This drawing activity helps you visualize if you have a healthy ego. A healthy ego is one that is capable of judging our decisions based on the environment and our desires. This to prioritize our well being. The activity of drawing a character in different scenarios is a powerful technique of visualization. It puts our rational part in tune with our desires. Through this activity, you can judge whether or not you have a healthy ego.
What is ego?
A simple explanation of ego is the way you see yourself. It is the way you would describe yourself to you.
Freud was one of the first people to define the ego. He stated that the ego is the moderator between our unconscious and society. In other words, the ego helps us behave by our instincts and that which society demands from us. The ego is in charge of judging our decisions to adapt to the environment we live in.
For Buddhism, the ego is the mental creation of yourself to guide you through the world. Consequently, it is the way you construct your mind to live.
The importance of a healthy ego
A healthy ego is following your well being. An unhealthy ego either tries to please others or is blinded by personal needs. You believe appearances are important. For example, you think that appearing strong in front of others matters. Also, an unhealthy ego operates by what society considers to be success or happiness. A healthy ego avoids looking for attributes that depend on how others see you.
I’m not saying you should disconnect yourself from society. Nor to drive away from commodities or money. The importance here is to notice how your life navigates. Are you pleasing society’s standards or your personal desires? Neglecting or depending on any of the two is unhealthy.
An Example: A Pandemic
Some people prioritize their instincts without considering the environment. A person who neglects the advice from doctors because he believes he knows more. His ego depends on his wisdom and to doubt everyone else’s. He listens way more to his instinct and doesn’t think about a common benefit. For instance, the use of face masks. It is controversial and wearing one is an altruistic action. Some people fail to realize that, and don’t comprehend that sometimes you have to make sacrifices for everyone’s welfare.
People who prioritize the environment without considering their needs. For example, a person that is social distancing and doesn’t work on his mental health. Depriving ourselves to go outside is not an easy task and we should watch our mental health. It is beneficial to keep a social distance when there’s a pandemic, but it’s harmful not to acknowledge our feelings. We have needs, for example, to express and adapt our mental health to a new situation.
Don’t Suppress Your Ego
The concept of trying to get rid of our ego is not healthy. After all, we live in a society and we need a mediator with our unconscious. Trying to get rid of our ego would be like having a damaged prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain is in charge of making decisions and mediating our social behavior. Without our ego, we wouldn’t judge whether or not some choices affect us.
It is healthy to have a mediator that gives us an objective input of the world’s situation. For example, to help us navigate through earning a living. We need to survive and we need to have an input on how to adapt to the external circumstances. We need to be able to judge when those external circumstances may harm us. Also, we need to be able to judge when we are harming ourselves by only listening to our instincts.
It is not about suppressing our feelings and acting like everything is fine. To clarify, it is about acknowledging what we feel and what is good for us according to the environment. Don’t confuse having a healthy ego with being egocentric. The latter is self-seeking and suppresses others’ feelings. The contrary would be to please everybody else and forget about our needs. A healthy ego is about finding that balance. It is about knowing when to adapt, and when to listen to your instinct.
How can you tell if your ego is healthy or not?
On a personal note, I remembered the moment I realized I didn’t have a healthy ego doing this activity. It was like the chapter on How I Met Your Mother. You hear glass shattering once you realize something was there the whole time.
I missed my old job and I thought I was feeling unfulfilled professionally. I came to realize that I really liked it not because I was growing professionally, or I enjoyed the job. Subconsciously, I enjoyed the approbation and I needed it to feel good about myself. My ego was fed by external admiration. My unhealthy ego was feeding me information about my environment and was considering that admiration to be important.
To a healthy ego, it wouldn’t matter how other people looked at me. A healthy ego is in the capacity of showing the information without adding a tone to it. For instance, not caring about others’ compliments. After all, I was doing my job and at some level, I was learning something from that place.
It’s Just a Job
That is the importance of a job. Not the fact that we have one, or that people admire us. It is important because of what we can learn from it. A job shouldn’t define us. A healthy ego is in the capacity of adapting and observing the job for what it is. It is a place to earn a living and learn. It is not a definition of who we are.
When you have a healthy ego, you take the information and you evaluate it. That information doesn’t come up with added emotional information. You don’t depend on that information to function. It is just a variable in your life. For example, you shouldn’t need the sun to shine for you to be happy. The information is useful to know what kind of clothes you need to wear. It is not to define how you are going to feel throughout the day.
How to keep a healthy ego?
It is important to reflect on our lives. Evaluate why you behave a certain way and what are your priorities. If you notice that you put a tone to a certain factor, then you need to evaluate it. Ask yourself questions and observe your emotions.
For example, evaluate when the situations are real and when you are imagining outcomes to feed your self-perception. Also, evaluate how you define yourself. If you think you depend on an external factor you should evaluate your ego. Remember, that it is all about a balance between your environment and your instincts. Possessions don’t define you, nor your talents. The way you navigate life defines you. Also, your thoughts and actions.
An unhealthy ego cares about what you can judge visually. That is to say, the kind of job you have, the clothes you wear, and how popular and admirable you are. What about what is inside? Can you judge that easily? Does your ego care about how thoughtful, tranquil, and observant you are?
If you really were observant and perceptive would your unhealthy ego still exist? If you could interpret situations, nurture yourself with kindness would your unhealthy ego still be present? Can you suppress an unhealthy ego with wisdom? Can you make an unhealthy ego, healthy by taking part in artistic activities?
The Drawing Activity
With this drawing activity, you would be able to judge the way you are telling yourself who you are. That is to say, to observe how you construct and perceive who you are. With this activity, you would judge your ego towards various scenarios of your life.
The idea is to observe your ego as if you were someone else. First, draw a character and later imagine how you would want it to be. Wish the best for that character and nurture it with what you consider is important. That is, to have the qualities you consider a good person should have.
When you draw your physical image you are going to perceive if you like or dislike something about you. Above all, the importance of this step is to judge where that perception of beauty is coming from. We have a very big preconception thanks to the fashion and entertainment industry of what beauty should be. Here you can find an interesting post on how to free yourself a bit from that constant media attack. Consider how that definition of beautiful has changed throughout time.
We all admire nature when we see something peculiar. We value more a rare bird than the pigeons we see on the street. Why we have to be so harsh on our body image and condemn that which the industry finds unacceptable? Think about how we despise physical traits that show the passing of time such as wrinkles. Why do we hate to have a bit or a lot of belly fat? After all, that was what was considered beautiful in the renaissance.
You Make the Rules
The importance of this activity for a healthy ego is to analyze how important your physical traits are to you. It is not healthy to mimic that which the industry finds acceptable. Also, it is not healthy to be proud of being the contrary. You should observe how important is to you to appear the same or completely opposite. Most importantly, you should analyze who you are trying to please. Do you like to take care of yourself and feel pretty for you, or for someone else? Also, do you feel strong because of your physical appearance?
Would you like your character to depend on its physical appearance to fight against the world? Is it better to give your character an inner strength or a superficial beauty? Would you like your character to be constantly aware of the way it looks?
The importance here is to notice why you value physical appearance. Is it because of you, or are you pleasing someone else?
The Way you Use Your Time
Now that you have created a visual character imagine how you want to educate it. Consider human instincts such as fear, stress, depression, and anxiety. They are imperative for our survival, but they need to be observed so that they don’t rule our lives.
Your character has instincts since birth. What activities do you think would help it survive without a lack or magnification of them?
Read here to see how our instincts need to be noticed for us to adapt. For example, consider how your character should behave according to our current environmental problems. To neglect that is both to ignore the environment as well as our survival instincts. An unhealthy ego prioritizes money over climate change. Think about what information you have gathered from this, and how you are going to behave accordingly.
With the physical strength and the education you provided for your character it is time to put it into action. Do you think the traits you designed are a good start to put it out in the world?
That is to say, imagine your character living and surviving with the characteristics you designed. Do you think the time your character spends reading is enough to make good decisions? Does your character evaluate human behavior and its relationship with other people? What about its nutrition?
Consider how these factors play an important role for your character to survive. Analyze how you would like it to live to be well informed about possible scenarios throughout its life.
Place your character in your working environment. For instance, visualize how it would react to your colleagues and the environment in the office. Are there bullies in your office? Are they harming your character? If not, do you think it’s wise to send your character into battle? It would be wise to teach your character how to survive without having to lose its strength over an argument.
Don’t let your character be driven by what society considers success. Your character could have more possessions, but would it be wise to jeopardize its sanity? Do you think it is good for your character to have more money by losing time to nurture its soul? Don’t let your character have an unhealthy ego by considering its status on a professional level over its well being.
In this activity on developing a healthy ego, place your character at home. If you live with someone else, how is your character’s relationship with them? Does your character depend on them to be happy or does it have a healthy relationship of companionship and respect?
Observe how your character behaves in your home. Does it feel comfort and understanding, or does it feel threatened or distant? Is the environment safe and comfortable? You could make some subtle or big changes, to help your character feel more pleasant at home.
Your Personal Development
You gave your character some initial education. How would you nourish that which you considered important in the beginning? Do you feel that your character needs more personal development by engaging for example in some hobbies? For this, consider obviously giving it some art time. Its benefits are invaluable and you would be doing it a big favor to nurture its soul and mind.
Also, think about the benefits of reading. Let your character grow professionally and personally by choosing some good books for it.
It’s all About Observation
It is time to acknowledge the fact that the character is you. The character was your ego playing in different situations. You evaluated how your ego behaved in different situations. Did you like what you saw? Do you think you have a healthy ego?
This activity to develop a healthy ego could be a good entry for your journal. Consider keeping a notebook to analyze and observe your life. Don’t forget that is all about how much balance you have between your environment and your instincts. Don’t forget about the importance of this activity because of art benefits.
For this, you need to be constantly observing and nurturing your life. This, to shape the way you want your life to be.
If you enjoyed the activity and want to learn more about creating characters look here.
Please share your thoughts and tell me about other activities you use to analyze your ego. I would love to know more about this subject.