The false needs to be defended to make it seem real in the defender's awareness but defense does not make it real; defense merely makes the false seem real but does not make it real.
If you feel physically weak and compensate with desire to seem powerful and posit a powerful self-concept and self-image that you want to become that false self would motivate you to do things that seem big; you would feel angry at those who treat you as if you are not big. However, despite your desire to be powerful you are still not powerful; you can merely pretend to be powerful.
Ego defense does not make the desired big ego real; defense merely makes what is defended seem real but not real. (Stop right here and think about what I just said for if you understand it you are now ready to give up whatever ego defenses you employ to shore up your false ego and begin to live spontaneously hence happily and happily.)
You are not a big and powerful self despite your wish to be so. You remain a human being and a human being lives in a weak body hence feel physically vulnerable; any number of things, including germs do destroy the human body, and when the human body dies worms and bacteria eat it.
One makes one's life miserable by wishing to be powerful; in pursuit of the big self-one is not relaxed and cannot relax and socialize freely or learn easily.
One of the reasons why Africans and black Americans do not learn quickly and easily is because they are too ego defended. They find it difficult to learn what many people consider easy stuff. It is not because they are unintelligent, as white racists believe, but because they are inflexibly ego defended. When they let go of their ego defenses and live relatively egolessly (all people on earth must have egos, we are talking degrees here) they learn better.
White folks tend to be less ego defended hence learning quicker. This semester most of my students are whites. I believe that I have two black students in my classes so I pay attention to their behavior. They are as intelligent as the white kids but you could see that they are ego defended hence are slower learners. I talked to one, a mixed white-black student; he is now making As in the examinations I give to them. I told him to transfer to Harvard for he has what it takes to attend the best schools in the world. If you can make A in my classes you can make it in the best schools in the world.
As any professor quickly observes, Asian students learn best and make the best grades; the reason is not because they are inherently smarter than other students but because, on the whole, they are less ego defensive; their Hindu, Buddhist and Tao and Confucian based cultures teach them to let go of their egos and not defend their false egos hence their minds are free to learn. We must figure out a way to make Africans less egoistic hence less defensive so that they become better learners. Africans are not as dumb as racist claim; their inner psychological selves prevent them from learning stuff easily; they sweat over easy stuff.
If you engage in ego defenses to make you seem big you are wasting your time for you are not going to ever become big! It is pointless trying to seem big; you might as well give it (big ego) up.
Lest it appears like I am moralizing against the ego, I must quickly point out that ego defenses are not consciously chosen; they are existential; a child feels physically and or socially weak; he feels like his physical life is threatened and he desires to live; he attempts to use a magically powerful self that he believes that if he is it he would be able to banish his weakness hence survive.
That is, the big self was invented by a weak feeling child to enable him survive in body and in the world but it does not help him survive.
All that the false big self does is make the child live restricted existence; therefore, for his mental health he has to let it go and not be ego defensive.
I speak from personal experience; as a result of my inherited medical issues, cytochrome c oxidase deficiency and spondylolysis, in childhood I felt physically weak and posited a big self and pursued becoming it. My unconscious belief was that if I attained that big self I would survive; I believed that being a weak self-meant that I would die.
The big self-motivated me to struggle to attain it. In pursuit of the big self, as the world sees these things, I accomplished some impressive things. If you are an African who is not from a rich family and you had PhD in your twenties and became a professor thereafter you are probably considered an achiever.
The negative aspect of the pursuit of a big self was that if you slighted the big self that I wanted to become your death would not bother me one bit. If you dared, and I do not care who you think that you are, such as the president of the world, to say or do something that made me feel small I would feel angry and when I feel angry destroying you would be a pleasure for me. I bore grievances and did not forgive those who slighted me. Seeking vengeance was part of my psychological makeup.
For example, when I got out of secondary school and was admitted by several American universities, my parents struggled to come up with the money to pay my first year's school fees. None of my father's brothers contributed a penny to my going to America. Thereafter, I wanted nothing to do with them and did not relate to them until they died! You get the idea; I bear grievances for wrongs done to me.
The pursuit of the big self-restricted my affect, my emotions. I tend to be somber and serious most of the time and do not relax and easily laugh. I enjoyed humor but did not easily tell jokes; life was a serious matter, a struggle to survive.
In time I realized that no matter how much I tried I am not the powerful ego that I desired and will never become it.
The desired big self merely limited my spontaneity. Since it is restrictive I had to let it go and become ego defenseless.
Of course, I still defend my body by eating food (and taking medications when needed, although I do not remember when last I took medications).
As of now, I am no longer defensive of the imaginary big ego self that I had once wanted to become. Being ego defenseless has made my life relaxed, peaceful and happy.
SELF AWARENESS IS KEPT IN MIND TO PREVENT ONE FROM DYING BUT DEATH STILL COMES WHEN IT WANTS TO
The individual keeps his self-concept and self-image, ego, in his awareness and does not want to let go of it; what he is doing is to prevent his ego self from dying. He feels like if he lets go of the awareness of his ego he would die. That is, self-consciousness is part of ego defense, the ego's struggles to live in body.
(Elsewhere, I explained the various ego defense mechanisms; they are repression, suppression, denial, projection, displacement, rationalization, sublimation, reaction-formation, fantasy, avoidance, pride, shame, fear, anger, guilt and so on. Read them and find out how you use them and which ones you over use. Paranoid persons, for example, over use the defense of denial and projection. They see something in them and deny it and project it to other people and now see it in other people and then hate them for being what they denied in them. Many Igbos, for example, see weakness in them, deny it and project it to other Nigerians and now hate other Nigerians for being what they denied in them, weakness; instead they pretend to be powerful when they are not.)
Death will come to one when it wants; self-consciousness does not prevent death and one might as well forget one's self-consciousness and flow with life without restrictive self-consciousness.
I am currently working furiously editing a 600 pages manuscript that I have to send out to publishers in a couple of weeks. As I read it I had an insight. The book, tentatively titled "The three Levels of Being", is a manual for living well!
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Ozodi Thomas Osuji
December 5, 2016