Our country fought against British rule to gain Independence — similarly, we should also fight against our inner demons and attain freedom from pain and sorrow.
It is important to realise that our biggest inner demon is our negative ego. Negative ego is that which makes us feel that we are superior to others. Superiority could be in looks, in wealth, in health, in intelligence, etc.
The worst part is that we do not realise when we actually develop a big negative ego. It builds up over time, over experience, over situations. For example, there would have been times where people would not take us seriously and then we tried shouting at them, scolding them, etc and they would have listened to us. This would make us believe that to get things done, we should shout and make ourselves heard. This develops into an attitude where we think that things should be the done the way we want them to be done. Similarly, if one is praised often about his/her looks, it builds an ego within that person about his/her good looks. The same thing applies to wealth, health, intelligence, etc.
This negative ego deludes the possessor by making him feel that everything he/she does is right and the world is at his/her feet. Moreover, it also projects itself in a way to make the possessor feel that he/she would be suppressed upon without the negative egoistic identity.
This negative ego may give temporary happiness — when people listen to us, do things the way we want and appreciate our looks. But it is imperative to understand that those people who listen to us and appreciate us are also doing it out of some selfish interests they might have. And when their selfish interests are no longer being fulfilled, they will immediately stop fuelling our negative ego. So, in the long run, the negative ego is bound to give us sorrow and unhappiness because there will come a time when we come across people who are superior to us in the same aspect we are egoistic about. And then, we will feel inferior, depressed and sorrowful.
The best way to get a reality check on our negative ego is to observe our feelings when someone praises us or when someone criticises us. If we feel happy when someone praises us and feel bad when someone criticises us — it is a sure sign that we do possess this inner demon of negative ego. However, if we remain happy/neutral when someone praises or criticises us — it shows that we have no negative ego.
It is extremely important to note that till one does not fight and kill this inner demon — one cannot enjoy actual happiness in life. There are lots of people who have been courageous and fought against this inner demon, and they have experienced glimpses of that pristine and pure happiness on every stage of their inner fight.
The first step towards killing this inner demon is to overcome the fear of what will happen if we let go of our negative ego — will people no longer listen to me, will people suppress me, will people not appreciate me, etc? We need to be assured that once we kill this negative ego, we will realise our true potential, our true self, our true identity, our pristine consciousness.
The second step on this path is to gather courage and ask our near and dear ones as to what our shortcomings are. No one knows us better than our close family and dear friends. While asking them to point out our shortcomings, we need to make sure they feel that we will be open to their criticism — regardless of which aspect it is about. And once they point out faults, we should ensure that we act upon their positive criticism and make it a point to change ourselves for the better by killing our entire negative ego.