We were born with the genetic predisposition to take everything in life personally instead of just as it is. This is the root cause of virtually everything that ails us in life. It's the father of all the negativity and failure we experience in life. - All the erroneous thoughts, painful feelings, misguided speech and actions we engage in. All the wrong relationships. Wrong desires, motivations and goals. We call this "normal." The "way it is." The "human condition." Acceptable human being.
You "thought" you were doing the right thing in life. Committed yourself to a career path, got your degree, got married, bought a house in the 'burbs, had a family, joined all the right clubs, and "thought" you'd live happily ever after. But you're not really happy. Not fulfilled. Why not? Aren't you living what the politicians and con artists tell you is the "American dream?"
Well, maybe if you have another cigarette, another pill, another Martini, or another slice of chocolate cake, you'll be happy. Maybe if you make more money, get more power, maybe have a lover on the side. - Someone who really understands and appreciates you. That would be the ticket. But you eventually figured out, after many years of therapy and an expensive divorce, that that's not the ticket.
The ticket is to stop being so self-centered and self-absorbed. It's not all about you. Never was and never will be. Being self-centered is like a horse with blinders. The personally-biased perspective you were born with has altered your whole concept of reality and consequently has misinformed most of your decisions. You've only seen half not the whole picture of anything!
When we talk about freedom, we usually mean freedom from a particular symptom - like from a bad habit, person or situation. But freedom in this higher context means freedom from the ego which is the cause of all negative symptoms. Freedom from the personal ego is freedom in the highest sense of the word.
Christians call it salvation. Buddhists call it Nirvana or Bliss. Overcoming your ego won't be easy because - again, to you it's perfectly normal and natural. You don't know any other way to live. It's your very identity. So to change it, you're going to have to as if learn a foreign language. And practice it diligently until it becomes just as natural as your current false identity!
As your ego falsely colors all you see, hear, think, feel and do, the remedy is simply to keep a distance from all you see, hear, think, feel and do. Don't participate in the error. Keeping a distance or space from all internal and external experience is how you overcome the ego. You can't really kill it because, for the ego, that would be like committing suicide. So you have to transcend it. Neutralize it. Go and live beyond it. So you don't have to kill or punish yourself; just balance or center yourself. Your ego shouldn't have too much of a problem with that.
You may still live within the same social framework and structure of education, work, family, picket fence and all the rest - just as before. But now the quality and character of your life is much more elevated, intelligent, loving, healthy, joyous and fulfilling. Now you're living on a higher plane. You're living in reality instead of personality.