It is helpful to study oneself in relation to the three malas (the three illusions or lies). While we may recognize our participation in all three malas, we operate primarily out of one. It relates to our sacred arch, that structure which holds our ego or conditioned self together. If we were to penetrate that area which is the stronghold for all our unclarity, all the other illusions would fall away easily. The sacred arch is our strength, what we do best. Behind this ability is our weakness or mala, that illusion which is the greatest source of our unclarity. Therefore, to determine in which mala we primarily participate, we must look first at what we do best.
A person lost in the mala of doership is very good at doing things. S/he is able to take on projects and stay very busy doing them, and often volunteers for projects or takes them when no one else will. Such a person thinks that "doing things" and "getting things done" is the key to success. Actually, all the activity is a place to hide from the real issues underneath. The defenses of this person are also focused on "doing", in that the doing or not doing of others is the cause of one's own doing or not doing. "That's not my fault, someone else did such and such." Blame is a prominent defense. Underneath, there is a fear to be still, for this is the unknown; in stillness, the unpleasant aspects of oneself are revealed and must be faced; in stillness, gifts are revealed and responsibility must be taken.
A person lost in the mala of separation is outwardly very much concerned with community, unity, doing things together, harmony, the well-being of others, taking care of others. They are often peace-makers. Such a person is interested in the "spirituality of love" and does not like to focus on details and precision. These seem less important and obstacles to the "real" concerns mentioned above. This person is more present, happier, in the subtle world than in the physical world. This person may be more focused on "spiritual practice" than worldly development, regarding the two as separate. S/he responds by saying, "That's not me", separating self from a situation, denying that one is separate, denying that one is not loving, caring, thoughtful while "forgetting the baby at the supermarket". Underneath, there is a feeling of being quite disconnected from everything, of being less than the infinite source of creativity and power, of one's own parts being disconnected, one from the other.
A person lost in the mala of imperfection is concerned with perfection . . . perfection in physical appearance, perfection at one's job, perfection in one's total presentation . . . professionalism, doing things right. This person often has a lot of knowledge and "knows the right answer", often to his/her detriment of being able to maintain openness and allow new information to come in. S/he often becomes impatient with others when they don't follow his/her mode of thinking, and may find it easier to give information rather than ask "real" questions. S/he justifies unconscious activity with rational thinking and good intentions. Underneath there is a fear of being wrong, incapable, stupid, ugly and unworthy.