March 12, 2020
At a definitional level, Ego is simply the self-image of who you are. Ego is the sense of “I” that is essential for people to functionally deal with one another.
My Ego creates a separation between who I am and the rest of the world. It helps me distinguish myself from my fellow human beings and everything else that is a part of the life around me.
Ego is born out of my experiences starting from the early childhood, going into early adulthood. These experiences get cemented into beliefs that shape my ego. As I grow older, the focus of ego shifts from accumulating new beliefs and strengthen my sense of identity, to preserving the identity I have created about myself.
Over time, Ego becomes an unhealthy belief in my own importance. It makes me self absorbed. The separation between me and the rest of the world starts filtering through judgement. I(the I here is my ego) have a judgement about everything with reference to who I am. Ego evaluates everything in the framework of good or bad. Anything that reinforces my sense of “I” is good and anything that challenges my sense of “I” is bad.
- He does not approve of me
- She was judging me
- He is challenging me
- He is so helpful
- He is useful to me
Ego manifests in different ways in our life.
When we are aspiring for something meaningful, looking for achievement, the ego seeks validation. “Am I doing the right things? I hope people like what I do.”
Through life as we experience success in achieving some or many of our goals, we develop confidence in our skills and capabilities. The success feeds our ego mutating our confidence into arrogance. We start developing an inflated opinion of ourselves. “I know how this has to be done”. ” He has no clue how to deal with this issue”
Inevitably, we will also experience failures and pain that comes with it. In order to protect our carefully crafted self-image from the pain, ego shows up to save face and dodge responsibility. “I did no wrong, its not my fault, I can’t be blamed, it’s not my problem.”
Ego is delusional. It is fictional. Our Ego is the product of some truth and a large dose of imagination. We spend years building our ego and reinforcing it with our thoughts, behaviors and actions.
While ego has its place in shaping the experience of our life, when we learn to subdue our ego, we experience some powerful benefits. For one the boundary between “I” and the rest of the world comes down. We experience a sense of unity with the world. Because we don’t see ourselves different from others, our sense of judgement comes down dramatically. When judgement goes down, our personal power expands.
Humility is the Kryptonite that will keep the ego in check. Humility will teach us to do things rather than aim to be somebody. How do we invoke humility when the ego has taken over our mental frame of reference? Start by acknowledging that your ego is just a fictional representation of who you really are. Become aware of your ego. That’s the first step. Observe the judgement you have about people, things around you. See if you can start reducing the amount of judgement.
You will know you are making headway in managing your ego if you find yourself judging lesser. Make that one of your life goals.