Ego is not the Enemy: My Journey of Self Love

In the Chinese Asian tradition, it is undesirable to have a big head about oneself, to be vain and brag. Parents often tell their children they are stupid and ugly so that they will try harder, and not become conceited. My Chinese mother did not want what happened to her to happen to her children, so she raised me telling me I was smart and beautiful every day. She still does. Due to this reinforcement by both of my parents, my brother and I both grew up with plenty of confidence. In the years to come however, due to my success in athletics, the arts and academics, I knew it would be very easy for me to develop an ego.

Every once in awhile in my childhood, I would get a comment of  “okay don’t get too cocky” or “don’t get a big head,”  and since then I have hated myself for the times I thought I appeared conceited. Even if it didn’t show, I have been internally hyper aware of being too loud, too flashy, too braggy or just egotistical. I was overly aware during the rare occasions I would post a selfie or make outward affirmation about something I did or said that I was proud of. I was always trying to soften or dilute the things I was talking about that were about me. Humility was the attribute I prayed for, aspired to, and praised in others.

But this humility, did I draw this line too far? Was what I called “humble” really suppressing the things one is allowed to be proud of about themselves? Was I hating myself for complimenting myself about the things that were worthy of compliment? Was I shutting down self affirmations with a clean hard snap instead of the gentle loving arms one should greet themselves with? Was I not allowing myself to love myself and show others that I loved myself too? To all these things, yes, I unfortunately have.

I’ve recently come to realize is that what I was calling “ego” was really just me wanting to be public with the positive loveable things about myself. In reality, when we see others love themselves, we’re happy for them. We even admire and envy them and begin to look into how we can make ourselves that way too. In Mod Sun’s song Same Way (pt. 2), in the first line he says, “I’m not afraid to say I think I’m a hero.” When I first heard this I was like wow that’s so great he can so shamelessly say that about himself. Then I thought, why wouldn’t I say something like that? My mind instantly went dark and said because that would be ego. But wait, it wasn’t when he did though, if he can say it, why can’t I? I began to ask myself then if maybe I have been labeling positive affirmations as negative ego in this very same way.

Another thing that happened was I observed an exchange between two people. The boy said to the girl, “wow it’s great being you” and she replied enthusiastically with “yeah it is.” Again I thought wow how amazing she can so shamelessly feel that way about herself. How nice it must be to be able to feel that way about your own life and feel comfortable admitting it to others. Then I followed up with agreeing with the fact that it is also how I feel about MY life! But why wouldn’t I say that? Because that would be ego...but it’s NOT.

The fact that I think being me is great, is a good thing. I genuinely hope that my children are just like me in most ways. Before, I would not say this because I would have thought it was narcissistic. Shouldn’t I be glad that I think I resemble a person with good enough beliefs and morals that I want them for my children? Shouldn’t I be proud to think I am heading in a good direction? Yes, and I do. When I started to realize I was admiring others for their self love and not calling it ego, I learned I could do that with myself as well. Perhaps my public self love can help inspire others in the same direction.

It is said that when we shine, it inherently helps others be more comfortable to shine too. I really want to help others do this. I’m posting pictures everyday of beautiful sights and even of myself with positive sayings and quotes. Before I would have thought, that is ego, to think that you know better than others or have an eye for art. Really it is that this is a quote or saying that brings inspiration in my life, let me share it. This is a picture of art, nature or me that is visually appealing and makes me feel good, let me share it. I am breaking this habit of putting myself down.  

Now everyday I am becoming less and less afraid of what was the big scary monster negative ego, and now greet these thoughts and emotions as positive affirmations about myself. Yes I love myself. I am proud of myself. I genuinely try to be and believe that I am a good person. Say these things to yourself over and over, you could never say them too much. Be in love with yourself or keep improving yourself until you are. Do this by doing the things you love to do for the sake of doing them and putting you first. You are your first, greatest and most impactful joy in your own life. This newfound way of loving myself is allowing me to love others even better as well. I don’t have a big head, I have a big heart; big enough for you and me.


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