Dropping the Ego – Self-actualized as compared to self-absorbed Our egos want us to be special, to get atten­tion, and are on us relent­lessly – judg­ing us as fail­ures while spurring us on to do the same stuff. The self-actualized person is able, again and again, to step out of this game.


Here are a few differences between self-actualized and self-absorbed.

· The self-actualized person under­stands that his own world revolves around himself.

· The self-absorbed person thinks the whole world revolves around her.

· The self-actualized person asks, "What can I learn?"

· The self-absorbed person asks, "What’s in it for me?"

Dropping the ego is all about turning the mirror of ego away from our false selves, and shining the light of attention onto our true selves.

We’ve been condi­tioned to elevate ourselves to unreal levels. We annoy ourselves over others we judge "too big for their britches," miss­ing our own games and judge­ments. One way past this is to see self-absorption for what it is – a diver­sion designed to keep us stuck in irrel­e­vant stories. We let go of our games through self-knowing and self-actualization.

The self-actualized person takes her own wants and needs seriously.

(If you’re curi­ous about the differ­ence between a want and a need, check out my book, This Endless Moment) It’s avail­able as a book, an e-book, and an audio book.

self actualized

She knows herself and seeks to know more. She never assumes that she’s "done" with much of anything – never is there a sense of "been there, done that," because she knows that the "there" and the "that" are constantly chang­ing. If some­thing isn’t going the way she wants it to, she simply stops doing what isn’t work­ing, with­out whin­ing or complain­ing.

The self-actualized person has learned to be self-sufficient, and there­fore not in need (not needy) of the support of others. This comes from a place of self- respon­si­bil­ity. They do not require an audi­ence in order to feel valu­able – they already value them­selves as they are. They may choose to be enter­tain­ing and many have great charisma. They are work­ing from a place of great enjoy­ment of the drama and the beauty of life.

The self-absorbed person expects to be put first

self absorbed

The self-absorbed person, assumes that he lives in the centre of the universe, thinks that every­thing should go exactly as he wants it to, and that every­thing that is happen­ing is about him. He is highly opin­ion­ated, and thinks that he is always right, always justi­fied in his behav­iour. When he judges that some­one else is not consid­er­ing him first, he redou­bles his effort to be noticed. In a traf­fic jam, the self-absorbed person asks, "Why is this happen­ing to me?"

Many of the dyads in this series have to do with internal versus external states of focus, comfort, value and understanding.

If I am trying to be the centre of every­one else’s atten­tion, I have no centre to call my own. If I am using my sexu­al­ity or talents to try to "win love," I am using rather than valu­ing myself. If I have the expec­ta­tion that love means that the other person is going to meet my every need, take care of me, and put me ahead of every­thing else, sooner or later I’m going to be very disap­pointed.

I’m using self-absorbed to describe a way of being

Self-absorption is both a mental perspec­tive, and an action. Another, clin­i­cal defi­n­i­tion is narcis­sism. The person craves exter­nal vali­da­tion – in other words, I am noth­ing if I am not noticed. Everything the person does is done to gain atten­tion. My mom had this perspec­tive. I can’t number the times, when what she wanted was at cross purposes with what she was getting, that she would liter­ally puff herself up to her full, tower­ing 5′ 0", and thun­der, "How can they do this? Don’t they know who I am?"

Self-actualization is about self-knowledge, coupled with letting others off the hook

off the hook

The self-actualized person does what he does because he derives satis­fac­tion from a job well done. He works from a calm centre, and finds value from his active engage­ment with the world — with the situ­a­tion at hand. The person’s self-esteem is not depen­dent on the views, actions or reac­tions of others.

The self-actualized person, in other words, has the keys to her own car, turns her key all by herself, and drives where she chooses. She does as she chooses, in keep­ing with her values and prin­ci­ples. She is content to be the centre of atten­tion of a crowd of one. She is aware of herself, content with herself, and will­ing to bring herself forward in full engage­ment with others and the world.

The self-absorbed person wants you to admire his car, actu­ally care (or even want to go along!) where he is driving to, and be respon­si­ble for keep­ing track of his keys. He wants others to take time out of their day to deliver the keys, told how much he’ll be missed, and sent on his way with his GPS fully programmed.

He wants every­one to stand on the side of the road and wave as he goes by. He pictures the crowds whis­per­ing to each other, "I wonder where he is off to now?" And of course he wants congrat­u­la­tions for figur­ing things out (they often imag­ine that they are very bright…) — simple things, like find­ing their way back home.

The self-absorbed person is sure life is about getting atten­tion. For the self-actualized person, it’s all about complet­ing legs on a jour­ney that never ends. Self-actualization takes nerve, brav­ery and self-assurance. Self-absorption takes a good publi­cist.

The self-actualized person knows herself well, likes herself, seldom second-guesses herself, and cheer­fully lives with the conse­quences of her actions. She seeks the ways and means of meet­ing her own needs and engag­ing joyfully in the lives of others, with­out attempt­ing to manip­u­late others into being more focussed on her than on their own walks.

Life becomes an adven­ture, fully expressed and felt.

It’s a walk worth consid­er­ing.

Make Contact!

So, how does this week’s arti­cle sit with you? What ques­tions do you have? Leave a comment or ques­tion!

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