Written by Benjamin George, who you can find on Twitter @BenjaminGJW and benjamingjw.com. Initially a thread, Nathan asked for me to adapt it to an article. To add some context, I have grown a following on Twitter by writing self-aware content in which I express my doubts, concerns and inner world related to various topics.
Have you ever gone through an exercise of introspection and self-reflection?
You know, one of those instances in which you have a conversation with yourself where you try to analyse your whole person, to identify both strengths and weaknesses. Personally, I’m in constant self-reflection and conversation with myself.
Related to my online presence, my self-reflection is always geared towards identifying what I do wrong, which are my weaknesses and where I need improving. A necessary exercise to avoid becoming an idiot, speaking plain and simple.
However, an exercise of introspection which I find harder to do is the one done to notice which aspects I’m personally good at in regards to my online presence. This is, to actually understand what I do right in regards of having an audience and where I “add value”.
Usually, when you grow an audience online, you do so by adding value to those who follow you. This can be via entertainment, teaching skills or bettering one’s life, and it sometimes it is hard to identify where one is good at.
If you’ve ever gone through a job interview, you will be familiar with the usual: tell me three good things and three bad things about you. Everyone finds it easier to say the three good things first, only to then have trouble in saying three bad things about themselves.
However, this is because we are all putting on a show, as we want to curate our image and are nervous in showing dents to our persona, in regards of the interview. We all want to cause a good first impression, after all.
Deep down, in any other situation besides an interview, I personally find it easier to see where I have weaknesses and can improve, over where I have strengths and actually do well in.
Try to have an honest conversation with yourself and identify which are your weaknesses and strengths. Contrary to your answers to the above interview question, I bet you find more weaknesses than strengths, and I also bet it is harder to truly be honest about one’s strengths.
Don’t ask me why, I don’t know the reason myself. It takes a lot of third person viewing and true detachment to view our strengths and what are the traits or skills we excel at.
Going back to the thread Nathan asked me to turn into an article, I have found that one of my personal points in my favour, both in regards to my online persona and real life personality, is that I am constant in my exercises of self-reflection, which lead to self-awareness.
Self-reflection, and the end result in self-awareness, is an exercise and skill that can be learnt, honed and practiced, and it results in many benefits. A person that knows himself is a person who knows a lot of valuable information others don’t.
What initially turned me into starting this personal study of myself was having an uncontrollable ego.
In trying to understand my own ego, serendipity has granted me with a decent self-awareness, which both helps with keeping my ego in check and to grow an online following (wow, imagine having both on the same scale of value…).
My personal case of having a big and uncontrollable ego is not unique, as it seems many people suffer from an uncontrollable ego these days, mainly due to Social Media. Read an article on megalomania or narcissism and I can bet most of us can relate, it is the age of ego and solipsism, after all.
An uncontrolled ego and narcissism are one of the major ills of our present society and, in my opinion, they are one of the main reasons millennials are unhappy and lost. However, this topic can be explored another day.
Being an uncontrolled ego a popular occurrence, I sometimes sort out people into two groups: people who are taken over by their ego, and people who are conscious about their ego.
As a caveat, it is pointless to affirm one has a total control over their ego; that would, ironically, be an egotistical thing to say. What I mean to say is that there are people who do not get constantly taken over by it.
Self-reflection and self-awareness are necessary to take control over your ego, to not fall for it and to have a healthy relationship with oneself, because:
If you are possessed by your ego, you are weak.
It may seem a harsh thing to say, but I am calling you, dear reader, weak; because most people are part of the group of people taken over by their egos. If most people are part of that group, most of you reading are, well, part of that group. Basic statistics.
If you notice yourself getting angry, annoyed or offended by reading this, know that it is not you who is getting offended, it is your ego getting offended. Your ego feels hurt and, especially, it feels its position at the driver’s seat is been challenged.
This ends Part I come back next for the Finally