Learning to understand the human ego is one of the most powerful ways you can learn more about yourself and gain a greater understanding of others.
Our ego is our perception of ourselves and how we are seen by the outside world. Everyone has an ego; it is a natural facet of our humanity. What we invest our egos into has major implications on the way that we act, what we believe, and how we respond to adversity such as criticism, insults, and failure.
When the ego is discussed by a layperson, the opinion often expressed is that “having an ego”, and/or investing one’s ego into a given belief or outcome, is either good or bad. The argument is often made that one should or shouldn’t heavily invest themselves into an outcome or belief for various reasons. Conversely, the expressions “go big or go home” and put “100% into what you do,” are often used as well.
Like many things, the concept of ego often gets misrepresented. When referring to the “ego” people are often referring to someone’s ego investment into a belief or set of beliefs, or they may say that someone has a “big” ego, which is a high belief in a person’s self-worth typically combined with a personality trait such as arrogance or cockiness. These references may be similar to the definition of the ego, but they are not referring to what the ego actually is.
Understanding how and where to invest your ego will give you a better control over your emotions and judgment. Additionally, it will give you a lot of insight into how other people behave, and how their egos are invested. This article will discuss the ego and how you can use your understanding of it to gain more control over yourself and ultimately a greater understanding of the world around you.
A Brief Primer on the Ego
Even many of those who are not well versed in psychology are fairly familiar with Freud’s theory of the id, ego, and the superego. According to Freud, the id is one’s most basic urges, the ego negotiates the id’s desires with the outside world, and the superego is one’s drive for moralistic and idealistic standards. Freud’s theory has received a ton of criticism and critique, as any ground-breaking theory should, and his theories are far from perfect, but his ideas and model of the psyche drove psychologists into a much greater study and evolution of his ideas. Despite that many of his ideas were wrong, people take his correct ideas for granted because they’ve become so accepted in modern culture.
In addition to providing your identity and place in the world, the ego serves as a barrier guarding against people’s psyches. If you are a notably masculine man who gets insulted by a feminist on the street, your ego is largely responsible for rationalizing her attack on you by saying that she doesn’t matter, she is jealous of your masculinity, and so forth. While her verbal attacks may be annoying, they affect your emotions less when you develop this type of mental model. Your ego may very well be correct; she is likely attacking you out of jealousy, hatred, or a litany of other reasons stemming from a hostility toward traditional masculinity, as feminists typically do.
It is also worth noting that the ego largely stems from one’s personal experiences. These experiences extend from a person’s personal beliefs and their model of socialization to subjects such as their political beliefs. During the election, feminists and Social Justice Warriors identified closely with Hillary Clinton and her beliefs, while more traditional men identified with Donald Trump. To politicians, this identity proves to be more reliable than the knowledge of (and the cognitive dissonance and/or denial stemming from) the many crimes that Clinton committed in her political career.
Additionally, the ego has numerous defense mechanisms when it is attacked. Those who are reasonably well versed can identify these defense mechanisms when they are being used. The above link is recommended reading; it’s absolutely worth noting that some of the listed defense mechanisms such as sublimation and compensation are considered healthy and mature, and some defense mechanisms, such as denial, projection, and rejection, are considered primitive and unhealthy. Ask yourself what kind of people you’ve seen use these defense mechanisms, and what kind of defense mechanisms you typically see leftists using.
Many discuss the implications of investing your ego into an outcome or a belief; also known as ego investment. There are often many opinions expressed into how one should invest their ego.
Some say that investing an ego into a belief or outcome is bad because it will cloud your perspective and rationality towards a given circumstance or criticism. If you are learning how to become a musician, for instance, and you receive a ton of criticism over your latest piece, many say that your ego investment will make it challenging for you to accept the criticism and respond positively. This is absolutely true in many cases, but it largely depends on multiple personality characteristics of the individual, particularly their level of openness, along with other factors such as their tenacity and ability to push forward in the face of failure.
Conversely, some say that investing an ego into an outcome is good because it will drive you toward success. If you put your heart and soul into an outcome, you will be more likely to succeed, and often, but not always, you will be more motivated to rebound when you fail.
If you invest your ego into being a man who is successful and good with women, for instance, then you will be more likely to put a lot of time into this pursuit, and you will likely act when someone challenges this belief. You have to be reasonably successful and good with women in order for it to make sense for you to invest your ego in such a manner (although as a whole, the ego does not have to correlate with reality). It’s good to put a sense of pride into something worth being proud of, but one must remember in this case not to let their self-worth become dictated solely by women or anything else that they invest their ego into.
Generally speaking, I often advise against zero-sum statements. Few aspects of the world are truly black and white. Many things that people turn into zero-sum statements, in reality, have pros and cons. An ego investment into a given belief is much the same way; it depends on the circumstance and it depends on the person’s personality characteristics.
Disadvantages of Ego Investment
One of the hardest things is making a rational decision where you're highly invested emotionally. It becomes an ultimate test of your will.
— The Maverick Mindset (@MavTraveler) April 28, 2017
A well-stated quote.
As noted, for many people it is challenging to view results rationally if they cloud their beliefs by investing them too deeply into their ego. One must always be open minded to change and criticism. For many, this proves to be very difficult.
If you cannot see things objectively, your response to criticism will be less rational and constructive. A rational man responds to failure by paying attention to his competition, listening to constructive criticism, and improving what needs to be improved. A man heavily invested into a belief or process very often, but not always, responds to failure through various ego defense mechanisms, as opposed to accepting his failures and making the necessary changes.
If you believe that you must be seen a certain way, or that you are damn near the best at something, then you will typically fight tooth-and-nail to maintain that perception, even when there is evidence to the contrary. There can be multiple issues with this.
Number one is that it causes cognitive dissonance or other forms of ego defense; where you see one set of information that contradicts your already established beliefs. If your ego is invested in a set of beliefs, such as your political beliefs or your blue-pill beliefs about women, and there is a plethora of direct evidence that you are wrong, it becomes a serious issue when you are able to accept the facts against your beliefs.
Number two is the simple fact that you cannot possibly be right about everything. Even when we believe that we are rational creatures, we are not nearly as rational as we think. Therefore, it’s important to open our minds up to every fact, including those that may contradict our beliefs.
Ego investment into the wrong beliefs can also be a serious issue. Those who have an inadequate belief system typically invest their ego too deeply into their current state and beliefs. Convincing them that they can change is often the biggest hurdle to get them off of their ass. One who is too invested into who they currently are today, and who thinks they cannot improve in any meaningful way, often needs to get an initial kick in the ass to change their mindset to get started. This is why many men don’t become red-pilled until they hit rock bottom with their life and/or relationship.
Advantages of Ego Investment
None of the above pitfalls are inevitable, however. Despite the potential downsides, there are advantages for those who invest their ego into what they do. An ego investment into the right cause can cause you to become more successful in what you put your time into, as a byproduct of putting more effort and emotional investment into it.
Some even say you should take losses personally because it will drive you to come back harder the second time and succeed. Like many things, this depends on the personality characteristics of the individual.
Additionally, having a noticeable ego investment can significantly enhance your brand or image. Think of some of the most memorable entertainers and athletes that you know of. The ones with the larger than life egos are among the most memorable, entertaining, attention-grabbing, and rich. Think of big names like The Rock, Connor McGregor, and Muhammed Ali.
Whether or not a person’s ego is fully behind what they claim to be behind is often another story. Some people are great at playing the character, but in private, their behavior is very different. Regardless, they command attention in public. This is because of legitimate talent along with their ability to entertain, and because of people’s tendency to love a larger-than-life figure.
Moreover, if you want to become the authority on a given subject, there is generally a strong degree of ego investment required; at least in the eyes of the public. There is also a certain admiration and respect for those who publicly put out their feelings regarding a subject or passion.
Men who act overconfident often benefit immensely with women as well. Just don’t let your overconfidence blind you to rationality in situations where it matters, or else you are doing yourself a disservice.
How Does This All Apply to You?
It is wise to understand the pros and cons of investing your ego into a given outcome. An ego investment may occur because you want to be seen as good at something, or because you have become so good at something that you now want others to recognize it and because it increases your own self-worth. It can occur consciously, but it often occurs unconsciously, largely as a defense mechanism to external psyches.
You should believe that you are better than others, but it should come from a sense of actual achievement and rationality. “Faking it until you make it” only lasts so long. You are not better than others at everything you can possibly do, but you believe that you are the complete (or near-complete) package who is capable of being great at many things. Living the lifestyle of a complete man will facilitate you in achieving this mindset.
You should believe that you deserve the most out of life. You are successful because you work your ass off and have seen real results, and because you can live and learn from your victories and mistakes. If this isn’t true, make it true.
Invest into being great in the long run. Each trial is an individual test, and although these trials are very important, they are not the end-all-be-all of how good you will ultimately be at something. There generally are exceptions to this rule, such as an MMA fighter going after a one-shot-only championship match, but the buildup to that fight is largely a matter of where they can get their skill level at the moment, as opposed to what their record is. That is, fighters who have taken a lot of losses initially can come out stronger and better many years down the road.
On the flip side, an author’s first or second book doing very poorly isn’t going to make or break them in the long run, in today’s publishing atmosphere, at least. Rather, the journey and the lessons learned from having two shitty books should give them appropriate feedback and guide them to write a damn good third book and beyond.
You should always be open minded to change and improvement because the world is constantly changing and adapting. Investing your ego into beliefs to the point where you cannot change them in the face of evidence, as blue pill men often do, is one of the most foolish things a man can do. Always keep yourself open-minded to new information and hard facts.
You should have an abundance mentality towards the world. You don’t limit yourself to the belief that you should be only making a small amount of money, or lift a certain amount in the gym, or that there are very few girls that are suitable for you. Set your goals high as hell, and even if you miss them, you will still end up much better off than you did if you set them low.
Do not invest your ego into things that you have little control over (i.e. blindly supporting someone without realizing that he’s inevitably going to do things you disagree with), or getting caught in one-thing-versus-another without good reason (for example, I see people putting their ego behind arguing over one cryptocurrency versus another) and things that can be disproven and changed easily that are out of your control. Publicly, this may not cause you much more pain than just some embarrassment, but it is silly nonetheless, and it will steer you into a short-sighted way of thinking.
Remember that if anything, it’s best to be seen as too strong or too arrogant as opposed to too unapologetic or weak. Once again, however, you cannot let this perception cloud yourself from seeing facts for what they are.
Moreover, if you are a complete man with a sense of true self-confidence, you can take some hits to your ego. Have you ever seen how the most seasoned playboys are often among the most secure men on the planet? This is because they know that even if they are publicly shamed, or proven wrong in an argument or debate, they have still slain tons of pussy. Their ego is unaffected by a hiccup or what a few people think of them. This may not be true of all players, but I know a handful who this can be said about. Complete men can take a hit to their ego without lashing out with a childish ego defense mechanism.
A greater understanding of the human ego is critical for understanding yourself and others. This understanding allows you to defend yourself from personal attacks, manipulate others, and much more.
The biggest takeaway from this article is that you should not invest your ego so deeply into your beliefs that you cannot see the need for change. The world is constantly adapting, and one must always be ready to adapt to it to keep ahead. Keep in mind that there are certain advantages to ego investment, but you must never blind yourself to facts.