It seems to me that our lives are ruled by our sense of identity. Having a clear idea of who you are and feeling you belong to a certain group are paramount.
There are very negative sides to how a group identity substitutes our basic insecurity about how to behave and what to believe. The masses can be easily manipulated by ‘strong leaders’ who give them a clear sense of who they are and what to believe. Racism, for example, also has its roots in reducing personal insecurities through fortifying the sense of group identity.
Identity also plays an essential role in other ways. One example is identifying with a ‘lifestyle.’ Commercials on TV try to brainwash people, convincing them what great individuals they can be when living a certain lifestyle.
Basic to having a sense of identity is the need for some idea of self to hold on to. In essence this actually is a spiritual desire, because it relates to wanting to know who we are. Yet nobody knows who he or she is on a fundamental level.
So the primitive, subconscious way of giving an ‘answer’ to the question of who we are, is replacing that real ignorance by a fictional identity. This ego–identity then becomes the source from which we generate our ‘self–confidence,’ so we can feel secure in who we are.
But because of its fictional nature, this identity does not have a real foundation, so it is very unstable. And people often instinctively use this as a weapon.
If you pay close attention to how people interact, you’ll see that there is often a ‘dance of self-confidence’ going on. One person makes a remark in which he or she portrays the other in a certain (good or bad) way and then the other reacts to that by trying to enhance or reverse that image of them.
If we have a discussion with someone and that person reacts in an insecure way, we instinctively react to that insecurity by becoming more self–confident. However, if that same person would have reacted in a very confident way in that same discussion, our reaction would likely have been different and we might have even started to doubt ourselves.
So confidence is often more important in determining the outcome of a discussion than facts, due to the insecure nature of our egos.
Having an ego isn’t a bad thing. It’s a positive element in our evolution as human beings. But if we identify with it too strongly, the outcome is quite delusional.