Functional ego?

Everyone has a defense mechanism and for most, just from observation, it seems to be a very innate and often protected sense of ego. I often think about this concept of ego which too often has a negative connotation. What really makes us develop an ‘ego’, what is an ‘ego’, is it critical for high self-esteem or is it a shield we keep close to ourselves in the fear of disappointment and disapproval.

I personally think that an ego is something one develops over time due to circumstances and experience. Of course some might be ‘born with it’, but my for me that is not ego but an extreme sense of self-assurance, which seems to be confused with ego. When I talk about an ‘ego’ it has more to do with the way you interact with others rather than what you think and feel internally.

Can an ego then be meeting someone new and not taking the initiative to start a conversation? Possibly. But then what about shy people. So I guess an ‘ego’ goes beyond interactions with others. If we try to explore deeper, an ‘ego’ can then be the combination of what one is and what he/she wants to be in a social setting. This seems more fitting as in the concept of ‘ego’ there resonates a nuance of contradiction, possibly of the heart and mind.

The relation of heart and mind is something I have been increasingly thinking of and it makes me increasingly uncomfortable. For me this discord of the heart and mind can further be understood, if not solved, through the concept of ‘ego’. Thus, this post.

I often feel that I am a representation of  two very dissimilar shades in a spectrum, which reside in the same lens. It can be exhausting to decode it for myself let alone leave it to others to disseminate. What got me thinking was maybe, just possibly, this could have something to do with not the ‘ego’ but that lack of it.

Often I have been in situations where it is best to not to make the effort, give it another try but there seems to be this push within me to not compare the present to the past or to not treat individuals as standardised and pre-programmed. I seem to be at the point where I might be more wrong that night, but before putting the chapter to a close I just want to intellectually rationalise the scenario and possibilities.

Is it better to keep oneself cautious, closed and safe in the face of the unknown, in the face of a new acquaintance or experience? Do we really lose more than we gain from not having the shield of an ‘ego’? Indeed an ego keeps one’s balance of the heart and mind more in tune as we are less susceptible to disapproval but for me what is most envious and applaud worthy is the ability to strike a balance between knowing how far to go in order to be socially adept but also know where it is best to take a step back.

Often self inflection is charactererized to a greater extent by questions than answers, but it is also this process of questioning that drives one towards self-development and growth rather than answers, certainty and rationality.


Alizeh Atif

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