The 'Number 1' Syndrome: Quashing the Illusory Ego
Numeric systems do not belong in the province of human character evaluation, degrees of compassion, and commitment to one’s core focus. Why, then, was the phrase, “You have to look out for Number 1” ever invented? Query: Who or what is ‘Number 1’, and what are the requisites for attaining that status?
In the daily course of human interaction, receiving the highest acknowledgment is often associated with name recognition, career advancements, or standing in the social hierarchy. Peer groups, colleagues, educators, and others, authorized to operate the external validation meter, determine where people are situated (at any given time) on the rungs of the gradation ladder. Ego, the ultimate arbiter, presides over the proceedings, solidifying ‘Number 1’s’ position, often through the deliberate subordination and demoralization of others in so-called “lower,” “more inferior” positions. Through Ego’s orchestration, ‘Number 1’ basks in the illusion that he or she is “the best” and “the greatest,” while others clamor for his or her spot, feeling hurt and humiliated, at the mercy of Ego’s deflation.
Then, in an instant, based on a purely arbitrary assessment, ‘Number 1’ is precipitously demoted. “What?” exclaims the disgruntled soul. “What am I to do now? I have completely lost my identity.” Evidently, reduced ‘Number 1’ erroneously assumes that he or she was assigned a value, either by the all-powerful external validation meter or another extrinsic influence, who has subjectively (and capriciously) reassigned that designation to someone else.
In a desperate struggle for renewed self-aggrandizement, former ‘Number 1,’ guided by the dictates of Ego, declares, “I must look out for ‘Number 1!’ In that individual’s mind, the very assertion of greatness makes it materialize in the form of one or self, inevitably leading to the systematic devaluation of others.
Toppling and reconstituting from one moment to the next, the valuation system continuously changes, and somehow, the lives that experience that conundrum must find a way to disentangle themselves. The cure for ‘Number 1’ Syndrome involves the summary annihilation of Ego, which, no doubt, will receive the shock of its illusory life.
Since Ego is strictly a human concept, far less real than temporal sensory perceptions, it does not exist in the physical world. Thus, neither surgical extraction nor psychological analysis is required. A simple seven-tiered approach will effectively obliterate the noxious intermeddler, which persistently threatens to mar individual and collective happiness. To illustrate:
(1) Take the self out of the equation as the sole concentration and move into a collective mindset. In so doing, the self automatically factors in, as virtually everyone is an integral part of the Whole.
(2) To the extent possible, desensitize the self to the external validation meter. Blocking out judgments of the self is difficult to accomplish, especially since all of us are, at one point or another, influenced by what others think or feel. Latching on to positive reinforcement alone is an efficient way of avoiding devaluation (though, in no way, do positive statements or opinions define the self any more than negative impressions do).
(3) Listen for the buzz of internal judgmentalism, either of the self or others, so as not to integrate or project the external validation meter. Self-congratulation or its converse is merely imprints of the meter (which, as mentioned, alters constantly).
(4) In each moment, strive for excellence, without a view to an outcome, but for the sake of the journey toward personal and collective evolution.
(5) Cease to strive for individual gain. Rather, commit to a mindset of service for the greater good, of which the self is a heartbeat - along with the countless other selves striving for mutual and reciprocal love, joy, constancy, and peace.
(6) Make the self an example, not to be glorified and praised, but a humble template for other lives.
(7) Project inner light, such that radiance of the self gives without taking, fostering a merger of selves, in which all can benefit and thrive.
Following the above steps is as easy as a thought. When translated into action, the illusory Ego will effectively leave the building (the body and psyche), and ‘the Number 1 Syndrome’ will be decisively cured. The self then integrates and becomes indistinguishable from the multitude, and there is nothing left to prove – only to be.
© Gabriella Gafni