If It’s For Your Ego, It’s Not For Your Soul

Hello all,

This was, despite a relaxing weekend, very stressful for me. I’m sad and regretful that I let things turn out the way that they did, but it was my fault all along.

I realize how dependent I am on success. It’s what keeps me going, and when, for whatever reason, I am unable to continue being successful, everything comes crashing down.

‘Success’ is such a vague word and has a different meaning for every person. For me, it takes the form of many different things. From overcoming a fear, to writing a strong, 500-700 word post on this very blog. And yes, that means that if I do not complete that everyday, I do end up feeling deflated, sometimes even disappointed in myself. These things, in my mind, equal more views, more prestige, more success. Let’s be brutally honest here, sometimes that how I look at things, and I am just like you/everyone else in the world. Except those darned monks in the Himalayas.

This means that much of my feeling of success is driven by ego. In fact, almost all of it is. Because it’s about getting the attention, getting the gold star. Yes, I talk about the importance of humility, but although I am working on it, actually applying such things into one’s life is very challenging, and requires vast amounts of patience and courage.

International Money Pile in Cash and Coins

How will your ego serve you? (Photo credit: epSos.de)

The ego, though, hides the value in such things and turns your focus towards ‘success’. Make more money, be more attractive, win win win. It gets in the way, and if you feed it enough, controls your life. That kind of thinking can only lead to a shallow life in the material.

It’s all about the motive. If you’re doing things for your own personal growth as a person, for the pleasure of doing them, or from the good will of your heart, then it’s not ego driven, or at least less so. It all depends on what the “personal growth” is. Again, is it for something from others or just for yourself. It’s when you do things solely to get the approval of others, or to fuel the fire that is your ego, that’s when it’s time to look again at priorities.

With that in mind, I think there are two things that should hold our focus, as people. One, you will never be successful all the time, and it’s pointless to try so hard for the wrong reasons. Life was never, is not, and never will be about ‘winning’. There is no such thing.

And finally, to remember why you are doing things. Am I writing this blog for the love of writing, for my curiosity to discover, or for the number of views and followers I get? Is it to impress that girl/boy/friend/family member/neighbor/anyone else? Is it to make more money?

If it’s for your ego, then it’s not for your soul. It’s as simple as that.



79 thoughts on “If It’s For Your Ego, It’s Not For Your Soul

  1. Hm, great thoughts! I think you’re right; it IS all about motive.. it depends on what you were trying to do, not necessarily what you have done.
    I think what you’ve said here is great. Sometimes, we do things for pleasure… other times, it’s socially. The latter, I guess, is all about acceptance. But can’t we all just accept ourselves.
    Heh, which is what you’ve already said, so… sorry if this is spam!

    • No no no, it’s not spam! That’s great, I’m glad you wrote. And I’m particularly pleased that I got you thinking. I think motives deserve far more attention than they have right now in our society.

  2. I forgot to ask if you have read The Way To Love: The Last Meditations of Anthony DeMello, edited by j. Francis Stroud, S.J. DeMello was a Jesuit priest who wrote about ego and soul.

      • Hard for me to say if it is worth your time. It was certainly worth my time, and more. DeMello was originally from India, a Jesuit Priest, and a pastoral counselor. He traveled the world and saw life through a beautiful blend of Catholicism/West and Buddhism/East. His writing is focused like a laser beam – short, sweet, to the point, and very inspiring. Cardinal Ratzi, now Pope Benedict 16th, trashed DeMello’s views as anti-Catholic and unorthodox and, if I remember correctly, all but excommunicated him from the Church. Ratzi’s denunciation of DeMello’s writings can be found on the web. After I read Ratzi’s stuff i felt that Ratzi, now Pope, is a mean man at heart. I wish I could loan you my copy. It got me through a health crisis many years ago. It is all dog-eared and loved, like the velveteen rabbit.

      • If the pope doesn’t like it, then I’m instantly interested. There is absolutely nothing that I like about him or any pope for that matter. So I will definitely look into it and perhaps weather it like you have. πŸ™‚

  3. Pingback: Out of That Comes Everything… « Walks with Yogi

  4. Pingback: what does life value « power of language blog: partnering with reality by JR Fibonacci

  5. When I started my blog I did it to cope with getting eye shots. It has now grown into more like I have, but overcoming fear is still a running theme because when we wake each day we face fear in one form or another — even if it’s just: will I accomplish what I want…

  6. Hi, Mrprose I think that all of us do things in order to get something, sometimes for ego, sometimes for the pleasure of doing them and sometimes to satisfy someone else’s willingness. But no matter what your reasons are for doing something, or if you do it well or wrong, there’s always personal growth.

    • I’m not sure if I entirely agree with that. I can’t say all of my actions are ego-free, and the ones that are driven by ego don’t really serve me as a person searching for growth. Those actions are for attention, for money, etc. Let me ask you, are actions for money or attention for personal growth?

      • Not at all. What I meant is that everything you do in this life has a purpose and serves as a personal growth. Because each thing you do leaves you a learning. For example when you do something only to feed up your ego, then you realize that you are being superficial and that you can do more than that. That’s acceptance, and acceptance is a step for your personal growth. That’s only my point of view.

  7. I’ve found that having a blog has been an ongoing lesson (difficult at times) in watching my own ego….I hadn’t realized what a struggle “ego” can be until I started blogging…it’s been an ongoing journey for me to learn to let go of “ego” and rest back in positive motivation of sharing ideas I’ve come up with. You might be interested in, or find useful ideas in, some “images/posts” that I’ve created as I’ve tried to work my way through this challenge….unanticipated lessons for me. http://pocketperspectives.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/seeking-approval/ I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about my own positive motivations for posting and here’s a “thinking tool” I came up with…linking it in case it might be helpful… http://pocketperspectives.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/do-you-ever-wonder-why-you-create-certain-posts-just-wondering/

    • Okay I’ll definitely check them out. I hope you connected with this piece, as I share your struggle with the ego (I don’t like having one, but for now, it’s a part of me).

  8. There’s a long history in spiritual traditions of bashing the ego but it can be helpful to see that all things have a purpose. The ego is in place to allow function in a dualistic situation, that is, being a human and navigating the physical realm. We form a personality in order to interface with our situation. What we are after is bringing our go into balance. If we are overly competitive we can use that motivation to do good works that benefit all. Softening and broadening our perspective with meditation practice to directly experience our place in things, and letting it trickle through to our life 24/7 helps to embrace and better channel our unique set of characteristics rather than compartmentalizing our drives.

    That’s another way to see it.
    Warmly, GJ/

    • I agree, although I see the balance as being less and less ego until you longer have one, and you are completely yourself, as the ego is a false image of yourself, that you have. I think our egos hold us back, actually.

  9. I definitely agree with what you have said here. That being said, let me ask you an interesting question, because I’m curious how you will answer. πŸ™‚ For those of us who practice random acts of kindness and have truly altruistic motives, why do we do it? Is it, in truth, to make ourselves feel good? Doing for others with no expectations and no need for praise or even acknowledgement feels really good. Is this Ego in disguise?

    • It could be. Sometimes it is. But I think it’s because we haven’t explored that kind of thing enough – how are you supposed to know what one’s motives are? If they’re doing it for themselves, they’re doing it for themselves. I believe, though, that humans are capable of doing without the ego, if not today, someday.

    • Hey, I love that! And it’s absolutely true. Here’s the things – I don’t have a conventional view of God, and yet the acronym still works. Thanks for sharing, I’ll definitely be thinking about that.

  10. A thought: The ego personality is as much God as is everything else in creation. It cries out for love. When it is loved without condition or judgment, it quiets down.

    • I have to slightly disagree on that. I believe our we as people need love, but our ego cries out for attention and false fulfillment. It’s quite easy to mistake the two.

      That’s for reading, and I’ll ponder on your thought a little more.

  11. Pingback: My Very Own FRESHLY PRESSED (But I’ll just call it “WELL EXPRESSED” to avoid any infringement issues. Smile. « realeyeis

    • Thank you. I’m honored to make it onto your list, but also appreciative of the gesture – you’re trying to support other small blogs. Thank you so much, and I’ll be checking out your blog a little more often in the future. Thanks!

  12. Success is satisfaction, not happiness. Think about it.. it’s exactly what you’ve written about. πŸ™‚

    I wish I could post a picture quotation. I have one that says: I’ve never dreamed of success. I’ve worked for it.

  13. Hey there….

    Mr. Prose….

    I saw you hit the like button on my last post, great for my ego! πŸ™‚

    and that got me poking around here a bit. whew! very impressive stuff.

    Geezer that I am, I’ve been telling my geezer friends how impressed I am with the young people I meet. They tend to grumble about the whippersnappers. Bear in mind by young people I’m talking about 20-30 year-olds.

    can’t wait to tell them the most impressive blogger/writer I’ve come across of late is 14. they’ll lock me up. come spring me, will ya?

    great work here I look forward to reading more and am honored you found value over at my place.


    • Haha, are you asking me to bail you out? Considering you’re promoting me… sure. The cost is on you though! πŸ˜›

      Seriously though, I’m very thankful you found my blog inspiring, and that I am argue material against your geezer friends. You make me feel proud of myself (ego, I better watch out). Thanks for stopping by and commenting with something so uplifting.

  14. Pingback: If It’s For Your Ego, It’s Not For Your Soul « Wesley24's Blog

  15. Hi Mr Prose

    I was feeling very conflicted about what to write for my next post at soulsnet and then you popped into my like box, please leave me a comment next time!!!!, so I came to visit and found my next theme.

    I have read this post before and liked it. I am glad that I came to visit and read it again. I needed to. I have been blogging for a couple of months now and already am in danger of losing sight of why I am blogging.

    You are right, “If it’s for my Ego, it’s not for my Soul.” I think I did come to blogging for my soul, ego is starting to rear its ugly head, so I am glad for the timely reminder.
    Keep writing.
    You write good, thought provoking stuff, and that’s not to boost your ego.

    I think when we write from our soul that is when what we write is worth writing and reading.
    May we all be peaceful and at ease.
    Corinne at soulsnet

    • Thanks, and I will be sure to pop a comment next time I swing around. Thanks again for the kind words, writing only really means anything if you make it mean anything.

  16. Hi Mr Prose

    Have just finished tomorrow’s post for soulsnet. It’s all about “If it’s for your ego, it’s not for your soul” and of course was inspired by your article.
    I hope you will swing by and take a look. I have said all sorts of nice things about you(hope not a problem for your ego!!) and have linked back and credited you of course.

    The article really got me thinking and actually helped me with a decision I had to make yesterday. I wasn’t at all sure what to do then I applied the acid test “If it’s for your ego, it’s not for your soul” and it seemed much clearer.

    So much good stuff here. I will return.

    Corinne at soulsnet

  17. Pingback: How will I know if I am being true to myself? | soulsnet

  18. Reblogged this on LifeRevelation and commented:
    Corinne at http://soulsnet.com encouraged her readers to check out this post that I am reblogging. Since I discovered Corinne a few months ago I have been drawn to her honest and straight-forward posts. So when she recommended this blog, and then added that it was written by a fourteen year old young man I couldn’t help but click on the address.

    I’ll let you decide for yourself as to the impact this young man has in your life, but I was deeply impressed with his ability to channel his thoughts into a concise, well written, challenging post. I hope you will agree.

    Be encouraged!

  19. Great post. I think it’s all about motivation. If we’re concerned about getting approval from outside of ourselves then we need to buckle up for a crazy ride of ups and downs. The person that has external measures of success is bound to be unsettled, miserable, and anxious. They are vulnerable to the whims and trends of society. The person that is motivated by self approval and uses internal measurements, ends up being pretty happy.

  20. Pingback: Be your true self « libertarianinmind

  21. Love your honesty, I wanted to share a thought which might help in your journey, my main motivation for blogging is that I imagine that there is someone out there who is looking for an answer and god sends him to my blog. Sometimes I imagine ppl seeking deep answers and ppl who are feeling really upset about something and once they read my post they feel much better. Coz I have been there. This I believe is a task handed to me by god. Is that I serve his creation by using my talent.

    To me, my blog is like a water well, where thirsty people come to drink from once in a while, and if I succeeded in serving one right, god will repay me in one form or the other. (law of compensation)

    Rumi says: The one who brought me to this world shall take me back.

    Hope it made sense.
    God bless.

  22. A good way to look at it, I think. “Self-esteem” is an overblown concept. “No man yet ever hated his own flesh”, that’s why it’s “Love thy neighbor as thyself”. I used to be the shyest kid in the class, it’s a self-centered self-fixation, too much worry about myself. I got over it by college and became a guy respected by my friends.

    I later gave my life to Jesus, and helping others comes along with that. Get busy helping others and using your talents, you feel better too!

  23. Hi

    Ego and soul are an ongoing theme in my life and one that I shall probably struggle with until the day I die. However, even to be aware of a distinctoin is some progress, don’t you think? When I am in a dilemma, or even when I am out of sorts these days, eventually I remember to apply the acid test, “If it’s not done for ego, it’s done for the soul” and vice versa, and it really does clarify the issue.

    Recognising that the pursuit of ego satisfaction will always be less fulfilling than the pursuit of soul satisfaction is another stage on the journey, though, don’t you think?

    Ego is like a muscle. The more it is exercised the stronger it gets. Living in an achievement driven society/world makes us easy pickings. The ego can have a field day. Happily the same also holds true in reverse. The more we exercise the soul the stronger that too will get. But the two are mutually exclusive. It comes down to daily, hourly, even moment choice. And in my case a need for constant re-alignment. Not easy, but it was never meant to be. At least we have a compass.

    May we all be peaceful and at ease.
    Corinne at soulsnet.com

    • I think so – even recognizing you have an ego is a step. And I really do agree with what you are saying here, because it is true. You make a choice. And it is that empowerment that helps me through my own life.

      • So glad you replied as it gave me a chance to read not only your reply but also to re-read what I had written.

        A timely reminder. Once again I am getting tripped up by ego. Once again it is time to apply the acid test. If it’s done for the ego it’s not for the soul!!

        Have a good day


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