Everything is my fault: I am so very good at connecting any failure or mishap, big or small, to my own actions. If one of my loved ones is not happy, it is probably my fault for not doing or saying the right thing. If my students are not succeeding on some measure, it is my fault for not planning better or knowing better. For a long time I had convinced myself that this kind of thinking meant that I was a responsible person who was willing to take responsibility for my own actions. Lately, I am realizing that I am assigning way more importance to myself than I really deserve. I am in fact claiming that I am much more powerful than those around me and that they have no control over their own lives and choices.
I can please everyone: It is a good thing to want to bring joy to others, but to think that I can actually make everyone happy, is a sign of a pretty big ego. To try to please everyone requires a lack of integrity. People have a wide range of expectations, some reasonable, some not. In order to meet all these expectations, I would have to compromise at least some of my own convictions. So it’s egotistical and hypocritical to try to be a people pleaser. Instead of “pleasing”, I can aim to love and serve.
I am a perfectionist: Often we confuse the pursuit of excellence with perfectionism. One is a virtue, the other not so much. I know that we often brag about being a perfectionist, but to think that any pursuit can actually be perfect hints at superiority and egotism. Striving for excellence, trying to get better, always being reflective and in a learning mode are all dynamic, moving processes. Aiming for perfection, is static and often frustrating, not to mention impossible.
Who can be truly happy when feeling guilty, taking the blame for others’ unhappiness and pursuing the impossible state of perfection? When we recognize that the patterns of thought that bring us such misery, are rooted in our ego, it is easier to work at abandoning them. Because who wants to be called egotistical of all things?