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Self-Love and the Ego

(For more on this subject, click here)

Even though many people do not like egotistical individuals, also known as those who take great pride in their personality and achievements, along with those who prefer themselves over others, it is still plausible to claim that egotism is not morally evil and/or corrupt by itself. The reason is because we are all, or most, egotistical people, in terms of priority. A quick example to prove that is by asking ourselves the following question: would we prefer to be someone's minion, or have our own minions/henchmen to do our bidding?

Surely, the terms "minion" and "henchman" are very degrading, and very few people would actually call themselves somebody's minion. It's because our self-esteem is usually far more respectable than to have that title attached to our identity, whether we are egotistical or modest by personality. In other words, the ego plays an important part in the way we respect ourselves, and because many of us do have a certain level of self-respect, many or most of us have our own ego.

That is also the irony of egotism—many of us might despise it because the egotistical person views themselves as of greater importance than to our own, while in reality, it is not their modesty we seek, but their appreciation to us, to our own ego. In other words, we seek others to prioritize our own selves rather than their own, because that is far more comfortable to our egos than the opposite, than to see them expressing their love to themselves (surely we would want them to love ourselves than otherwise).

In that sense, it's safe to say we are all egotistical people to an extant, whether we intend to appear as such or not. In the end, our own being is also important in the grand scheme of things, and few are those who like to be considered unimportant, if not worthless scum. Most of us have the desire to be loved as we would want to love others, to be appreciated, respected, and so on. Thus, what is wrong in a bit of self-pride, then? To celebrate our own positive distinctions, our own merit and accomplishments?

Those who are impressed are of no problem in that regard, but on the contrary, those who are repulsed by such innocent, non-maliciousness-intending behavior—it's likely that they want some attention as well, instead of spending their own attention for someone else. Ironically, it's the exact kind of egotism they might criticize as being either repulsive, illegitimate, immoral, or any other adjective that is based on their own lack of comfort.

This is not to say that they shouldn't have that attention be dedicated to them as well in these moments of interactions or impression, but it is to say it is a bit hypocritical, to appreciate humility as a virtue, mainly if not entirely due to the reason another's levels of self-pride repulse their own experience with said person.

Surely, a person who is altruistic enough would tolerate the sense of accomplishment/pride one may hold to themselves, when the latter has no intention to hurt anyone else by doing so (and no, I'm not talking about myself as an example). The honest egotist would simply admit, at least in the company of their own thoughts, that this person is of not much interest to them, instead of calling them a snob, an arrogant, and so on (something which they themselves may be, completely or partially).

In other words, the true altruist would put themselves in a much lower position than others not because of their own lack of self-confidence, but because they will not cause harm to others, who do not intend harm as well, egotistical or not. What contribution is there, in the eyes of the altruist, to shame someone for publicly expressing the fact that they love themselves?

What harm is there, to be proud of one's accomplishments, that makes another be angry at them for publishing said expression to the world at large? In other words, he or she that truly wish to contribute to the world, will not do the exact opposite to others. There is no contribution, of course, in making the exact opposite effort that you wish to grant to this world.

This brings us to another insight—not all people with an above-average ego wish, necessarily, to harm others. Furthermore, some may express their love to themselves from innocence, if not from a certain level of naivety, AKA, of not fully understanding the impact such expression may make, in a society that prefers humility over self-love. The fact one loves themselves, doesn't mean they do not love others, let alone, consider themselves more superior than the rest.

We can say that self-love is something that society at large has yet to be enough "progressive", so to speak, to appreciate the fact that people don't have to love others in order to be loved; we can be both the lover and the loved. What fault is there, therefore, in being emotionally self-sufficient? Do we always have to find a partner to love us, when we (at least some of us), can love ourselves and call it a day?

When you are a loner/reclusive/hermit, self-love is a very important option to consider developing, because otherwise one's solitude might be far more difficult to those who are confident enough to be in the company of themselves for so long. In solitude, there is a certain effort to make; an effort not many may realize that is required to be done in order to endure this state of being. Hence why solitude is, in some way, glorious, because it's a skill, and often a difficult one to fully master; something to work on consistently in order to make it work.

On the contrary, I even lose money as a writer due to my advertising campaign. Thus, not only do I write almost entirely for free, I lose more money than I earn. Surely, a pure egoist would not write as a volunteer and lose money while doing so altogether. Would you volunteer and pay for it at the same time? It doesn't sound like a very attractive offer, but I myself don't mind, because my desire to contribute to others is stronger than my desire to be constantly praised.

I think the ultimate insight we can take from this article is this: our experience of one's egotistical expressions should not hurt our own ego, especially when such expression had no intention, whatsoever, to hurt us in the first place. As we expect others to not consider themselves as far more superior/worthier than us, such expectation should be directed to our own character, as well.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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