Ego Goeth Before a Fall

How do you make tough decisions? You weigh them according to your values and principles, right? You thoughtfully examine the issue, do your gut check, then decide.

Or do you?

Perhaps you scour the internet, looking for experts to weigh in. Perhaps you ask your friends and mentors. It could be that you’re just covering your bases, but it could also be that you want reassurance.

The funny part is, there are two flavours of reassurance. One is where you know the right move and you just need confidence in making it, and the second is where you want to make the “wrong” choice, and you want someone to tell you it’s the right one so you can defend it. 🙂

It’s that last that I want to talk about.

Making the “wrong” decision

If we take as a given that trust in yourself is crucial, and that you already have it in spades, then we can start to examine the deeper conflicts that surface.

Sometimes it’s just that you didn’t realize your own drive. I know that, until recently, I couldn’t figure out why I felt that throwing myself into social media was completely wrong for attracting the clients I wanted to work with. I’m a very gregarious person, and have no trouble talking about my brilliance, but the whole game seemed to be out of sync with me.

Finally, Chris Anthony pointed out to me that if the primary traits I wanted in my clients was confidence and drive, it made sense to arrange my intake in such a way that people had to come to me on purpose, with a purpose, and so even if they actually felt lost and uncertain, I could point out that they had, in fact, demonstrated the types of traits I was looking for.

And then all my resistance melted away, and I was in my power again.

Fighting the Enemy Within

Even more sneaky is when the right decision for you runs counter to what you think of as an integral part of your personality. For instance, as I make plans to move, even though I know that it’s in the best interests of me and my family, I’m struggling with it. There are lots of things I had taken responsibility for that I’m now having to withdraw from. This makes me uncomfortable because I think of myself as a responsible person, and when I say I’ll do something, I feel honor-bound to do it.

Pride goeth before a fall

It’s not quite true. It’s ego that goes before a fall, the parts of your personality that you personally identify with. Responsibility. Caring. Independence. Capability. Resilience.

If you think of yourself as a “capable person” and you’re forced to ask for help, that creates cognitive dissonance. If you think of yourself as “caring” it’s far too easy to find yourself a doormat.

Furthermore, that inner conflict is hamstringing your confidence, like having an enemy in the castle keep. And that’s why you seek out gurus and experts, desperately hoping for the way out of this harried, unproductive state you’re in . Because it’s not you, right? It’s not like you to struggle to make these kinds of decisions, is it?

If there’s any advice I can give, it’s to pay attention to your visceral reactions. I noticed a friend diffidently offer me help, worrying that it would hurt my pride to take it. And I, noticing my instinctive, “Thankyou, that’s very kind, but I’ll handle it myself” wondered why I wouldn’t.

It wasn’t the pride, apparently– it was the sense that if I couldn’t handle the problem now, when exactly WOULD I develop that ability? To me, it’s very important to have the skills to handle almost anything.

Noticing those reactions is very akin to reprogramming paradigms: they’re little brother version called “belief systems”. They’re often quite laughable when you identify them. Useful up to a point, of course, but not as dogma.

Just like I’m still a capable person when I find someone to guide me through a problem rather than trying to figure it out on my own. Sure, it’s not the same as hands-on experience and struggle, but now the decision is “How important is it to me to have this experience?” not “Since when am I the kind of person that lets other people fix my problems?”

So tell me, my darlings, have you run across this dynamic before? How did you handle it? Are there any belief systems that have become suddenly apparent to you? Share in the comments!


5 thoughts on “Ego Goeth Before a Fall”

  1. “…if I couldn’t handle the problem now, when exactly WOULD I develop that ability?”

    ahah! and the/one of the answers to *that* question is: “As you Work With someone else who has already done it themselves, and see and do things alongside them, instead of blundering along ‘all by yourself’, and struggling to re-invent the wheel.”

    (and, after re-reading this Again, I see that you answered that, too, in the last couple of ‘graphs! – oh, the perils of commenting before reading and digesting!)

    Bright Wednesday Blessings, madear! ~K

    1. I don’t care how you comment, I appreciate that you took the time to comment. And I love it when you go digging through my archives, and remind me of all the stuff I’ve written in the past.

  2. Very interesting, too, the difference between “I want to make the Right Choice…” and “I want to make what I ‘Know’ is the Wrong Choice (according to who, exactly?)” …

    Many directions to go digging in that quandary ~ 😉

    1. It’s the according to who that’s tough. The easy answer is “Other people”

      But the hard answer is when you want to do something but you feel you shouldn’t because it’s not who you are. That’s a really strong cognitive dissonance with a powerful status quo bias. If you want to go skydiving but “you’re not the type that takes foolish risks” it’s going to be tough for you.

      It requires overwriting what you thought you “knew” about your personality. I had to rewrite my personality after my accident, when I was no longer “the smart one” I had to go and figure out what ELSE my identity consisted of. And to a certain extent, I think it’s important to be fluid in your definitions of yourself. We talked about this a while back wrt “putting down the boat” It might have been true once, or not, but it’s certainly not true right now, in this circumstance

      (and then, of course, there’s the whole other can of worms where you use the things you “know” about yourself to steer around dangerous shoals. For instance, “I don’t believe in rockstar investments, so I’m going to regard anything too good to be true with extreme prejudice” The trick is knowing which is which ;))

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