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The True Self: Identity At War With Ego

Being from one of the poorest and most violent neighborhoods in MN led me to develop a mentality that was as destructive as my environment.

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Background of the Revalation

Through a violent and tumultuous childhood both in and outside of the home, my psyche was subjected to a veritable cocktail of mental illness and pathological developments. It wasn't until late in life that I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, ADD, and ultimately BPD and PTSD. After I started proactively seeking treatments for my mental malfeasance and maintaining constant vigilance to combat them, my mind started clearing it's vision and was able to recognize the antecedent state it was in as well as the root causes that kept it there. Internalized self deprecation from constant criticism and degradation along with perennial feelings of inferiority became the pretext for an ego that grew so large, it obstructed the view of the destruction it left in it's wake. Only after hitting a humiliating and defenseless bottom, was I left with no choice but to swallow my pride and admit that my ego had become the defining characteristic of everything that I was and nothing that I wanted to be. I realized that I had become a product of my environment and that my environment was the product of a society that places the value of some lives over others. Furthermore, in order to maintain this hierarchy, society has systematically robbed certain people of everything that makes up their identity. The following explains a state of mind so pervasive in a people robbed of their identity, that it's pathology has become normalized.

Developing a Sense of Self

By nature, humans are inclined towards self preservation. Our very existence depends on obsequence to the intuition of defending that existence. Essential to our existence is being able to understand who we are as individuals. The ability to differentiate ourselves from everyone else around us at any given time and recognize our own worth in relation to them is part and parcel of understanding our own identity. Society, civilization, and the evolution and expansion of the human genome begins with one individual person's familiarity with themself. This familiarity is the understanding of one's own identity. It's the comprehension of what makes us who we are and why that's valuable. This identity is born and fostered by those with whom we are most closely and inextricably connected. Though not the exclusive determining factor for the development of our identity, those who assume the responsibility of rearing, teaching, and maintaining our welfare are the same ones who inevitably undertake the initiation of our identity. They teach is how to relate to the world through developing, cultivating, and expressing our identity. Our relationship with them becomes the reflection of how we learn to cultivate relationships later on in life. The development of those relationships is influenced, in large part, by the characteristics and personality traits that were nurtured in our most formative years. Those characteristics and personality traits are defined by how they contribute to make the world and thus, our identity becomes more and more concrete. When we become secure in who we are as a person and our contribution to the world, our relatability grows healthy and strong. We do not depend on exogenous influences to reinforce our sense of belonging or security. We are able to withstand scrutiny, accept our shortcomings, and correct our faults because we've learned that they are a part of who we are as a whole but they do not exclusively define or invalidate our worth.

Compensating for Lack of Identity

Contrarily, the ego grows and develops on the basis of compensating for a lack of identity or a secure grounding in it. The ego begins where identity ends. It takes over as a form sustainability. A sort of prevention against perceived self destruction. While the ego is ever present since birth, a lack of security in our identity opens the aperture that allows the ego to take control of how we relate to the world as well as determining what that relatability contributes to it. Demonstrating itself through pride and grandeur, the ego is a defense mechanism for self preservation that engenders self perpetuating feelings of superiority to compensate for an existence that is unsure of itself. The irony of an egocentric existence is that these feelings of superiority still seek out validation from others in order to survive. Those who substantiate the feelings of superiority are kept in close company up until they no longer serve that purpose. This is how they self perpetuate. On the other hand, those who oppose the ego's feelings of superiority are subjected to the ego's defenses and enumerated as illegitimate or inferior in any case thus discrediting said opposition. Further irony lies in the wake of the ego's destruction to the people and environment around it. The absolutist nature of the ego trades the destruction of the health and well being of everyone who invests time and emotion for the preservation of itself and justifies it as preservation for the physical. In itself, the ego is too simple to understand and accept the complexities of human existence. It is unable to differentiate between threats to the physical life and threats to the ego itself. Ergo, the ego interprets any and all onslaughts as a life threat to the whole existence. For this reason, the ego is in a perennial state of tension. Ever vigilant and defensive against attacks to itself, the ego and the ego's host remain in constant fear. Moreover, the bigger the ego gets, the more sensitive it becomes. Higher sensitivity necessitates higher tension for stronger defenses. Thus, the true self cannot experience an authentic life without a constant and conscious attempt to abdicate, or at least attenuate, the ego.