Learning To Think
The ego is like a close friend with a split personality… they can be selfish and righteous and hurtful, or they can be empathic to others, caring and loving.
The usefulness of your ego depends on what you choose to listen to, and what you choose to ignore, in respect to your inner dialogue.
I don’t know where the ego comes from but I suspect it’s starts when we learn how to THINK.
Yes… HOW we learn to THINK.
Picture Mom and Dad with a 3 year old version of yourself. Picture them talking you through the steps of solving that shapes puzzle.
Picture your small self mimicking everything they say… they taught you how to problem solve by talking it out.
That’s how we all learn… by mimicking others.
Here’s where things get fucking weird… we learn how to solve problems by talking out loud. We first learn to think out loud.
Do you remember starting Grade 1?
Imagine the teacher surrounded by 5 year olds all talking out loud. “This one is red… I’ll use this red crayon.”
As we learn to speak eventually we’re hushed enough times by teachers and parents that we transfer this talking into our heads.
Ever notice that you can’t remember anything before age 3? It’s because you didn’t have words to think with yet… so you weren’t “really” thinking yet.
This is just an idea and I like it.
Here’s what’s important about this idea….
As we learn to use words silently within our own heads we transfer Mom’s voice, Dad’s voice, and angry Grandma’s voice… not just our own.
And some how along the line we gain a sense of self… around the age of 5 we start to realize that we’re all separate people from each other. There’s some pretty spectacular science experiments going on around this idea…
On an interesting side note, many animals pass this same Self-Recognition Mirror Test…
Magpie in a mirror self-recognition test
Why does this matter?
Well, at some point we learn words like “me, “you,” “I,” “us,” “mine,” and “yours.” And if our THINKING is based upon how much language we’ve learned, then perhaps our sense of “self” is also based upon the language we’ve picked up. (Listen to this science podcast called “Voices In Your Head“)
I’m no scientist or physiologist, so please try to get through my ramblings here…
As children we’re basically knowledge sponges… we tend to learn and think how our elders teach us to… including what the “rules” are.
Eventually we learn “right” and “wrong” for our own safety and so that we can fit within the society that we live. Religion also provides a book of “RULES.”
Here are 4 things worth mentioning:
1) We see our elders, religious leaders, and teachers as “the boss.” They are the ultimate “judge” of us. They judge if we’re doing well or not.
2) We learn to do what ever it takes to make “the boss” or “the judge” happy because we learn to get rewarded or punished base upon our actions. If “the judge” likes what we’re doing we get attention and praise. Otherwise we get punished.
3) Eventually the voice of “the judge” transfers into our own heads. So that even when we’re alone we’re in constant watch by an inner voice that’s judging us AND judging others that we interact with. Often religion helps this transfer by making you think that ultimately GOD is watching you and can hear your thoughts.
4) We also develop an inner voice that represents the “victim.” This is the part of you that’s always being judged. If there’s a voice that’s tell you something, this the “you” it’s telling. I like to think of this inner victim as being your true self… and if your “ego” can be defined as your “sense of self” then your ego and your inner victim might just be one in the same.
I suspect only Autistics and Psychopaths don’t develop this Inner Judge the way most of us do… perhaps this Judge is tied closely to Empathy?
Being A Victim
If there’s a part of your brain that acts as the Judge, then whom is he/she actually judging? Another part of you… which we’ll call your inner Victim.
But the Inner Judge has rules… rules you’ve learned from your elders, and which you’ve AGREE’D to… somewhere in your demented head you’ve allowed these rules to get written.
“Don’t cheat. Don’t steal. Don’t hurt others. Don’t lie. Etc.”
The Judge rules the Victim.
Basically you’re constantly judging yourself based upon some rules you learned, going back to when you were three years old!
This idea of RULES and VICTIMS and THE JUDGE was introduced to me by this amazing man: Don Ruiz. Read his books.
The problem is that these RULES aren’t necessarily useful.
“Always be consistent. Don’t upset the status quo. Don’t argue with others. Shut your mouth. Don’t get fat. Don’t talk to strangers. Etc.”
How many “rules” do you still have that no longer serve you, or that you’ve never learned to question?
“Don’t wear flat shoes because they make you look short and fat. Don’t wear tight shirts because they expose your fat gut. Don’t gain weight because others will think you’re ugly. You did poorly in school because you’re a stupid idiot. Your laugh sounds ridiculous… don’t let people hear you laugh.”
How many “rules” did you get from people who were just insulting you?
How many rules did you get based upon your insecurities when you were 12 years old except you STILL believe them!?
Here’s the problem… having rules that are never questioned can hurt you.
We don’t use our own Inner Rules fairly.
How often do you get upset at yourself for making a mistake, but then you can’t let it go and you constantly remind yourself of that same mistake, every day? I would punch my best friend in the mouth if he kept insulting me this way, and yet I know I do this same thing in my own head, to myself!
For some reason we get mad at ourselves when we screw up, and we don’t let it go.
We continue to remind ourselves of our own mistakes, and we continue to judge ourselves over and over again, like an angry friend who can’t forget and won’t forgive.
The JUDGE lives in our heads and it’s fueled by emotional upset, aggression, and feelings of Righteousness.
I Googled that shit and found this definition:
Righteousness: It is an attribute that implies that a person’s actions are justified, and can have the connotation that the person has been “judged” or “reckoned” as leading a life that is pleasing to God.
Here’s where things go horribly wrong…
We feel both our Inner Victim AND our Inner Judge.
So, your inner Judge might say, “Why the fuck did you overeat again dude!? Why can’t you simply control your fat self. Fuck!” … and your inner Judge will feel righteous, and pumped with emotions that make you feel RIGHT or GOOD or JUSTIFIED. Or even just angry.
And feelings of anger feel surprisingly GOOD!
Your blood pumps, your heart pumps, and you might feel adrenaline.
These are powerful emotions! It feels good to feel RIGHT and JUSTIFIED! The Inner Judge feels good because he likes being right, which only happens when he makes you wrong.
But you also feel your Inner Victim saying, “Fuck, I know. Why the shit can’t I control myself. How weak am I? No wonder I’m so over weight… I’m like a baby who can’t control himself…. I’m a loser.”
And now you might feel emotions of regret and sadness.
But even these emotions kinda feel good.
I mean really… how nice does it sometimes feel to just sit alone, eating ice creme, feeling sorry for yourself? Sometimes that’s just awesome! Maybe this is pathetic, but FEELING is still FEELING and it’s addictive.
And so we create these emotional loops… where we judge ourselves for messing up, then we feel sorry for ourselves for messing up, and we constantly do this over and over again. Each time subtly hurting our inner sense of self.
If your Self Esteem is like a photo of yourself that you keep in our pocket, then your Inner Judge is like the Bathroom Graffiti Artist who’s constantly drawing dicks on your forehead.
I’m not sure if our Inner Ego is so bad… perhaps it’s The Rules and the Inner Judge that’s messing us up?
One way to tell if you’re being fooled is to develop enough awareness that you can have perspective on your own inner thoughts and dialogue. If you’re saying some shit, then question it. Perhaps you’re not such a loser… perhaps you’ve been tricked.
Are you measuring your feelings of pride and success based upon how you’re doing in comparison to others? Stop that… everyone else lives different lives with different challenges… it makes no sense to measure yourself against people that don’t have your exact same challenges. This is just a recipe for failure and a life of needing approval and attention.
Are you letting the Judge continue to make the rules while letting others dictate your levels of personal pride and feelings of success?
You’re basically saying, “I’ll feel good about myself when someone else does worse than me.”Can you see how this makes you a victim to the success or failures of others?
Until you learn to have perspective and you take control of your own Inner Rules your Inner Judge will fuck you up. The Inner Judge will falsely inflate your Ego every time someone else does poorly, or every time you do better than someone else. The Judge is all about judging and comparing you to others. This a game that sucks.You’ll always be at the mercy of others.
“I’m a success now that I’ve made $100,000 a year!”
“I’m a fucking loser because I can’t seem to make more than $50,000 a year. Man, I suck!”
“Why can’t I get a hot girlfriend like all my friends seem to be able to? What’s wrong with me!?”
It’s unfair to compare yourself to people and events in the outside world… you have no control over those things, so this makes no sense.
In this scenario you’ll be forced to judge others in order to feel good about yourself.
“Look how fat that fat bastard is! Ha! What a loser!” We say shit like this because we unknowingly feel slightly better about ourselves when we do.
This is a fundamental flaw that will constantly make you feel horrible about yourself!
I don’t know everything… I’m constantly struggling to find ways to be proud of myself while keeping a hold on reality. I don’t want a false sense of pride…. I want real pride.
The Ego isn’t bad in of it’s self. It’s the hurt and damaged Ego that leads people to being hurtful towards others and themselves. The damaged Ego leads to selfishness and a lack of compassion and empathy.
Have you ever burned your skin badly before? Do you remember how sensitive it was to touch and how you’d keep people away to insure nobody accidently bumps it?
Well your emotional body has it’s own skin too, which can be injured or burned. And it’s this type of inner emotional damage that makes us want to keep people away in order to keep ourselves from getting hurt.
It’s a defense mechanism. Your Ego is tied to your emotional body, so if it’s hurt it’ll make you very guarded and sensitive to the opinions of others.
How can we possibly give and love someone else if we have an injured inner self? We can’t because we’ll always keep parts of us guarded and safe from real intimacy and connection.
Think about it… think about what years of “you’re so stupid” might do to your ego. It would make your inner self VERY nervous and sensitive… always watching out for what others are doing or saying for fear of being re-injured.
The Ego has an amazing ability to protect it’s self… it’ll pump you full of adrenaline if someone dares challenge your pride or sense of self. That’s one reason we get so angry when other people call us names or challenge our beliefs. Our Egos fear being challenged or hurt.
But this is childish.
What someone believes about you can’t REALLY hurt you. That’s just their opinion. But we can’t see the world this way if our Egos are hurt. All we can see is pain.
I think a great way to heal your ego is to stop judging yourself, and others, by developing MORE empathy.
When you have real empathy for someone you FEEL the way they do.
We mimic the feelings and emotions of others when we EMPATHIZE with them.
And if you lack empathy?
Then it’s EASY to hurt others. Think… serial killers!
Empathy prevents us from hurting others… and ultimately from hurting ourselves!
Develop empathy and compassion for others and you’ll automatically care more for yourself, thereby healing your own Inner Victim. You’ll develop feelings of well being and love instead of nervousness and anxiousness.
I think this is one powerful tool of the Church… when they promote this idea that God doesn’t judge… and that He’s within all of us… it helps us feel “forgiven” and loved, and hopefully love for others. If our inner voice is really part of God, and he doesn’t Judge, then perhaps we can feel safe within ourselves through religion.
I’m fine with that, as long as it makes you happy and caring for others.
Just be wary of the other aspect of religion that fools you into thinking you’re being JUDGED by God, and that you’ll end up in some type of hell should you make any mistakes… because this leads back to the sufferings we’re trying to escape from! This type of crap is what leads back to self hatred and the judgements of others, etc…
So I’m wondering… how can we develop a HEALTHY EGO without being selfish, or pompous? How can we develop more empathy for others?
When I was going through my divorce many years ago I learned something from Dr. Phil. He said, “We judge others the way we judge ourselves.”
So a GREAT way to get perspective on how you judge yourself (because we mostly don’t know we’re doing it) is to pay attention to how you judge others.
The FASTEST way to stop judging yourself is to learn how to STOP JUDGING OTHERS.
1) Acknowledge Every Time You Judge Someone Else.
I’ve made a game of this.. everytime I find myself judging someone else I laugh and say, “There…. now… do you feel better about yourself Robby? Huh? Was mocking that nice old man really necessary?”
I do this out loud with my friends and sometimes it annoys them. As soon as I’m done calling some terrible driver “an idiot!” I stop and say… “There, now I feel better about myself because I just called some perfect stranger an idiot.” Which then makes me feel silly for doing it PLUS it makes my friends laugh.
All which helps me realize when I’m doing it.
2) Stop Judging Others With Friends.
This is mostly gossip. Gossip is our way of social bonding by judging others. It makes us feel righteous, which is a false way of feeling good about ourselves.
Mostly I just don’t engage in gossip when I can catch myself doing it. I try to say things like, “I’m trying to stop myself from judging others as a way of learning how to not judge myself. The reality is that I don’t know that guy’s life and what made him do or say those stupid things… so I’m not going to make assumptions about him because I’ve done to many stupid things myself. I can’t judge him.”
If you must talk about others then try to find ways of complimenting what other people are doing, especially when they’re doing things you appreciate.
3) Challenge Your Inner Rules
Learn to say no… to yourself and to others.
Saying NO makes your brain stop and think. It makes others realize they don’t have easy control over you.
NO is a magic word that empowers you to make NEW decisions.
The reason our inner beliefs are so deeply ingrained is because we don’t take the time to challenge them. Starting with a “NO” will make you challenge yourself a little more, and hopefully challenge others as well.
For example, when someone cuts me off in traffic and it makes me upset I might think, “Fucking asshole! Learn how to drive!”
If I catch myself thinking this then I might say something silly to counter the initial negative response, “Ha! That guys is Just Getting It Done, Son!”
Almost like I’m appreciating that he’s focused on getting somewhere fast.
I also realize that I don’t know his life… perhaps he honestly didn’t see me in his lane. Perhaps his dad beat him growing up and his entire life sucks. I don’t know, so who am I to judge him?
Then I try to find out why I would be mad to begin with. I look at my random thoughts and these are the types of things that pop up:
“I’m trying to get home and I’m in a hurry and this asshole is slowing me down. What if he hit my car! This thing cost me a fortune and now some idiot is going to smash into me!? And I bet he wouldn’t even car in that piece of this he’s driving. What if he totally my truck just because he’s an idiot too wrapped up in his idiot thoughts to even notice me driving in this lane. Fuck that pisses me off. ”
Mostly this garbage thinking is just assumptions and make-believe that’s ultimate goal is to simply fire up my feelings of righteousness. I want to feel right.
Somewhere in that mess is some rule I’ve made without realizing it. The rule turns out to be this: “My time is important, and my things are important, and when someone threatens my time or my things I should get upset.”
It took me a while to figure out that silly rule, but there it is.
I like that rule because it makes me feel RIGHT. But ultimately this rule make me more important than others, and makes my “things” more important too. And that’s kinda selfish when I think about it. There’s no empathy for others in that belief… it’s all about me.
This rule comes from a place of selfishness, which makes it a Red Flag. It’s likely hurting me more than it’s helping me.
Ask yourself this… “does this rule hurt me, or help me? Does it hurt others, or does it help others?”
Seriously question any rules you have that hurts you or others!
Realize that comparisons are still judgements. Life isn’t about being BETTER than others… only compare yourself to yourself.
So how does Ego make someone shy or scared of women?
The injured or insecure Ego doesn’t want to be challenged. He doesn’t want to face up to reality… he prefers sitting in the back row where it’s safe to judge others and to make ridiculous statements to boost his self esteem.
So the Ego doesn’t want us dudes to start talking to beautiful strange women because these women might think we’re stupid…. they might reject us, or laugh at us, or embarrass us, or call us creepy.
The injured Ego would feel great pain if this happens.
And so we make excuses… we speak quietly. We act “shy” based on how healthy our Ego’s are.
You see… the healthy Ego, or healthy self esteem, is build upon a rock solid foundation of inner beliefs and experiences.
If your beliefs are based upon facts like, “I help my friend when they are in need. I care and love my family and I show it all the time. I said I’d become teacher/doctor/plumber and I did! I’m proud of myself. This beautiful woman has the cutest eyes! I’m going to chat with her to find out if she’s as fun as she is cute…” then your beliefs are not questionable. You’re not judging others or making comparisons. Your beliefs are based on internal ideas, not external opinions. They are based on facts you can rely upon. Therefore you’re not worried about someone walking up to you and calling you lazy or stupid or ugly. Because they don’t know the facts… they just have opinions.
BUT if your beliefs are based upon external factors you can’t control, then you’re in trouble… beliefs like these are not rock solid and are easy to question: “Women are idiots. I”m a man therefore I have every right to take what I want and say what I like. I know this because my dad told me so, or my religion tells me so. I make $100,000 a year so I’m very important… much more important that this hot slut I’m about to talk to.” It’s a sad state of affairs when you can only feel good about yourself by putting other people down.
Plus, it’s not hard to meet someone who’s smarter, faster, fitter, more beautiful, or who makes more money than you. Then what? Then your beliefs have just made you a loser because some random person is “better” than you.
It’s the sensitivity of the Ego that prevents guys from being more social, from telling the truth, from sharing intimate secrets with friends and lovers, and keeps guys from approach beautiful strange women at the grocery store.
What kind of bullshit is that?!
Imagine being able to walk up to a beautiful women feeling calm and maybe even slightly excited and happy? Instead of nervous and worried?
It the well being of your Ego (based upon how you judge/hurt/love yourself) that makesyou nervous and worried or excited and confident.
Punch your Inner Judge in the fucking face and tell it to shut the fuck up. You’re busy getting it done and you don’t have time for that kinda shit.
Internal vs. External Locus of Control
Once the Inner Judge starts getting ignored, and the Ego gets a chance to heal, you will find that your personality has room to stretch and express itself more honestly. This is what will draw the most girls to you.
And, seriously, this blog is all about “gettin’ the ladies”(*creepy voice here*)
Women have a way of knowing if you’re acting on your ego, or if you’re more raw and vulnerable.
The guy who’s wasting her time talking about his job and new car? Boring and gross with a fucked up Ego.
The nervous guy who’s kinda cute and who’s listening to what she’s saying? He seems kinda vulnerable but brave with a healthy Ego.
And, for some reason, we’re all drawn towards people who are more vulnerable and brave. That’s why it’s okay to be nervous and vulnerable when approaching a woman… because it shows her that you’re nervous but that you’re willing to risk rejection in order to get what you really want… her. The key is to accept being nervous, instead of fighting it. It’s the fight that makes you seem creepy, while accepting that you’re nervous makes you seem “real” or more sincere.
And sincerity and courage are attractive.
Here’s another benefit to ignoring your bruised ego, or your Inner Judge – your personality comes out because it’s no longer being hidden behind your shy guarded excuses.
And one fast way to develop your personality (and character) is to slowly start talking with MORE people. I sound like a broken record here… but seriously… being more social is KEY to making you a better man.
Becoming social will kill your shyness and will teach others that you’re an awesome dude.
When we’re shy it’s because we’re worried about what others will think of us… it’s our injured egos fighting NOT be challenged by what others think and say.
Once trick of the Judge is to make you believe that what others think of you is REALLY important.
This is false.
This is your inner child desperately wanting Mom and Dad to approve, and therefore needing EVERYONE to approve. But let that child go.
Being a man is about approving of yourself first!
So the more you build your character (by making decisions in your life based on what YOU think of YOU) the less you’ll care about what others think of you.
And slowly, when you feel comfortable, start making small talk with those around you.
Pay Attention To Others
Pay attention to how other people move and act when interacting.
People watching can teach you EVERYTHING.
Next time you see a nerdy guy look at his clothes, his posture and his body movements. Them make sure you NEVER replicate them in yourself. These are expressions of low self esteem usually and will tell other people you’re weak and unsure. This is unattractive. Notice how quick Cochran, on this season of survivor, almost got tossed first? His problem isn’t that he’s a geek, it’s that his body language screams “I’m unsure and therefore you can’t trust me.”
Watch guys who have hot girlfriends. Watch how they move and how they talk. Then mimic it to see how it feels. See how they stand and walk and talk and try it for yourself.
I did this by learning to ask people for the time when in line at the grocery store. I grew some awareness of my posture, my body language, the strength of my voice when I spoke… and it helped me learn how to stand, make good eye contact, and how to chat with strangers.
You’ll notice the more comfortable someone is the more space they take up when they stand and sit and talk. They take up room with their arms and legs. And when they chat with people they lean away, relaxed.
Insecure people tend to lean in and hold too much eye contact.
Watch Ryan Gosling
Make Small Talk
Why are highschool jocks so good with women? They spend many years socializing in clubs with friends and family. They learn how to make small talk, which leads to being comfortable meeting people.
So start small if you’re shy. Learn how to comfortably ask people for the time.
Start to ask the clerk how her day was, and the guy stocking the shelves if he could recommend a good cut of meat at the deli.
Just engage people for any reason until it’s natural. This might take days, weeks, months or years. Just DO IT.
Get Good At Listening
Being a good listener will make you strong socializer.
People like being heard, so if you’re shy at first learn how to engage people, then step back and let them chat.
Other people’s Ego’s will LOVE being heard. They WANT to feel important. So let that be your gift to them. Let them feel important. It’s small, it’s nice, and it feels good watching other peoples eyes light up when they’re the focus of the conversation.
Let your ego fade away while others expand. It’s okay to let others be important. You’ll have your turn eventually.
Try chatting with strangers and make this a life habit.
Within weeks you’ll start to feel better about people and you’ll be proud of yourself for trying something challenging and new.
And when that hot girl sits next to you in class or on the buss you’ll have the experience under your belt to lean over and start a quick conversation with her… “Hey, don’t I know you from social studies? Did you study for today’s test?”
Or, “Hey, Sally, do you know the difference between a sweet potato and a yam?! Are they the same thing? I’m so confused by these damn vegetables!”
Stop judging and start listening and you’ll find that “being shy” will turn into “being excited to meet new people.”
P.S. Here’s a fun example of playful banter and physical escalation: