Welcome to the Ego!
Definition: There are no 100% accurate way of defining the ego so I am going to try and give as big a picture as I can on how I would describe the ego.
Task: We have hundreds of thousands of thoughts per day. Have you ever taken much notice of those thoughts? Do you obsess over things as in: you have an argument or a confrontation with someone and you play it over and over in your mind – what you should have said, what you will say when you see them next time. Are you worried about something happening and constantly thinking about what you will do when/if this happens? Throughout the week, whenever you think to do so, just “watch your thoughts” – don’t judge them, don’t try to stop them, don’t criticise yourself for them, just be aware of them.
Day 1 – Introduction to the ego
- You know when someone says oh that person really loves themselves they have a big ego, what they are trying to portray in my opinion that the person is arrogant. And this to some extent is correct, the ego can be arrogant but I really want to stress here that being arrogant and truly loving yourself are not the same thing. I will discuss that more in topics to come.
- There are many ways to describe the ego – arrogant, selfish (again don’t mistake this for self-love) ignorant, harsh, judgemental, confrontational, jealous, greedy, envious, worrisome and the list could go on.
- The ego is not something you can get rid of but it is something you can most definitely be aware of and something you can control to a certain extent.
- It is a natural part of being human and not something we can fully get rid of nor should we want to because the ego has an important function in our lives.
Day 2 – What is the ego?
- The ego is the voice in the head. It is your thoughts and you might be asking right now well what else is there? But there is more to you than just ego, who/what watches or notices your thoughts?
- The ego is a worrier and if it has nothing to worry about, it will invent something.
- The ego causes us to overthink things and greatly fans the flames of anxiety.
- When you judge something or somebody, that is the ego. It is natural to judge things in terms of keeping ourselves safe for example “Is this hot or cold? Will it burn me?” but it is not natural to judge people harshly and criticise people just to make yourself or your ego feel good.
- The ego is stuck in the past or the future, hardly ever focuses on the now, it is never happy with what you have right now. It either wants what you had in the past or what you could have in the future.
- The ego likes to make you right and others wrong. When having an argument, the ego will fight to the death because it thinks it is defending its honour or that if you lose the argument that you will be harmed in some way – this is where the term “bruised ego” comes from. But when you look at this in reality, you may have lost and argument but did you die??
- We aren’t born with an ego, it starts developing in young children at the age of around 2 when they start to identify with “things” and claim ownership of them. If you take a toy away from a child, they might kick and scream for a while because they have identified with this toy. Their ego is telling them “this is my toy and it completes me in some way”. But give it a few hours and guaranteed the child will have forgotten about that toy and move onto something else to identify with.
- In the same way, us humans are addicted to buying material things. “If I could only have that car, then I would be complete” “If only I could win the lotto, then I can buy anything I want and then I’ll be complete.” The ego buys into this illusion that material things complete us or in some way add to our identity. We are trying to make ourselves complete when actually we are already complete. We do the same thing with people. “If I had this or that person in my life then I would be complete.” But the harsh reality is, you could have all the material possessions and desirable people in the world and they will never complete you, why? Because it is an illusion created by the ego, only you can see for yourself that you are already complete, your ego never will. The minute that you realise this, you are set free…that is until the ego takes over your mind again.
Day 3 – How does the ego affect our lives?
- The ego can have a deep impact on our lives overall but those impacts can be positive and negative.
- Over-thinking – The ego causes us to think about things over and over and over again. Once you become aware of this, that it is your ego controlling your thoughts, you will begin to take control of them.
- Relationships – When our ego has a powerful hold over us, we are blinded by it and that can affect our relationships. When our ego is in control, we react to things unconsciously, really we have very little control of how we react to someone or something which rarely ends well. This can cause tension in our relationships and over time unless you do something about it, it can cause lasting damage. This can also make it harder for other people to relate to us and they may well pull away from the relationship.
- The Ego can affect our self-esteem – The ego in us is constantly judging other people and then in return we judge ourselves in relation to them to see if we measure up. There are three most likely outcomes from this 1. We feel inferior to the person we are judging, we feel we are lacking in some way and that we are not good enough, this damages our confidence and overall self-esteem. 2. We feel equal to the person and we can then relate to them quite well, possibly strike up a meaningful connection with them. 3. We feel superior to the person we are judging, we feel we are better than them in some way and this can lead to arrogance. I don’t know about anybody else but arrogance is not an appealing quality to me, and there is a huge difference between arrogance and confidence. And the complicated thing here is that, you can have those three judgements about the same person many times over and that could be in the space of an hour!
- When the ego is in control, we don’t have much self-awareness, this can have a negative impact on our bodies – we tend to “live in our minds” and not pay much attention to our bodies. Constant worry and unchecked feelings and issues can lead to a weakened immune system and can also lead to disease in the body.
- As I said yesterday, the ego lives for the past or the future and this can affect our ability to enjoy and appreciate what we have now.
- Finally the ego has one hugely important effect on our life and that is it affects our drive to succeed and get what we want in life, our desires and wishes are born within the ego. Our ego drives us forward and motivates us to do better and achieve many successes. Yes at times we suffer as a result of our ego but this helps us to grow. The most important question here is – Are you controlling your ego to your advantage or is it controlling you?
Day 4 – Going forward with the ego – Top tips
- Try to be aware of your thoughts as many times as you can each day, be aware of whether those thoughts are focused on past experiences or future ones.
- Then bring your awareness back to the present moment by focusing on your body, take a few deep breaths and be aware of how you are feeling right now.
- Mindfulness is fantastic for helping us return to the present moment, if you don’t already practise it, I would highly recommend it.
- Being grateful for what you have right now is also a great way of bringing your thoughts back to the present moment.
- The more you identify the ego in yourself, you will begin to see it all around you in others.
- Focus on what is going right as appose to what is going wrong in your life.
- Controlling the ego in yourself, isn’t something that happens all of a sudden, it takes practise so be gentle with yourself and don’t beat yourself up if you find your thoughts slipping back into the ego pattern. But I honestly can say, each time you catch yourself slipping back into that pattern, your awareness builds even more.
- Trust that you are whole and complete and that you are doing your very best in any given moment and that you are genuinely a great person, we all are deep down, for some it may be buried deep under hurt anger and an out of control ego!
- Now is all we have so the best gift you can give yourself is to start living in the Now moment and appreciating what we have right now in the present moment. That is why it is called “the present”.