Purpose as protection against an inflated ego

Last month there was a huge discussion in the Dutch media about a musician who used internet tolls in the past, to enhance his online profile. It might have been less shocking, if the same musician wouldn’t have recently advocated for more honesty and openness on the internet.

What’s gotten into him, what inspired him to do so? That’s a question many people ask. According to his own explanation, he was too insecure and too eager to become successful.

Somehow he seemed to miss the discrepancy between his words and his action, between his ideals and reality. But how could he have missed that?

Let’s start with what attention does to people. As an artist, you get a lot of attention from people you don’t know. All the attention does something to your ego. It can inflate your ego. An inflated ego is like a balloon, it’s not protected against bursting. But you don’t realize it. It changes your perception on what is happening around you.

In an earlier article, I mentioned two different sides of what can happen to your ego. One of them is diva behavior. You think that you earn that attention, that you are better in some way than all the others. The other side is imposter syndrome. You are afraid that others might discover that you are not that special, that you actually don’t deserve their attention.

Both extremes are associated with an inflated ego. You can suffer from both extremes at the same time, switching from one to the other within seconds. That kind of switching can make you pretty dizzy and disorientated. You lose your sense of moral direction.

Many famous musicians, like Madonna, Bono, Michael Jackson and Prince, are very spiritual people. Believing in a higher good, in something that is bigger than yourself, protects your ego against bursting. They serve the bigger good.

Another form of protecting your ego from bursting, is to know what your purpose is. It doesn’t have to be religious. Everything that gives your art meaning, that tells you what you are doing it for, what you want to bring to your audience, serves as purpose. It can be engagement for literacy or against poverty, for humanism or against discrimination, for veganism or against violence. It’s important to know though, that money and fame are only means, they don’t serve as good or purpose.

A purpose comes from within, like the warmth of your skin. It’s not a coat you put on and off, depending on the weather conditions.

If you want support in searching for your purpose, I’d like to help you to discover it.

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