What is the ego? That little voice inside you that is the source of so much worry, anxiety, and suffering. While this voice will always be there, there are ways to quiet it so that it doesn't have as much of an impact on your life. The first step is understanding how the ego works:
Your ego's job is to feel important, its survival depends on it. Your ego needs to fight and defend itself, the ego needs negative situations to arise so it can have something to do, worry about, or something to change. So even if you're happy your ego will already be looking for an issue to cling to. It forces us to believe that we are what we are, only in comparison to others. We spend energy believing this fiction, energy we could be using to enjoy life.
Your ego can cause harm by taking away you living in the present moment. You get too stuck in your head to fully engage in the moment and enjoy life around you.
Here's a list of how you can identify when your ego kicks in:
These are all common actions that we have all been guilty of at a point in our lives. Having an ego is normal but we need to regulate our ego. So how do you claim your power back? Here are 4 ways to fight your ego:
Comparing yourself with others is something your ego will always do. Once we compare our achievements and past performance with our present, we sometimes fall short. Our ego will punish us and make us feel useless, which can affect our self worth. Our self worth is subjective and should never be compared to others. Not comparing ourselves means that we shift our attention on becoming conscious about ourselves, and trying to destroy our unconscious habits (believing we're superior and invincible).
Put yourself in rooms where you are the least knowledgeable person. Observe and learn. That uncomfortable feeling you might get, that defensiveness that you feel when your deeply held assumptions are challenged? Do it often, and let that experience and feeling humble you. A physicist John Wheeler put it, “As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.”
Negativity is the source from which self-hatred, self-sabotage springs - and our ego loves it. Challenge yourself to stop complaining for a week, even a month and notice what happens. Whenever you feel the urge to have negative thoughts, try to come back to gratitude / positive thoughts and see how life can open up for you. The ego always wants to improve on the current moment, which you will find yourself pointing out what's all wrong. Don't let it drag you down that path.
We are not our jobs, we are not our achievements, we are most definitely not our egos. The second you let your ego control your life, you will never feel relaxed or happy. Your ego starts saying “it all must be done my way” - even little things. The solution is to recognize your limits and reaches. Learn to manage yourself and others. John DeLorean was a brilliant engineer but a poor manager (of people and himself). One described his management style as “chasing coloured balloons” - he was constantly distracted and abandoning one project for another. It's just not enough to be smart or right. It may feel good being the egotistical boss at the centre of everything - but that's not how organizations grow and succeed. That's not how you can grow as a person either.
Although we all have that voice in our head, with these 4 tips we should be able to claim our control back and grow as a person. Your potential, the absolute best you are capable of - that's the metric to measure yourself against, not comparing yourself to unrealistic measures.