Can consciousness exist without an ego

Self-confidence: our fragile ego

Self-awareness is one of the most important characteristics that make people human. But how do we become aware of ourselves? And why is self-confidence so often a haven of problems?

Some feel great just wearing a fresh top, others need a complete make-over. Some do not allow themselves to be shaken by even the roughest criticism, for others a lopsided look is enough. Behind all of this is our all-too-human self-confidence. A difficult to explain, deeply philosophical factor, which is inherent in every human being and which has an enormous share in the development of character and the perception of the self. This article explains self-esteem and shows you how to strengthen it - or moderate it if necessary.

Confidence: One word, many definitions

Even if you just let the word self-confidence go through your head, it becomes clear that it is actually just an umbrella term under which “levels of consciousness” come together as individual aspects. Only when combined do they give a complete - and complex - picture.

The consciousness of the self in all its facets

"Who am I?" This question is perhaps the most central in human history. This is where the first definition of self-esteem occurs:

The fact that we are ourselves as individuals
recognize, look at and acknowledge.

Humans are not the only living beings that are aware of themselves. Because even if research in the field of animal self-confidence is enormously difficult due to the communication hurdles, there are at least strong indicators that we humans are not the only ones who can perceive ourselves.

What has been proven according to the current state of affairs, however, is that no other living being has such a complex ability to perceive itself. Many animals recognize themselves in the cognitive mirror test; However, this low-threshold knowledge is an ability in humans that already emerges in infancy. As development progresses, human self-confidence becomes more and more complex and multi-layered - however, it also varies in strength from person to person.

Self-worth and its facets

"A healthy self-confidence". Once again, a definition of the term can be broken down into just a few words:

Recognizing and classifying one's own worth in the environment
of a group or of society as a whole.

It is precisely here that, in contrast to the first definition, there is the even more person-dependent and branched out component of self-confidence. The reason for this is that value definitions are not only subject to historical and cultural change, but also that the ability for self-reflection is different in each person.

This is where the root of why many people have an ego that deviates from the cultural mediocrity can be found here.

A philosophical component

In philosophy, self-confidence is one of the oldest and most discussed topics. The famous saying of the philosopher René Descartes is related to this:

"Cogito, ergo sum"

So I think I am

It is interesting that this sentence and the way of thinking behind it are still central today. At the same time, the philosophical self-confidence debate has turned into a much more interdisciplinary research focus. No more only philosophers, behavioral researchers only, neuroscientists only deal with it independently of each other, but there are joint research efforts.

A sentence from Professor Doctor Olaf Blankes, head of the Laboratory for Cognitive Neuroscience at the Polytechnic of Lausanne, which deals with the neural integration of prostheses, among other things:

"The basis of our self-awareness is based on brain mechanisms,
which different signals from our sensory organs to one
merge stable, global body representation "

In other words: manner how we are self-aware depend on all of our senses and the brain working to the full. The optical components seem to play a particularly important role. At least research by Prof. Dr. Blanke, so that for him the Descartes statement is more likely "Video, ergo sum" - I see, therefore I am, reads.

Why is it so important

Why is it important that everyone is aware of themselves and their worth in society? There are several reasons behind this:

  1. It is imperative to produce individuals. A society without self-esteem would behave like a group of toddlers, i.e. only imitate behaviors. The consequence would be an outspoken herd behavior; Depending on the characteristics, also with a "lead animal".
  2. It is essential to moving a society forward. Without self-confidence there would be no knowledge. As a result, there is no need for changes to be recognized. A self-conscious society would forever stand on the spot.
  3. It is a central part of what can be defined as a canon of values. Without self-confidence, it would be difficult if not impossible to define what is right and wrong.

These points apply unchanged to the individual as an individual: Without self-confidence, we could not be to the extent we are used to. We would have no (more complex) likes and dislikes, could hardly feel satisfaction or dissatisfaction.

Confidence: Born in the cradle?

It has already been mentioned that even infants are able to interpret a reflection of themselves as an image of themselves. So does that mean that self-esteem is born in the cradle? Unfortunately, no.

From early childhood education

A newborn baby has, roughly speaking, no self-esteem. Everything that a person at this age perceives happens completely and, above all, directly through sensory impressions. Everything he does is initially only driven and impulse-controlled. What is inherent in us, however, is the urge and the ability to imitate.

This is primarily a pure survival mechanism: only those who learn quickly to learn from parents and other people will get the knowledge they need to survive themselves. This does not, however, distinguish humans from the majority of the animal kingdom: copying and imitating belong to the central survival strategy of a species in the entire spectrum of mammals and far beyond.

In humans, however, the addition of imitation processes through the higher performance of our brain also leads to the development of an ego - this is where our own perception in the mirror is hidden as the first noticeable stage of this decade-long process. What we imitate from our parents as infants form the basis of self-confidence. It is refined more and more year after year. From the sum of:

  1. Adaptation,
  2. Habit,
  3. Conditioning and
  4. imitation

However, it would be wrong to see a person's self-confidence only as the sum of what he experienced through his ancestors. Because already in infancy - here the already mentioned sensory impressions take on a further meaning - develop forwards and aversions that can be completely different from what the parents set an example. Classic example: the baby who simply doesn't like spinach, even though the parents spoon it in an exemplary way and want to suggest the highest level of enjoyment.

A sum of experiences

While in the first years of life it is primarily the behavior patterns that are lived and imitated that determine self-confidence, this process changes over the years. Because just as we gain more and more experience, we also learn more and more precisely to classify ourselves.

This also begins at a young age. For example, a child who stumbled in the dark the first time he tried to walk will often remain insecure about the dark for a long time.

This sum of experiences is also important because it is a decisive criterion in upbringing: A young person who is always praised “unduly” can just as much get a false (here excessive) self-confidence as someone who is the other way around .

As a result, it is crucial for parents on the way to develop a healthy self-confidence in their offspring to give the child a center line. Only then can it recognize the value of its own behavior and orient itself. In fact, this factor can remain of central importance throughout life - at least in later years it is more difficult to realign this “compass”.

The social normative

The social normative therefore also plays an important role in self-confidence. So right and wrong, good and bad, normal and abnormal, as dictated by the society in which we live.

It is precisely here that the stated north-up is important: Unfortunately, even a careful upbringing does not guarantee that self-esteem will always remain optimal in later years. This is because societies and their values ​​are changing. The definition of moral and amoral behavior, appearance, even likes and dislikes are subject to constant change - good to see, for example, how much ideals of beauty have changed over the years and centuries.

Social change is so common that it makes it difficult for those whose self-confidence is less pronounced. Today, for example, high social expectations are seen in many places, which demand perfection in professional and private life - sometimes enormous pressure, even for people with very strong self-confidence, as it takes a certain type of ego to stay true to one's line despite external criticism can.

Taken the wrong turn

But the question arises: Why do many people have a self-confidence that is either too low or excessive? It's due to several factors that went wrong in the past:

  • Bad experience in the closest personal environment - such as constantly nagging parents or, conversely, overly praising parents.
  • Too few opportunities for autonomy in childhood, but also too much freedom without the possibility of strong, positive group pressure as a corrective.
  • Too many contacts with people whose self-confidence is dramatically different from their own - for example someone with a normal ego who works in an environment characterized by fierce competition.
  • Personal strengths and weaknesses, both physical and psychological, which deviate strongly from the social norm or exceed it.

Taken together, all of this can lead to trends becoming stronger. Here, too, the amount of experiences can be seen that add up and thus lead to an increasingly solid self-confidence in the course of life - unfortunately also in the event that it is too strong or weak.

Indeed:

Any misrepresentation of self-confidence can be corrected.
Man is capable of learning into old age. That's why it always is
possible to readjust one's own consciousness with enough will.

Confidence: this is how you strengthen it

In today's society at least it feels like the majority of those who see themselves as having a low self-esteem. But how do you correct it?

Made small or felt small?

First of all, you have to ask yourself what part others have in this: Are you mainly being made small by others or are you making yourself smaller than you are?

In the former case, the first step must be to contact these people:

  1. to remove from one's own environment,
  2. to make their misconduct clear to them as far as possible and
  3. convince yourself that it is not your fault.

However, if the opposite is the case, making yourself smaller than you are, it is necessary to surround yourself with strong, supportive characters. Because: copying does not end with the childhood days. We can always control our self-confidence by adjusting our behavior. If you have a supportive environment, self-perception automatically improves.

Put yourself in the right light

"As you come gone, you will receive". Although this term appears to only apply to external perception, it is also directly linked to self-perception. In other words: how you act, you feel like it. But how does it work?

  • You adapt your appearance through clothing so that it corresponds better to social norms and emphasizes your own strengths while hiding your weaknesses. This works with small body size, for example, through a corresponding choice of color, vertical patterns and slim cuts, as there are suitable solutions for all other conditions that deviate from normal dimensions. Although fashion in particular is strongly oriented towards uniform sizes, there are ways to get the best out of yourself, even if you don't conform to the standard sizes.
  • You stand up, pay attention to a generally straight, forward-looking posture. It is important to keep checking your posture in mirrors, shop windows and the like. Also very important in this context: smile.
  • You set yourself goals that you have to overcome. But only those that are within reach. There is praise for that. If not by others, then by yourself. Yes, you definitely have to be able to praise yourself.

Very important: If your own ego is too weak, you will very often be your biggest critic. However, self-criticism should be limited to a healthy level. Because hardly any external stimulus can have such a lasting negative effect on self-esteem as our "inner complainer".

Acceptance as a basis

You can change a lot in yourself in order to gain value in your own eyes and those of others. By far the most important factor in this, however, is acceptance of one's own self:

No one is perfect, no one will ever be.

It helps a lot to be aware of your own strengths and to mention them to yourself with praise - if necessary, by turning your life upside down by choosing a new professional environment.

Confidence: This is how to mitigate it

People with a large ego automatically have an even bigger problem: They often fail to realize for a long time that their self-esteem is far too great. A realization often creeps in only over years and in the face of heavy rainfall. However, it is precisely then that correct action must follow.

Me or my ego? The little difference

"Self-knowledge is the first step to improvement" - says not only the vernacular, this is also true from a psychological-scientific point of view. But how do you get to know yourself? Above all, by learning to distinguish between what you think yourself and what only looks like that through the ego.

How it works? You have to listen carefully and honestly to yourself:

You do / want something because you want it from the bottom of your heart
and finds it right, or only because it makes you feel
Promises recognition and attention?

Granted, this is not easy and it is easy to overlook these subtle inner nuances. But if you honestly want to work on yourself - and only these people have any chance of curbing too much self-confidence - you can do it if you ask yourself the above question often enough.

Not the center of the world

Many people have excessive self-confidence because they were told and demonstrated time and time again that they were extraordinary. Such arrogance, perhaps nourished for life, is not infrequently followed by a deep fall. After that, however, the realization should mature and nurture that you are not the most important person in your environment:

  • partner
  • job
  • Friends
  • family
  • Living environment

Everything that makes up the personal society of every person only works at eye level, because everyone contributes with their strengths and weaknesses. Nobody is worth more or less in it. This knowledge, too, often has to mature over a long period of time.

Learn to trust, reduce excessive self-confidence

In many cases, an overly large ego is also based on the inability to trust others sufficiently. Especially in terms of shared skills. Healthy self-confidence means being able to let go, trusting that others will not make it much worse or often just different.

But like the points mentioned above, this is not easy and above all a fight against yourself. But it also shows that everyone has it in their hands: In the background, our self-confidence is always learning.If you only learn to listen to yourself, there is almost always a voice that gives you a surprisingly correct middle ground - that closes the circle of self-confidence again. Because this inner voice again represents a deeply philosophical phenomenon for which there are many explanations between biochemistry and religion.

Conclusion

Without self-confidence, there would be no person who sees himself as an individual. The fact that it appears in so many facets is ultimately the key to human diversity. However, one has to understand that much of it is a sum of experiences and decisions - and is therefore never set in stone, but remains malleable for life.

April 6, 2020