Dropping the Ego — Self-actualized as compared to self-absorbed

  1. On Waking Up — Awake as compared to Asleep
  2. The Attack of the WhyBut Monster
  3. Owning Your Life — Self-responsibility as compared to Blaming
  4. Into the Flow — Flexible as compared to blocked
  5. Dropping the Ego — Self-actualized as compared to self-absorbed
  6. Having Integrity — Truthful as compared to devious

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.

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

About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press

2 thoughts on “Dropping the Ego — Self-actualized as compared to self-absorbed”

  1. Osho talks about dropping the ego and becoming engulfed, almost “possessed” even, with “the source” or “the whole”. He argues that this is what the greats like, Beethoven and Picasso do. He says they lose their “ego” and become “possessed”.
    Do you see where I’m going with this?
    The word “possession” just throws me off a bit.
    Thanks for your time 🙂

    • I’m reminded of the Zen story where the teacher is working with a student who doesn’t “get it.” So the teacher threw him out the window. Upon hitting the ground, the student “got it.”
      Likely a true story, knowing Zen teachers. 😉
      It’s hard to get across the intensity of practice that is required to do something superficially simple — just being present. So, language is strong to make the point — to get your attention.
      Obviously, for you, “possessed” works!
      The joke is, you’re already possessed by the source. That we might not notice is where the work comes.
      Thanks for sharing!


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