Going Through the Gate of "The Outcast"
Many attempts the ego makes to prop-up or enhance identity - even when obviously toxic - are rooted in an innocent need. The need to belong.
How much hyper-competitiveness is rooted in the simple need to have value reflected back to us from the tribe (even as we alienate the tribe trying to achieve our goal)?
This is another area where evolutionary biology makes things tricky. As a species, we are intensely pack-oriented. The small group was the unit of survival for the overwhelming majority of our history. It is literally imprinted on our nervous system (we have an intensely pro-social system).
This creates the most fundamental (and difficult to work with) relational paradox:
I am irresistibly drawn to others and wired to care about them and connect with them, but simultaneously there is a deep sense that others are unsafe, that they will wound me, that they will judge me, and they will ultimately shun me.
It requires a lot of spiritual strength to evolve through this basic dynamic. In moving through it, we are working with different facets of the primal fear of being left. Going uncared for. Being the outcast.
You will notice that almost every enlightened being you can think of was initiated into this archetype in some way. They went "to the woods." They were shunned. They willingly embraced what the ego most feared at the biological level. And they inherited unshakable freedom as a result! And their tribe "reconstituted." They formed new lineages, new bonds, new families, with the fresh energy of compassion, clarity and awakening.
Interestingly, there is not a single person we can think of who went through this transition that doubts whether it was worth it. For all the gravitational pull of conditioning, at the end of the day, we are literally exchanging "death for life". It is not even close. We are living in a much, much small part of ourselves than we realize.
Remember that when the ego is trying to bargain with you.