Learning Lessons in 2012: The Destructiveness Of The Ego

mental health, Spiritualism & Buddhism

2012 has been a year of realisation and self-development, of recognising my faults and of making many mistakes.

I have been reading and learning about the ego, and discovering that many of us let our ego (or our sense of identity) dictate our lives. We have strong opinions: we are ‘for’ or ‘against’ this or that, and we love or hate this or that, thereby creating a strong sense of self. We defend our opinions, no matter how trivial because these opinions give us that sense of identity. The fear of losing this identity often makes us defensive, aggressive and need to be correct.

These ego patterns often rule my life and my relationships with other people. When I feel insecure, or my partner doesn’t have opinions which meet my approval, my ego’s response is to attack, or to manipulate to try to persuade the other person to change their behaviour or opinion. The ego believes that through negativity it can manipulate reality to get what it wants.

Creating an identity of oneself as a victim, or as a depressed or hard-done-by person, is another ego pattern that many of us are guilty of. And we don’t want to change these negative thought-patterns because this would threaten the very core of who we think we are. We live in constant states of drama, jealousy or sadness and we identify this pain as a part of our identity. Because of this, if we want to try to completely change these destructive patterns and re-tune the way that we think, it can be very difficult. It involves the courage to question and then destroy who we think we are.

So, what lessons have I learnt in 2012? I have learnt that I need to try to change these ego-patterns. I have also realised that I often try to fight egotistical people with my own egotism, which makes me just as bad. I have learnt that I often try to change a person to meet my expectations, when I should accept the person how he or she is. I have also cut down my alcohol intake, and on the rare occasion that I do get drunk, I tend to act foolishly and identify too much with the ego mindset patterns that I have talked about. And I have learnt that I should not judge people I meet by physical appearance/attractiveness because beauty is so much deeper than this. It is a very shallow way of seeing others.

Realising all this is one step, but it’s a different story trying to implement changes in order to grow as a person. I constantly make mistakes, but with each mistake I am aware of my faults and I learn. Last year I discovered a link between feeling truly happy and living in the nature. So now I try to be fully conscious of the present moment and I take time to observe the deep green shades of the trees, the sounds of the birds, or the many insects in the grass…I try to see my surroundings (whereas most of my life has been spent looking but not truly seeing the wonders around me). This has a calming, meditative effect , and as I observe the ‘now’, I try to free myself from thinking. I do, however, wonder how I will do this when I am thrown back into the chaos of city life.

At midnight at the start of 2013, I looked up at the moon and really grasped how beautiful life is, how we are all brothers and sisters on this planet and not rivals, despite what the capitalist system teaches us. We can all support and encourage each other to be as happy as possible. Looking at the moon, I realised that my life could mostly be simple, and that actually the reality usually is simple, but that my mind often distorts the truth and creates unnecessary problems.
There is a Crimethinc quote which states:

Let tolerance, humility, accessibility and sensitivity be the qualities we nurture in ourselves, not self-righteousness or pride.

I think my biggest personal challenge in 2013 will be to try to implement tolerance and humility whilst fighting for human and animal rights.

In my last blog post I stated that I was feeling aimless. In hindsight, the lessons that I have learnt this year make my travels anything but aimless.

The ideas in this blog post are hugely shaped by Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power Of Now (and I may well have subconsciously plagiarised one or two sentences!)…I am also greatly influenced by my beautiful friend Sara, who is younger than me but who will always be wiser. I am still influenced by my friend Olivia, who was my first friend who had the courage to question her sense of self and to make brave changes. This blog post signifies the beginning of a long mental/spiritual journey.

17 thoughts on “Learning Lessons in 2012: The Destructiveness Of The Ego

  1. beautifully and powerfully written, true for me ! travel make us more consciencious ! happy to see everithing is allright, kiss for you and julien, hope see you soon amigos ! feliz ano nuevo


  2. amazing post Lisa πŸ™‚ i was nodding vigorously all the way through reading it! and then nearly cried when i read my name! sending you so much love and lots and lots of hugs, happy happy 2013….hope to see you in the not too distant future xoxo


  3. Wow, Lisa you are really evolving! I’m so happy that you are on your way here to Yerevan to see me and we can talk more about a lot of this stuff. Looking forward to seeing you my vagabond sister πŸ™‚


  4. Beautifully put. As you know, I also struggle with the ego in an ongoing battle, which I often seem to be loosing since I started traveling. As you , say being in nature makes it easier…be careful not to shut yourself off from the nitty gritty of human life though πŸ˜‰

    May your blessings abound in 2013


  5. Hello Lisa

    Love your blog, it’s inspiring. So inspiring! I learnt a lot about freeganism thanks to you.
    I’d love to know what exactly you carry with you on your travels, and esp what you consider essential. For someone with a bad back like me, weight is a big issue.

    I really loved these two last posts, esp the one about the ego. I’d love to talk more about it, even better if it were face to face, if you ever come back to Bilbao, do come visit us. You’ll be more than welcome.
    Do you like listening to podcasts while on the road? I felt enlightened by Audiodharma.org that I discovered on a journey a bit like yours about a year ago. I couldn’t help seeing a lot of similarities with it in your last two posts. I’d recommend audiodharma.org/series/1/talk/1762/ among others.

    Too bad you had a bad time in Spain. Being from Southern France and living in Northern Spain, I’m not surprised at all at the weather you got. Brave of you to even try hiking around here in winter! But that’s the beauty of your travels, at least from the reader’s perspective.
    Btw, the Camino seems to me to be 101 of Solo traveling, as you know you won’t get lost and you’ll find help anywhere along the way if need be. But, sure, as for one you’ve been beyond that for a long time already… Tarmac does suck big time, though.

    And one last thing, I couldn’t agree more with you on Tbilisi; it’s near-perfect!

    Lots of love and all the best in your 2013 travels


  6. I read your post again. It’s so simply yet beautifully said. Thank you. Really.

    One precious thing I learnt listening to the above mentioned podcasts is not to be judgemental with yourself. Not to fire the “second arrow” at yourself. The idea can be found in this particular talk, starting around minute 13 audiodharma.org/talks/audio_player/1194.html
    Let me know what you think of it, Lisa



  7. Hi Mathieu,
    Thank you for the lovely comments πŸ™‚ I am very interested in the podcasts and will have a listen and let you know what I think. Over the last two days I have been battling with trying not to let my thoughts of the past take over…I am trying to be aware of the present moment and not get lost in thinking, which can often lead us to sadness.

    For travelling, my most important item is my tent. It’s 2kg. I had been travelling with a tent that was 0.8kg but I couldn’t sit up in it and I started to hate the idea of camping in it. So I upgraded and don’t mind carrying the extra weight.

    I also carry a 3-season sleeping bag because I am often sleeping in the cold. My sleeping bag is 1.2kg.

    Other essentials are: sleeping mat, headtorch, swiss army knife, compass for hiking, pens for making hitchhiking signs, shoes for hiking (I downgraded from heavy hiking boots to less harsh, multi-terrain shoes), MAPS (actually, i carry too many maps!). Then I take clothes, a book, dictionary for the country I am in, and also a diary to write things in. (And a few other things like a towel and toiletries, tea tree oil for injuries…and spices for turning simple food into good food!)

    If I wasn’t carrying my camping gear, I would be able to travel with a day-bag. The rucksack I use is a Lowe Alpine rucksack 42 litres, which is only 0.8kg. I would say that my bag is about 10kg when I am not hiking, and maybe 13kg when I am hiking with food and water.

    Feel free to let me know of any more links.

    Have a great 2013!
    Lisa πŸ™‚


  8. Hi
    interesting post.

    this especially I found interesting :

    >Creating an identity of oneself as a victim, or as a depressed or
    >hard-done-by person, is another ego pattern that many of us are guilty >of. And we don’t want to change these negative thought-patterns >because this would threaten the very core of who we think we are. We live >in constant states of drama, jealousy or sadness and we identify this pain >as a part of our identity.

    A friend of mine who is a bit famous gets a lot of ‘fan mail’. Many of the people who write to her, say they feel inspired by her, and she lightens up their lives in which they have so much hard-ship – some have diseases, some had 70 operations so far even though they are only 34, some others had other terrible things destroy their families and belongings etc. For these people their misery, their operations, their bad luck seem to be ”what they earned in life”, ”why they should be respected”…

    ALso, I was wondering in general why people get so deep into anorexia or depression in the Western world for no particular reason. I do think a large part is they feel they need to define themselves, and mental health problems like this make them “feel special”…


  9. Lisa nice and open blog. However in response to the above comment and I, myself, being one of ‘them’: I have no wish to censure or speak for anyone but myself I have enjoyed hitch hiking over many years. Generally, ‘alot’ of people suffer mental health problems. Some of them hitch hike.


  10. Simply and beautifully put. We’ve been on a similar journey, and this reminded me of some of the things I have been reading myself, literally re-minded me – put me in that same mindset again. It can be hard to hold onto these truths, and everyone puts them slightly differently, so thank you for writing this.


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