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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Don’t Take Yourself Seriously Part 2: Ego, Maslow and All That




Seriously, it's time your ego lightened up!

Seriously, it's time your ego lightened up!

While you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously, you must take your Self seriously.


I’m talking about the distinction between your (lower case s) self and your (capital S) Self, aka your True Self or Spirit. (If you’re curious, I discuss Carl Jung’s distinction between the larger Self and the ego-self and how that influences creativity in Dancing in the Dragon’s Den.)

For the purposes of this blog, your ego-self is your usual, everyday awareness of who you are. It’s the part of you that cares what other people think of you, what you look like, how you’re perceived, how much money you have, what kind of car you drive, what your job title is, what groups you’re part of and so on. It’s the part of you that cares about the bottom 4 levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:  physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging needs, and esteem needs.  

The highest level in Maslow’s Hierarchy is Self-Actualization. That’s what the True Self’s cares about: becoming the very best you can be, fulfilling your purpose in life, being of service to something greater than yourself. True Self is your connection to the Divine (however you envision that) and to your creative energy and inspiration. This part of you knows that all the scurrying efforts of your ego are relatively unimportant.

There is nothing wrong with having an ego-self; it’s a legitimate part of the True Self. The problem arises when the ego-self thinks it’s the be-all-and-end-all, when we forget about our Spirit and delude ourselves that our ego concerns are really important and all that’s important. In other words, when we take our ego-self too seriously.

Discerning the difference between Self and self and how to keep ego-self in right relationship to your True Self is the work of a lifetime. No one can do it for you; you have to find your own way.

Coming up in the next post: Why It’s Vital You Keep Your Promises.

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