Leo Babauta tells a story about a girl who realizes that people have within them “gems” that others cannot see, which they feel are very important and need guarding. However, these gems were having a negative impact on the people that held them, including herself. When the girl realizes this she decides to do something about it:
So that day, she stopped trying to protect an imaginary gem. She stopped trying to be right, to be seen as good and competent and smart and perfect, to see herself as a good person at all times. She stopped thinking that other people’s words and actions had anything to do with what she imagined herself to be. She stopped trying to protect her position and self-image.
We are often driven to extremes to procure and protect our gems. Our obsession with them begins to be reflected in our faces, our feelings, in how we speak to others, and in the decisions we make. We become vile and selfish as we guard them.
But they do not exist.