not bring you happiness. Instead it would leave you questioning what makes you really happy.

Stay true to your essential self rather than your social self

Your essential self is who you were born to be- who you were before your parents and other authoritative figures began telling you how to be. ” Put that down, say please and thank you, you don’t do that do this etc” All of these ‘conditioning’ rules begin to change you. Your essential self gets overruled by your social self and as a result we often forget about our natural inclinations. Rediscover your innate talents. Ask yourself what you really enjoyed doing as a child – that was your essential self.

Live a life that’s inside out and not outside in

Learn to validate yourself instead of needing external validation to feel good enough. We all need others and their feedback can be valuable. However, it should never be your main source of validation. Needing external validation is a precarious way to feel good about yourself. Learn self-compassion and always talk to yourself in the same way as you would talk to someone you really cared about. You owe it to yourself. If you don’t, who will? This is non-negotiable.

Nurture your self-belief

The world is constantly challenging the way we see ourselves. It can be so easy to criticize ourselves and feel unworthy. It’s also the worst thing you can do to yourself. Learn to trust yourself by seeking less reassurance from others. Be independent and make decisions on your own. See life is an experiment and be brave. The more you avoid, the scarier life will seem. Learn to count on yourself more.

Live by your own rules

Choose your own rules for living. We base our views on the world according to our core beliefs. Your core beliefs emerge from your experiences in life. They are also formed by the early messages we received from adults in our lives. Ensure that you are fully aware of the core beliefs that you live by. Are they working for you and do they support you? If your core beliefs make you feel that you want good enough, they certainly need updating. Sometimes earlier messages are distorted or incorrect we can update our core beliefs and our rules for living anytime we want.

Rules for living

Rules for living take the form of ” if this…then that”. For example: If I don’t please others nobody will like me; if I don’t look perfect I will never find love; if I don’t take the perfect selfie and I am not good enough etc

The above rules for living will create a fragile ego. Instead replace your core beliefs and your subsequent rules for living with more positive statements such as:  If I take more risks in life I will be more adept at coping with whatever comes my way; if I am true to myself, somebody will love me for the real me; being a genuine person will bring genuine people into my life etc

What is your life script? Make sure it nurtures you and opens up possibilities for you to self-actualise.

Spend time with people who love you and care for you

Your fragile ego needs you. You can give yourself pep talks. They are just as valid as the opinions of others. We are social creatures however and spending time with people who care about us can leave us feeling nourished and cherished. True connections don’t judge you. They are there for you you when you feel abandoned by the rest of the world. Show up for yourself as well.

Never let others abuse you and don’t allow them to make you feel bad about yourself. Remember the you are not defined by your appearance, your skin colour, your upbringing, your socioeconomic status or your job.

What really matters is what is in your soul. Who are you inside? Are you kind and tolerant? What are your likes and dislikes? How do you enjoy spending your free time? What brings you contentment and peace of mind? Answering these questions defines the essence of you. Know yourself well and you’re fragile ego will be robust and steady. Never apologise for who you are and always be your number one fan.

Mandy X

Photo by mariel reiser on Unsplash

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