3: Your Ego Fears Your Art

These highlights are derived from Section I: Chapter 3 of the book The Heart to Start by David Kadavy.

The Self wishes to create, to evolve. The Ego likes things just the way they are.

—Steven Pressfield

This next Quote will be the last question your ego will ask:

“When you’re too scared to start, it’s because you don’t want to get hurt. You feel love or affection or lust for an idea, but what if it rejects you?

Your Ego Makes Excuses

Here is the solution:

“Yes, it hurts when your artistic efforts don’t live up to your hopes and dreams. But be wary of when fears of this keep you from even starting. Even though your true Self is trying to get out, your ego is always there to keep it in check.

“Many people think of the ego as being the thing that makes you arrogant. If you have a big ego, you strut around, believing you can do anything. Have you ever noticed that people with the biggest egos are actually the most scared and insecure?

The ego’s job is to protect the Self from harm. If you puff up your chest or criticize others, you create a source of protection. If you show that you think you’re great, maybe others will believe you. If you say that others suck, then you can convince yourself that you could do better.”

In the next passage, it refers to Sean who is suffering from a debilitating bone disease, however, he still radiates positive energy:

“…criticizing others wastes energy we could be using to grow. Sean said, “I’ve never found a bully that was doing amazing things with their life…. Successful, happy, well-emotionally-balanced people don’t have time to shit on somebody else.

“Ego doesn’t just make you act arrogant or criticize others. Ego also causes you to make excuses for yourself.

The reason ego exists is comfort

Ryan Holiday, Author of Ego is the Enemy

“If you put your Art out there, it might not be any good. So the ego will come up with excuses to not start. You’re still doing research, you don’t have the time, or there’s a crack on your laptop screen.”

Whatever excuses your ego comes up with, they’ll never be about you. They’ll always be about some outside force. But the excuses really come from inside.

In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield called this phenomenon “resistance.” In any artistic endeavor, you’ll always face resistance. Sometimes resistance comes in the form of raw fear. But usually, it doesn’t. This is because admitting you’re scared does too much damage to the Self. That’s why the ego is so good at coming up with other reasons.

Upcoming quote is the bread and butter of the chapter:

“This is the third law of Art: Your Ego Fears Your Art. If you start making your Art, you’re going to expose your Self to discomfort. You’ll have to resist distractions to do the work, you’ll have to struggle through doing work that doesn’t yet meet your standards, and you’ll have to face criticism to make your work better. It’s the ego’s job to protect you from this discomfort.

“Nobody is ever going to have a perfect alignment of ego and Self. We’re all full of hot air from time to time. This will ebb and flow over our lifetimes. You have to build the skill of recognizing when your ego is taking over. You have to build the skill of fixing it when it does.”

Ready for a curve ball?

Ego Seeks Relationships

“When we aren’t ourselves, one way our egos can seek protection is through romantic relationships.”


“I had been looking for outside approval by seeking a relationship, and I had been looking for outside approval by living according to a definition of success created by others.”

“…the discomfort you endure pursuing your Art is better than being delusional.”

“It’s more comfortable to work where you can blame things that go wrong on a coworker, your boss, your boss’s boss, or even The Board. When you’re on your own, you quickly learn that only you are responsible for your own success or failure.”

Your ego fears your Art because if you follow your Art, you will self-actualize. You will become your true Self. But to do so, you will experience failure, and rejection, and fear. This is hard, but it’s rewarding. You will finally know the truth. Your ego wants to protect you from harm. That’s why it’s always telling you that it’s not your fault, that you should blame others, or that you should play it safe. The same way a rocket needs to escape the gravitational pull of Earth to get into space, your Art needs to escape the pull of ego to get into the world. You’re going to need some serious fuel to make that happen. That’s what we’ll cover in the coming chapters.”

Up Next- Chapter 4: Curiosity First

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