In my work I’ve dealt with startups and I’ve dealt with companies that have existed for decades or longer. The latter have often developed many processes, procedures and habitual ways of doing things that have previously contributed to success, but have now become a liability to the long-term future of the company. In competition with the new, rising start-up companies, they have to adapt or perish. This is often a painful experience, due to ego investments, personal pride, old habit, and predictability, yet it is required in order to secure the future.
This is not much different than a man, having faced a crucible finding the red pill. Whether he be a 45 year old who just came home and found divorce papers. It could be a 21 year old “good boy” who cannot understand why the bad boys are getting all the women, who gets told “Don’t worry you’ll get her in the end when she realizes she wants a “nice guy”, who reacts as Mark Baxter put it in his last podcast with Rollo (I’m paraphrasing), “Do I really want her after she’s been pumped and dumped for 15 years?” .
At this point in his life, he’s been manufactured as a beta, created as a product to satisfy the need society has for “good boys” to be the safety net of women once the women realize that they cannot compete with the new generation of women for alphas, and thus that they need to settle down. There is a reason why no 22 year old woman has ever uttered the statement “where have all the good men gone?”, while it is a mainstay among women in the 28 – 35 age bracket looking to settle down. His ego is constructed around the fact that he has no dark side, he is the embodiment of pro-social behavior, and he follows the age-old social contract. Depending on his stage in life, he may have amassed an impressive career, built a nice, comfortable life for himself and is only missing that one checkmark on his list, the wife and kids.
At this point he may hunt down a prospect, get married, have a couple of children, and for a moment in time he experiences the realization of his blue pill illusion. However, as with all illusions, once the curtain is pulled away, the smoke vanishes and the mirrors break, there is very little left.
The Ego Death
The ego represents the conscious part of our “selves”, the self-image that largely governs how we conduct our lives. In Freudian psychology it is the moderator between social programming (super-ego) and our natural instincts and urges (ID). In Jungian psychology, the ego is the conscious part of the “self”. Our actions become patterned by this self-image, as we start to view ourselves as “I do this because it is who I am”.
For instance, a man may put off divorcing his cheating wife because he views doing so as not being congruent with his ego, or super-ego values. Another man may refuse to utilize game in the sexual market place, because he views doing so as being manipulative, and according to his brand of morality, manipulation is wrong.
Joseph Campbell outlines this in his book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” that the hero faces a death (real or symbolic), which results in a change that enables him to go beyond the limitations of his previous life. The protagonist controlled by the internal messages that influence and shape his psyche, is prevented from breaking down the walls that limit his imagination and cannot transform into the hero until what makes him non-heroic is removed.
Thus, the ego he has constructed must die in order for a new self to arise from the ashes of the old one. A new ego, better than the old ego, and more capable of asserting the desire of the man under the constant onslaught from his community and his baser nature. Our egos are formed through our interactions with the world while we are at our most vulnerable, when we are young children relying on others to defend, provide for and take care of us. Thus, they still carry the scars and old wounds that never healed from that period, which are no longer threats. They still carry the internal messages sent to our super-ego, and the consequences of letting our ID reign free over our lives.
The problem is that most of these messages came to be as a result of us pushing the limits and facing negative consequences. Taking a fall while attempting to climb a tree, having to go the hospital to get your leg put in a cast, seeing your parent’s terrified faces, the concerned looks from the doctor, and having to watch your friends playing outside all summer while you languished in your room. Such an experience may influence a person never to push a physical limit again, because the perceived consequences of that appeared to them to be life-destroying at the time. Likewise, taking a social risk such as performing in front of an audience, failing and then facing social ridicule for months may cause a similar reaction when it comes to taking social risk.
These risks are never as severe to us as adults, but appear life crippling to us when we are young, thus this emotional- and psychological state is the crumbling foundation upon which our present ego is constructed.
Let us take the example of the man who takes on the task of improving his sexual market value. He improves his physical appearance through nutrition, exercise, fashion, body language and grooming. He gets out there and practices game every day, and implements it throughout his life. He changes his lifestyle to be more suitable to him. Yet, after much work he has not change the way he perceives himself, because what he did was to put an new paint job on an old car. He rebuilt the outside, but never paid much heed to the inside. Once you open the hood, there are loose hoses, rusted parts and things are held together with duct tape. This was actually the state of many of the men who learned early game, they appeared like a shiny, new car on the surface, but once you popped the hood, it was broken.
The rebirth of the ego is very much about renewing your self-perception. If one does a google search there are plenty of stories of people who have made impressive self-improvements, yet their present state is not reflected in the way they perceive themselves. People who despite demonstrating intellectual acuity regard themselves as stupid, people who have lost weight yet view themselves as fat, men who have put on much muscle but who still regard themselves as skinny, and countless others. This stems from a disconnect between the external reality that can be observed and the internal interpretation of reality. For instance, those who suffer from anorexia will see themselves as obese, despite the fact that they are at excessively low levels of weight.
We form our ego under immense pressure at the time in our life when we are most vulnerable, the foundations of our ego are the internal messages we are imbued with during our childhood, when we allow ourselves to be destroyed out of our own choosing, we as Emperor Palpatine said, become stronger than you’ve ever imagined. Those things that we were previously invested in become sunk costs, yet we are free to ignore them. Those people who we made into our gods become mere mortals again. Those ideas we held sacred can be permitted to die so that new and better ideas can replace them.
In that regard, the state requires our ties to our old ego investments to die, so that new, and better ego investments can be formed. So that we may renew our view of ourselves, the world, and how they affect us. More importantly, so that we are able to view ourselves, both as part of the world, yet apart from it.
Summary and Conclusions
I rarely share anything of my own journey on this blog, this is for a multitude of reasons, the primary one being that I seek to divorce the ideas from the man. However, in this case I think it relevant to share some of those aspects of my journey that lead to the death of ego in general terms.
Those internal messages that lead to the destruction of my ego was, in no particular order:
- If you do what is right, you will be rewarded
- Always do what society would want you to do
- Always leave them better than you found them
- All that matters is the love in your heart and the strength of your character
- Your value is derived from being a great worker
Some of these messages in and of themselves have been dealt with in various essays scattered on my blog over the past 2 years, some are essays to come. When I realized that these “rules” were all false paths towards Nirvana, and did not contribute to me reaching my goals so much as me accomplishing the goals set for me by society, the foundation of my ego crumbled as it was built on sand.
As I found myself at a point of both mental and physical exhaustion, driven down by events that appeared to the me at that time as outside of my control and beyond my grasp, a wave washed over me and it made me realize that those things that had concerned me were false, those things I worried about were illusions and that my time is finite.
This is somewhat more towards metaphysics and the esoteric in that they reflect those deep, difficult to grasp and define states within a person, yet they can be made very concrete in their actual manifestations in life. If you are concerned about the social consequences of being rejected in some regard, those who would seek to levy them against you, are those who never dared to face that rejection. If you are concerned about the financial consequences of failure, the ones who would lord that failure over you, are those who never dared to make the attempt.
 The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell