Many of our struggles in life are related to how we see ourselves, how others see us, and how we want to be seen (by ourselves and others).
The impression we have of ourselves is our ego.
The ego sometimes feels strong, and sometimes feels weak and vulnerable.
Sometimes you feel superior to others, and sometimes you feel inferior.
But the ego is an impression. It is true to an extent and false to an extent.
When we become invested in controlling how others think of us we become their slaves, and we often become too invested in something we can't directly control.
It's possible people hold a false impression of us, and that can make us feel we're being judged unfairly. Therefore, we try to fix what others think about us. We try to prove them wrong or explain ourselves, as if who we are is dependent on what they think.
We try to control other people's mental content and feel responsible to fixing it. Otherwise we can't move on and can't live out our lives the way we want.
The ego is shaped by perceptions, which are often shaped by past behavior and incidents.
The image we have of ourselves is the script we live by.
It is often defined by who we are and who we are not.
We resist incorporating things into our identity (for example, being healthy) and resist abandoning aspects of our identity (for example, being a smoker).
And so we perpetuate the negative patterns in our lives based on who we think we are and feel ourselves to be.
The solution is to let go of ego and embrace our human capacity to change our identity and grow into something we've never been but can become.
If only we get out of our own way and not cling to the decisions we've made in the past.
It's not easy, but the more we accept our capacity for change and the more we realize we are not who we are or who others think we are we can adopt the virtues and behaviors of the person we wish to become.