Pondering the urge to be egotistical

‘What about me!’

Ever wanted to shout that? Or at least whisper it so no one will quite hear?

For most of us, that urge pops up from time to time. Perhaps when we’re feeling low in the middle of the night. Or feeling low in the middle of someone else getting praised…

So, perfectly normal –

But what to do?

Ignore it?
Usually the urge just comes back sometime soon and you have the same problem.

Repress it thoroughly?
It comes back but in sneaky and unforeseen ways.

Avoid doing anything that might make people think you’re egotistical, even if you’re not?
Hmmm. It’ll still come, but you will have wasted your talents in the meantime. Still, kudos for an attempt at noble (but ineffective) self-sacrifice.

I recommend
not those ways but this way: welcome the urge and study it. Give yourself a private space to play with it. Amplify it and let it manifest in the world in a way that gives you and that urge a chance to get to know each other. Be friendly. Be creative. Have fun.

In the end that egotistical urge will transform. Because if you practise enough, everything transforms into something more useful, into something less likely to trigger your suffering, or others’ suffering. Exactly what it transforms into for you is part of the great unknown.

We might think about the reasons for doing this kind of transformation work. We might say it’s because, underneath, we are all great people with wonderful stuff to offer the world and we don’t help anyone if we hold back through a (false) fear of being seen as egotistical. And that’s true.

But there’s another reason beyond that.

I invite you to pause a moment, take a breath or two, and then read this poem to check out a suggestion. Maybe you’ll agree.

‘Look at me!’

Fear of being seen as egoic
can make us run away
from our talents, our life, our obligations.

We can lock our ego safely in a box.
But in that sacrificial prison we also lock up
our songs and our poems
and the wings
that we need to spread in order to soar.

From a dead space comes death, mostly.

Only if we know how our self inflates
can we know how to let ourselves
expand with love for all.

Only if we know how we sing our own praises
can we know how to compose hymns
to the glory of all that is.

Only if we know how we say ‘Look at me’
can we know how to say
‘Look at all this, and rejoice.’

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