Edit: I feel I should preface this with: this is basically a long description of a bunch of my problems dealing with a sensitive ego and how it links in with IDMf. I fully expect that most of you aren’t interested in reading this, but I do want to promote discussion on the topic surrounding dealing with the ego, so if you have something to contribute, please do so without reading any more of this post.
There’s been something on my mind that I’d like to make a post about, really for no other reason than to write about it and maybe start an interesting discussion. Maybe this isn’t the best place for it, I don’t know, but it’s a common part of the human experience, so we’re all experts in our own way.
(So please do share your experiences and the wisdom you have to impart!)
(Disclaimer: I switch between speaking relative to “me”, “i”, and “you”, but when I say “you” that doesn’t mean that I’m saying you the dear reader should do what I’m saying. Not at all. I’m not a psychologist and I have no fucking idea what I’m talking about, really.)
This is, in a way, an admission of guilt, and a statement of action, past and ever-present, and simultaneously, a way for me to organise this clearly and concisely internally. I’ve found recently that I feel better if I do this, and do it honestly.
I’ve noticed a pattern over the past few years, in that I’ve become more introspective, and honest with myself about the true nature of the intentions behind my actions. I guess you could call it growing up.
But one common hindrance along the way has been and continues to be my ego. One of the most challenging things is to set it a side, and look at yourself and a situation objectively, and admit to yourself and others when you do the most human of things, to err. That day where I never err will never come, for I lack the necessary infinitude to do so.
One of the benefits of being a member of this forum is having my creations, the fruit of the hobby in which I invest so much time, put on public display for all to hear, and judge.
Part of me can’t help but bet a part of my self worth on my ability to outdo myself, and admittedly, others. That latter component is a part of me that I have stared into and analysed and tormented over for a long time, and is rooted in many things that happened in my past.
It feels like, after much careful thought, that this whole journey started with my ventures into psychedelia. I journeyed too deep and too often, and suffered the consequences. I developed intense anxiety and paranoia and persistent visual and auditory distortions (thankfully the paranoia and anxiety are much less prevalent years after).
One more, important symptom I had, was a very unusual stutter. It wasn’t any old stutter. When it would happen, I could stop trying to say what I was trying to, and begin saying something else fluently without a hitch, and then if I were to try to continue saying what I had originally tried to, I would stutter again.
All negative consequences aside, abusing LSD as I did harboured an unexpected silver lining: a painful self-awareness. Every time I acted out of a place of ego, it became painfully apparent. At first, I rationalised this unpleasant sensation and managed to retreat back into self-deceit. (Sometimes I still do, but… ¯_(ツ)_/¯ )
However, the true gratification from that silver lining was delayed, as the best always is.
As the months passed, the nature of the auditory and visual distortions changed, and so did my stutter. It got worse. Then, after six months or so, it began to subside. Little did I know what it meant. Some time later, about a year, it reemerged, but this time, I began to notice a pattern: I only seemed to stutter when I was acting from a place of ego, in a negative way, such as one-upsmanship, or whatever.
At first, I was in denial. I didn’t want to accept this pattern, because I didn’t want to accept that I have a lot of work left to do.
Now, enter IDM Forums. I can’t remember exactly what the relative timings of these events were, my temporal memory is pretty shot from the pot.
Having to swallow your pride, take a serious look at that fruit of your own creation, as I described earlier, and actually consider if the criticisms offered carry weight, requires that you set aside your ego. Having to do this repeatedly, over time, allowing oneself to resolve any lingering ruminations that need to be had, normalises and re-acclimates you to the prospect of setting aside your ego.
(Side note: I’ve come to the belief that rumination has a function in the brain, whereby there is a serious inconsistency between reality and one’s internal model of the world, and the brain is trying to resolve this. Sometimes this system can be overactive or sometimes in an abusive context it can be maladaptive. Not sure if any research aligns with that, shall have to look it up at some point.)
This re-acclimation was crucial for me. I started to pay attention to when I stuttered, and when it occurred, I decided not to continue down that avenue, and took a moment to reflect on what was going on there internally, and then chose a more selfless set of words. I found that the more I did this, the less I stuttered.
It helps you to be comfortable being intellectually honest, but in order to be truly comfortable with this type of honesty, you must find comfort in your own being without the false comfort of thinking you’ve got everything right. You must be at peace with the idea that everything you’ve thought or believed might, just might, be entirely wrong. I don’t use “wrong” here to imply that every question has an objective answer, but in that a strategy we employ might not be a good one, or a particular conception we have of the world might not be in alignment with the world and may be harming us, if only we’d admit it to ourselves. That’s what I mean by “wrong” and “right” here.
And when you re-acclimate yourself to this new orientation, you can allow yourself to feel gratitude for the things you have, and to be happy for that which others have, but that you lack - and not just material things, but of virtue and ability, probably more the latter than the former. In a sense, the opposite of jealousy. Intentionally practicing this, even if at first it feels unusual, will help you to feel right and to feel gratitude naturally.
(Side note: I don’t believe in divide intervention, and I don’t believe that the brain has this magical system which detects when we act from a place of ego and makes us stutter to help us be more honest people. But rather, this is some neurological deficiency, caused probably the LSD (I was likely predisposed to this). The stutter is probably triggered in the moment by an increased internal state of excitement and anxiety caused by the intuitive/unconscious knowledge of the fact of the egotistical origins of the words, when certain parts of the brain activate.)
Anyway, this is starting to get on a bit, so I’ll try and wrap this up.
Now, I hardly ever stutter, but when I do, more often than chance, there’s an element of ego behind the words I’m trying to utter. So I take that as a sign that I should reassess what it is that I really think.
You might not have thought of me as a particularly egotistical person. I fully suspect a good few of you have picked up on it. When I joined this forum, I was already a decent way into this whole experience, and was beginning to be able to pick up on things as I typed them, which is easier than when in person. Though in person, without ever really realising it, I suppressed a lot of tendencies that would make me an unpleasant person to be around. At least I think that, as my friends generally don’t think of me as particularly egotistical, but there was always a strong hint it of leaking through. Like on some level I knew that behaviour was inappropriate but could not really reconcile it or allow myself to understand what was happening, out of a deep denial. I think we all have the ability to recognise it, even the most egotistical among us. They’ve just gotten really good at self-deceit.
I was also diagnosed with Autism about 12 or 13 years ago, which has added its own layer of complexity to navigating life’s maze of mirrors.
Whether all this was psychosomatic and I somehow manifested the entire experience, I don’t know. But I will be eternally grateful that it happened.
I’ve ways to go, but those ways I shall go.
So, I close with a thank you. Thank you to all of you. You have helped me in a way I cannot feel enough gratitude for.