[I hope you enjoy this short fictional tale “Victim of a Powerful Ego”]
Feeling like a victim
Fernando’s life was a real chore. He got up early for work each weekday, commuted to the office and had to deal with all sorts of problems during a full day of about 11 hours. It seemed like everyone needed his help. Fernando was good at his job and he felt like the company and all his co-workers took advantage of him. At one level, he was proud that others needed him but, at another level he resented the fact that he was doing so many things and not getting helped by the others. Fernando felt like the world wasn’t fair. He felt like a victim of life.
After commuting back home, Fernando was so pleased to be away from work and to spend some relaxing time with his family. But, in no time, his wife was telling him about problems at the house that needed attention, he also noticed things that hadn’t been put away properly, cleaning that hadn’t been done and he ended up doing the cooking because everyone else had other things to do and were tired from their day. Now he was feeling like a victim again. He had had a hard day and now everyone at home was expecting him to do things they should have done. Why weren’t they helping him? It just wasn’t fair. Fernando felt like crying.
When would life get easier? Is this all Fernando could expect? How could he change the way everyone was treating him?
These questions plagued Fernando constantly. He wanted a relaxing life and was constantly seeking relaxing times but he felt like a victim, he found himself in stressful situations and the feeling that life wasn’t being fair to him almost all the time. Whenever Fernando does find some nice, relaxing time, usually just hanging around and discussing all sorts of things with his family, something small pops up that triggers the return of stress and resignation to an unfair deal in life. Why does this happen?
It can be something as simple as noticing that something hasn’t been put away that can put an end to Fernando’s relaxing time, and the change can happen in an instant. It’s as if there are two personalities inside Fernando. One that is very chilled, relaxed and loving and another that is stressed, unhappy, looking for reasons to say “woe is me!” and play the victim of an unfair life.
Having two personalities like this is a sign of conflicted thinking. Fernando has created the two personalities because he has two consistent ways of thinking that are not aligned. We saw an example of this a bit earlier with respect to Fernando’s work life. He has one train of thought that says “I’m proud to be so good at my job that many others need to ask for my help and assistance” and another that says “I resent how people dump so much of the work on me, take me for granted and don’t think of how I’m feeling”. The real problem is that both of these cannot exist at the same time.
Fernando must have conflicting thoughts at home as well. Probably thoughts like these, “I’m proud of being a good provider for my family, creating a good, loving environment” contrasted with “nobody at home realises how hard I work for them and they just take me for granted and don’t bother to help me at all”. Again, these two trains of thought cannot both be true.
There is nothing more true than the fact that all things start from thoughts. Our consistent thoughts lead to everything in our worlds. So what happens if we have two conflicting trains of thought that are both strong? We can be sure that the results of these thoughts will not be what we’d like. We’ll be confused about why certain things appear to be “happening” to us. We might think that we never have any good luck, and we’re just a victim of an unfair life.
A fight with the ego
Most certainly, some of our thoughts are our true thoughts, the true essence of ourselves. These thoughts we can’t completely eradicate. They will always be there, even though maybe heavily muted. However, during our lives we can build up other thought patterns, even conflicting ones, and we can do this without even thinking (consciously) about it. The bad thing is that we can start to identify with these new thought patterns that our mind has made up. We think that these thought patterns define us. This is what is called an “ego” – a mind-made version of who we are. Yet, it’s not who we are. We are naturally aligned with the thought patterns we were born with, not the ones we acquired or learnt along the way. How can we be rid of the harmful ego we have unconsciously constructed?
Fernando’s true thoughts, his personal truth, is the same at the office and at home. He is a good person, helpful to others and always improving at what he does. He is a loving person, always pleased to help others and provide them support. He is very happy when he does this. The problem is that his ego disagrees. His ego thinks that it defines the real Fernando. His ego believes that he shouldn’t be taken advantage of and that everyone else should exalt Fernando since he is so good and be offering to do things for Fernando, agreeing with him and making his life easier. His ego believes that, if all this were to happen, then he could be truly happy and, until that time, life is going to be a painful struggle. Until these things happen, Fernando will feel like a victim.
No wonder Fernando is having difficulty. His ego believes that he is different to what he knows he really is, different to his truth, and the ego does not want to let go. As Fernando begins to realise his truth through meditation and contemplation, his ego begins to resist. Fernando’s ego truly believes that it is his true self, so how could it agree to disappear. If his ego was no more, it believes Fernando would be no more.
Ironically, the more Fernando acknowledges his real truth the more his ego fights. It’s not surprising that he’s having more sudden bursts of irritation and anger. He might be going along very nicely, maintaining his consistent true thoughts and being happy, but his ego is bubbling and struggling underneath. It is not happy to be suppressed as it believes that it is the truth and wants to regain the ascendency. Then, something small happens that gives the ego a foothold, something like a person asking for help a bit rudely, and the ego’s thought patterns come back strongly, in a flash. This is why Fernando is prone to anger so easily. His true self is growing, but is ego is still quite strong.
How can Fernando get rid of his ego and stop feeling like a victim? That’s not easy. He’s been living with his ego for a very long time. It won’t go away easily. He can keep developing his true thoughts and wait for them to be stronger than his ego, or he can expose his ego for the untruth that it is. But how to do that?
Exposing the untruth of the ego
How can Fernando expose his ego as untruth? Well one thing is that he can recognise and acknowledge some of the damaging and untrue actions he takes as a result of his ego’s prompting. At the both the office and home, Fernando can notice that he has become a control freak. He has firm ideas of how he thinks everything should be done, how things should be cleaned and organised and what he thinks everyone should do to ensure the world is just the way he likes it. Most of the time when his temperament changes for the worse, it happens because someone or something has not complied with his view on how the world should be. He finds himself saying things like “Oh damn! This shouldn’t be here it should be put away on the top shelf of this cupboard. I’ve told everyone so many times! Why do they ignore me? They do it deliberately just to annoy me. How can they be so carefree when I’m so stressed? Why does it always have to be me to set things straight?”. Anger and unhappiness have now settled in. Fernando feels like a victim of an unfair life.
The strange thing is that, deep down, Fernando is not a control freak. He couldn’t care less where simple items are stored. It’s his ego that mistakenly believes this is important, maybe fuelled by things he was told when he was young. Who knows? But, for sure, the ego is pushing him away from his truth and making him unhappy.
Now that Fernando sees that his ego is pushing him to be a control freak, he can expose that as untrue. This might not be so easy either. The ego is strong and quite mature by now. Fernando might need a quite demonstrative proof to get the message through to the ego.
A “no control” day
Fernando has decided to have a day where he deliberately will control things as little as possible. He will let things go in whatever direction they take and just observe them and be happy no matter what. On this day, he will actually rejoice when things are disorganised and not as he’d normally want. He knows that his ego will fight, but he thinks he can handle it for a day. Hopefully he’ll succeed and his ego will be weakened a bit as a result.
How will Fernando go on this day? Let’s wish him all the best. What actually happens will have to be the subject of another story. My guess is that he’ll actually enjoy living through the disarray and he certainly won’t feel like a victim. My guess is he’ll want to try have more days living without control…
Also consider reading this beautifully written article that explains the problems with ego and the victim mentality.