Tuesday, August 9, 2011
The Ego Makes Sure The Joke's On Me
The ego is --surprise!--egotistical. It's all about me. The ego, that selfish part of us, hates two things: exposure and change.
The ego will resort to any means to avoid being found out. It will minimize--"It's not as though I robbed a dozen banks; it was just one." It will rationalize--"I needed the money more than the bank did." It will deny--"what bank?"
It will do anything but tell or face the truth because that then would necessitate change. We will cling to what's familiar even though it's killing us and we'll act like it's just another day in paradise. "I'm in the dance band on the Titanic, singing Nearer My God to Thee." The ego thrives on equilibrium; the current status quo may be as dysfunctional as a Big Brother episode, but it's predictable, though possibly lethal.
Decades ago, I was a therapist in a rural county mental health clinic. An adolescent male whom I'll call Sherwin Williams was a substance abuser. Sherwin was into huffing spray paint. One day he showed up for his appointment, walking into my office as nonchalant and ho-hum as could be. He had a large circle of paint around his nose and mouth; walking in naked wouldn't have made him look any more conspicuous. I asked him how he was doing. "Fine." I asked him if he had been huffing lately. "Nope. I'm clean."
Are you kidding me? How stupid do I look? His ego was so entrenched in denial that what was obvious to anyone else was not even factored into the equation. I still shake my head in disbelief when I think of Sherwin.
But then there are those occasions when I look in the mirror--when I am honest with and about myself--and I can't believe it. There's paint all over my face.
Don't worry about me, though. Like Sherwin, I'm fine. I just need to stay away from mirrors.