Keeping a Balanced Ego: Detachment

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What I Mean by Ego

The word “Ego” can often differ in meaning to different people, for the purpose of this publication here is what I’m defining ego as (There is probably a better word to use but it escapes me at the moment.

I’m defining ego as: An individuals general state of mind in terms of emotion and functionality. Think of it like this, your ego is negatively effected if you are depressed which lowers your functionality in life, you won’t do much of anything because of your low morale.

Anyhow, let’s continue.

Detachment?

This word has connotations of being negative, as in being detached from someone you love, a treasured possession or even detachment from the parents leading to behavioural defects in Psychology. Regardless of the situation or use of the word Detachment, it gets some bad rep when it’s used. But what if I told you it’s a very helpful tool in your goal of keeping a healthy ego about you?

Here’s why, remaining detached to a healthy degree from other people’s thoughts and opinions means you can more easily keep your mental attitude and integrity focused on what you do. Say you’re a writer like me who posts their content for all to see, to scrutinise, to compliment and to critique. Although my articles don’t get hundreds of views per day, I get positive comments, negative ones, constructive criticism and I expect negative criticism one day as well. How should I approach each and every comment? I need to stay detached, at arm’s length whether they are good or bad.

If I read hater comments, I can think to myself that it sucks that my writing hasn’t affected that person in the way I wanted, but oh well, I’m a writer, I’m gonna keep writing for everyone and myself. On the other end of the spectrum, with a positive comment, I’ll think to myself that its great someone likes what I’ve worked to make my thoughts available, but that’s it, nothing else. Too much negative thoughts will bring the ego down and affect my writing and everything else I do, by the same token, my ego will get too high if I take in all the positivity, a balance has to be kept.

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Whatever you do, at work, in free time or any everyday activity, you should be maintaining a healthy level of detachment so that you can take in the good things of every critique of your work, but not enough to affect everything else in your life by unbalancing your ego.

Effects of an Unbalanced Ego

Being imbalanced in this way means (in my experience) that you will either become too sensitive or too arrogant.

postive_negativeBeing too sensitive by letting negative thoughts get the better of you will affect everything you do. You’ll be less inclined to express yourself fully, less inclined to get outside views on a subject or your work as you think you’ll be harshly judged and your general day today mood will suffer. You may even start disliking yourself as a person as you focus on all the negative in your life in whatever you do.

Being too arrogant means that you let the positive thoughts inflate your ego to the point of thinking everything you do or say is completely right, having no need to be critiqued. This also means you’ll be much more defensive of being criticised. People like this are often close-minded, not wanting to take any outside influence. Others may even start to dislike you for your craving for an ego-rub.

To get out of these self-destructive cycles, you must practice being detached until you are just that with everything you read. Being detached lets you look at everything objectively and logically, rather than with blind emotion.

The next time you come across any comment on you, your work, your art, anything, say this to yourself: “Wow that’s great that someone complimented my work, I’m glad what I did could help them in some way, but I’ll just keep doing what I’ve been doing regardless”. If it’s a negative comment, try: “Well that sucks that you feel that way about my work, but oh well, I’ll keep on doing what I do”. It’s not easy, it takes time to really mean it, but trying is the first step which will ultimately lead to a healthy detachment from comments and criticism, being neutral is the key.

By all means take something away from constructive criticism and use it to your advantage, it’s not meant to cause negativity, but help promote something positive. This sort of thinking will help promote a healthy ego in one’s self and your outlook on life need not be so black or white, good or bad.

With all I’ve just said, I hope this has helped you in some way or another, but if it hasn’t, I’ll still be writing and publishing here regardless. 😉

 

– Jamie