Your Only Enemy Lives in the Mirror

Life is too short for anger, malice, jealousy and hatred. I refuse to waste it on misery and a bad feeling inside. What about you?

You may say that in this world of ours there’s nothing easier than to get frustrated and annoyed. On the other hand, we tend to forget that everyone’s paying their own dues only. Admittedly, it’s easier to hone yourself while trying to detect someone else’s mistakes. It’s a comfortable, relaxing position, as opposed to an active search within, and a quest for your own mistakes. Yet it’s precisely our own mistakes that torture and humiliate us. Others are there only to distract and shift your attention, making it possible for you to idle your days away until eventually it dawns on you: It’s you who feel bad, you are pathetic, you live your life without love, money and, eventually, health, but there’s always someone else to blame, isn’t there? Is there anything for you in other people’s mistakes? What makes you tired? Pressed for time and stressed, increasingly impatient, but it doesn’t get any better? Honestly, it’s high time you identified the underlying reason for the wrong choices you make repeatedly.

The Ego is a good servant, but a bad master.


Perhaps it’s hard to explain what exactly our Ego is, but it’s fairly easy to discern its manifestations in practice. Do you remember the last time you felt:

  • Vanity
  • Hatred
  • Envy
  • Jealousy
  • Cynicism?

As destructive and contagious as human emotions come. The Ego is powerful and perfidious, and it manipulates the mind with ease. The Ego can seduce you, and make you see the reality through its eyes. This does sound as if two I’s exist in everyone, but in fact they do. The Ego is the “I” with high aspirations. It will amplify our visions by two, five, 100 or 1000, infinitely even. The Ego will transform any painful situation into ambition. It won’t leave us alone, EVER, and even when we hit the amplification rate of one million, the Ego will be there, to whisper softly into your ear: you can do better, you deserve more, take more…

The Ego is here to encourage us, to make us stronger, to help us blaze our own trail, which makes it indispensable in this world. The problem is that you are always up for more time in front of the mirror, and it may escape you that it’s no longer you, your true self, watching back.

Tame your Ego – do not cast it aside

We’ve all heard of Alexander the Great, haven’t we? It was the Ego that helped him rise to the throne of the world! No one had believed it to be possible before, but he made it. The very same Ego, however, was behind the quick demise of Alexander the Great, landing heavily in the mud. There’s even a phrase, “Pride comes before a fall.”

Certain professions and high positions in society are more susceptible to the bad aspects of the Ego than others:

Leaders and rulers, politicians, lawyers and judges, doctors in particular.

It’s absurd that those whose primary qualities should be concern for others, compassion and care are so quick to replace them with one single care – for their own status and power. A wisdom has been ascribed to Arthur Schopenhauer:

“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.”

Working with the Ego is a tricky and dangerous affair, but also one of the most important lessons we need to learn. If under the influence of the Ego we keep stretching to reach for the skies, but manage to keep at least one foot on the ground, what will happen? We’ll grow!

It might be easier to get over and done with the Ego, dismiss it and dissolve it in monastic asceticism. It’s not an easy task either, but it seems futile to me. There are so many spiritual disciplines, basically teaching us the one same thing – how to find work for the Ego’s hands, and get it under control. If we fail, we might end up in the claws of the Ego’s destructive energy.

Wait, wait, am I a touch too tough here? I don’t think so. The main property of the mind under the influence of the Ego is that is doesn’t want to change. Everyone who at least once in their lifetime managed to push the Ego to the corner knows this only too well. This is the point where you can look your Ego right into the eyes, and see the beast within. Eyeball to eyeball with the Ego, the bravest do not back off, but decide to change instead. The symptoms can get worse, anything may surface, you can feel pain and rage – but it’s different. It’s not wallowing in negativity, but rather a cleansing process. Many get scared only when the process is over. They find it very hard to look at themselves, having realised what was hiding within.

When I see them in panic, this is what I tell them:

“It’s like when you get up from the toilet seat – it looks ugly, and smells even worse. No one wants to look at it. After all, there’s not much to see, don’t you think? The longer you stay, the harder it gets. Flush it down, and get done with it. You will feel amazing!”

Why wait for others to change first? This game is not about who’s stronger, it’s the Ego’s game. Our game is about who’s wiser and more aware! Everyone pays their own dues. Get up and leave the table while you can still pay yours.