The dictionary definition of ego is ‘a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance.’ Our ego is mostly subconscious but comes out through the voice inside our heads. Approving or disapproving of our actions or reactions, and those of others. The ego can be helpful, if kept in check and reality tested, or harmful if not. It can be the messenger that helps us along when we need a pick up, or it could be controlling and destructive. Ego is not only about superiority and confidence, when we feel inferior that’s also the ego talking. Wishing we were as good/rich/smart as others comes from a place of ego.
How do you know when your ego is talking?
Usually our egos react in defence. When we feel challenged or criticized, we react defensively to protect ourselves from embarrassment or shame. When you’re present a piece of work and the feedback is not what you expected, your reaction might be that you think you work with a bunch of idiots. That’s definitely your ego making sure you’re safe from hurt feelings. Another sure-fire signal is when you are desperate to be right. Are you really making a point or do you just want to have the last say?
Some other signs are:
- You blame others when things don’t work out according to plan
- You talk about yourself a lot
- You feel jealous when others succeed
- Gossiping about the flaws of others makes you feel better
- You tend to sulk
When we are in this place of being ruled by the ego, we’re often unhappy, angry and discontented. We view others as enemies or competitors and don’t get to grow or learn from the richness of diversity around us. The good news is that there are ways to banish that part of our ego that insists on being defensive.
Tame the beast!
Let go of comparison and competition. You don’t have to win or be better than everyone. You only need to be the best version of yourself. Constantly competing produces stress and feelings of inadequacy.
Stop gossiping or putting others down. When you engage in gossip, you do so to make yourself feel better, but if fact, it has the opposite effect. It reflects badly on you and upon reflection, often we dislike ourselves for having gossiped.
Stop reacting and start responding. Instead of taking a step back and looking at a situation in its entirety, we jump to react when urged by our egos. Sometimes just holding back and taking a breath can save us from being mean and petty before we know the whole story.
Don’t take things personally. Not every situation pertains to you and when you constantly relate it to yourself it breaks down confidence and induced paranoia. Just accept what is, not what you think is happening. Try not to worry about how others see, or think of you because even if you do, it makes no difference.
Have empathy. When you put yourself in the shoes of others, you become less inclined to judge and react. Instead you start to understand those around you better, which leads to better relationships and problem solving.
The power you give to the circumstances you encounter is what will rule your life. If you are able to tame your ego when the going gets tough and react rationally from a place of calm, you are much more likely to achieve your goals and build strong relationships. The more you keep your ego in check, the more balance you will experience.
If you’re struggling with your ego, whether it be superiority or inferiority, it’s a good idea to connect with one of our coaches at Azkua. Working out what’s holding you back from being your best self is our priority!
Lynette Croxford. Guest author and Azkua Network Partner