Before knowing “what is ego?”, hear this short story.
Once upon a time, a merchant went to his neighboring kingdom.
He was dressed in a saffron dhoti with a purple turban that had some shiny objects attached to it.
Upon his arrival, everyone in the kingdom became curious to know who the person was and where was he coming from.
He wanted to meet the king and sell him his turban for 1,000 gold coins.
When he entered the gate of the kingdom. The guards were impressed with his appearance and let him meet the king.
When the merchant met the king. He offered him his turban in return for 1,000 gold coins.
The king was confused, as he couldn’t make as what was special about that turban.
One of the king ministers rose from his chair and went to the king.
He whispered in his ears, “This turban’s worth is not more than 1 gold coin, don’t fall into his trap.”
The king was quick to concur with his minister’s statement and offered the merchant 1 gold coin.
The merchant was a clever man and, he generously denied the offer.
He said, “My King, I am sorry to waste my time and yours’s but I think I came to the wrong place.”
He continued, “I was told that out of all the kings in this world only you could understand the value of this turban and offer me 1,000 gold coins.”
The King just felt a blow to his ego, and he didn’t want to lose his reputation.
In order to protect his ego, he asks his minister to offer the merchant 2,000 gold coins instead.
The merchant gives a sharp smile to the king, thanking him for his generousness, and accompanies the minister to the money vault to get his gold coins.
On the way, the minister asks the merchant how was he able to convince the king.
The merchant said, “You targeted the worth of the turban, I targeted the weakness of the king.”
“I knew the king had a big ego and to protect it he could take any measures.”
Hence, the merchant was able to extract his desired amount from the king.
Take a minute now!
Think, isn’t the same happening in your life?
People promote unnecessary things by threatening your ego.
They use the statements like:
- “Are you afraid?”
- “I knew you couldn’t do it!”
- “You are wrong!”
- “It could have been done better.”
or by repeating your original statement in a sarcastic tone.
Your ego can be used against you if you are not aware of that situation.
If you notice, sometimes you agree on a condition you know is wrong just to feed your ego.
You got one life, don’t let your ego ruin it.
“Dissolve your ego before it dissolves your self.” -Maxime Lagace
In this article, we will know “what is ego” and the different ways we can overcome it.
In this article, we will cover:
What is ego and why it is bad?
The origin of the word ego is Latin.
In Latin, the word ‘ego’ basically means ‘I’.
Ego is our self-image, not our true self.
In plain words, it is our true-self that camouflages itself by labels, definitions, evaluation, and judgments.
The Bhagwad Gita distinguishes the real ego and the false ego.
The real ego makes us conscious and aware of reality.
The false ego is our false-image that we have created to please ourselves and make us feel different from others.
Ego can be bad for you as it can be responsible for:
- Hard criticism you put on yourself.
- Narrow Vision
- Victim Mentality
- Destroyed Relationships
- Judging others
- Limiting Beliefs
Though, ego overall is not a bad thing as few aspects of our ego are good for our self-development as it:
- Pushes us to take some action.
- Drives us towards accomplishment.
- Useful in starting.
- Develops a healthy competitive spirit
In this article, we will address ego and the ways we could overcome it.
This article will change your perspective as Muhammad Iqbal once said it “The ultimate goal of ego is not to see something but to be something.”
Ego can get you into some problems and stunt your growth. Let’s find out how?
What is ego problem?
History is full of people who were egomaniacal.
The best example is Hitler, the people of Germany were so afraid of him that they weren’t able to question his decisions.
This led to the downfall of Germany.
Similarly, if people perceive you as egomaniacal they wouldn’t bother to interact with you.
Hence, you won’t receive any constructive criticism and you won’t develop any genuine relationships.
When you have an ego problem, you consider yourself so important that interacting with others seems a waste of time.
You develop what I call an “I know it all” mentality.
This makes you blind to all the knowledge and ideas present in the world.
In the long-term, you are the one who suffers.
We all have an ego but what causes such big egos?
What causes big ego?
We all have developed some kind of ego but ever thought about where it came from?
There are many sources but some of the most common are:
- Showering of praise by our loved ones.
- Our achievements that we hold onto.
- Being the best in the room for too long.
- Genetically inherited personality traits.
The problem is that we think of a person with an ego as someone who is proud, over-confident, and self-centered.
It’s not true necessarily.
Ego can also come from a place of insecurity.
eg: I am fat/ugly/skinny, I am not good enough.
Ego is mainly what you feel about yourself and not everyone having ego feels confident.
So, you should also consider this possibility in your mind.
A person with an ego can be a narcissist and an insecure person too.
Be aware of making the difference.
To have an ego can be good sometimes but how to know that it’s ruining your life?
How your ego is ruining your life?
When we let our ego overtake us, then is the time we start ruining our life.
When you develop a strong sense of ‘I’ you feel more important than others.
This creates a disconnect between you and the world.
You don’t see others as your equals but as your comparison.
To inflate our ego, we present a dishonest version of ourselves to the world.
In order to appear more knowledgeable, accomplished, and confident.
We put enormous effort to present our false-self to the world.
We buy expensive clothes, go on exotic vacations and post an edited pic on Instagram.
Our ego feeds on the praises and approval we get from others.
The more you feed it, the more it grows.
There will come a point where you will never get satisfied with who you are.
This will keep you away from living a fulfilled life.
1) It makes you a liar
Sometimes you work so hard to impress others that you lie about who you are in reality.
Then in order to protect that false-self, you have created you perform actions that are consistent with that person.
This makes you lose your original essence.
The ego craves attention, recognition, and praise so much that uses lying as one of its defense mechanism.
The story of Frank Abagnale Jr. told in the movie Catch Me If You Can, starring Leonardo Di Caprio is the best example of a false ego created by lying.
Abagnale was a talented con-man who used his skills to get into the job of a pilot, surgeon, and lawyer.
Jobs he hadn’t earned and couldn’t perform.
The scam he did cost $2 million to The American Government.
He used his natural abilities for a low, selfish purpose, and lost himself.
But after they released him from prison, he used the same skills to help the FBI track cheque frauds.
He later designed many of the security checks that many banks use every day and now lives his life as an honest American Security Consultant.
2) Destroys relationship
The false ego convinces itself that it’s better than everyone else.
To prove that it put others down because if others are “less than” we are, then we must be special.
We do this by differentiating ourselves and others based on physical attributes, education, net worth, race, religion, ethnicity, the cares we drive, and the clothes we wear.
When you think you are better than others, it creates a void between you and other people.
This void promotes negative feelings and you would feel disconnected, judged, and misunderstood.
Which makes it difficult for you to create new relationships and makes your existing relationships sour.
You need to realize that nothing makes you better than others, we all come from the same cells.
3) You judge others
Our ego elevates itself by judging others.
It points out their weaknesses and when we don’t find them in ourselves.
We feel good about ourselves, which gives a boost to our ego.
You define your accomplishments in other people’s weaknesses.
This becomes the limit to your achievements.
It makes you think you are so much better than them.
But in reality, you are nowhere close to half of your potential.
If you continue to live your life by that standard, it tends to become a lie.
When you judge others you deflect your attention away from the shortcomings you see in yourself.
4) An obstacle to growth
As talked about above, ego stunts our growth when we define our accomplishments in someone else’s limitation.
Our ego also wants to show how interesting and clever it is.
Ever noticed? When you are sitting in a conversation waiting for someone to finish their talk.
So that you can make a witty comment or add a punto it.
This is when your ego clamps up, ready to show what it has to offer.
In this eagerness to prove our point, we fail to listen to our friends and miss a good opportunity to gain a new perspective.
Now when you have realized it. Think!
How many times you might have missed an opportunity to learn something new.
Now you have an idea of how ego is ruining your life, it’s time to know how to overcome it!
How to overcome ego?
To live a happy life, you need to overcome your ego.
Here are 5 ways to overcome it:
1) End the habit of comparison
Comparing yourself with others is the major power source of the ego.
When we do the comparison. We don’t celebrate the abilities we possess, but we take pride in defining ourselves to someone else’s limitations.
You can’t compare the sun and the moon. They shine when it’s their time.
Similarly, everyone is special, and there will be a time when they’ll shine.
Until then, we all need to work on ourselves.
Maintain distance from our ego and develop yourself into the person you were destined to be.
The only person you need to compare yourself with is the person you were yesterday.
Take accounts of the things you did right and the things you could improve.
This will help you grow as a person and send your ego to good long sleep.
2) Stay Grounded
Once, a roman general returned from a victorious battle it was said that it was customary to have a slave stand behind him whispering “Remember you are a man.” in his ears.
This helps him to understand the fact that despite all his achievements, he should never become too proud and stay grounded.
When you are at a top of your game, don’t think you are too big that one person isn’t worth your time.
Always remember your roots.
Where you come from, where you started, your struggles, and people who have helped you along the journey.
This simple realization keeps your ego in check.
3) Practice Humility
Humility allows us to understand our weaknesses and the ways we can improve them.
It helps us see value in other people and gives us an opportunity to learn from them.
At night, when a firefly grows it thinks, How bright I am.
But in the day’s light, no matter how bright it glows, its light is weak, and it realizes its insignificance.
Similarly, when you are at the best of your game, you should be aware of your ego.
Practicing humility shows that you respect others and reminds us that there is so much to learn from others.
It is a signal to people around you that you are open to receive the gift of their knowledge and listen to what they have to say.
4) Don’t take everything personally
When someone mistreats us, it is a direct blow to our ego.
It always wants to be better than others but when faced with ill-treatment.
We respond almost furiously to protect our ego. Instead, you should look for the bigger picture.
When a person mistreats you, ask yourself – Are they exhausted? Frustrated? Sad?
If you know the person better – Are they making improvements from where they were?
When you take a moment to understand the factors that could lead them to this behavior.
You broader your perspective and decide the appropriate response to the situation.
This helps you save a lot of relationships and develops empathy towards others.
Everyone has a story, and sometimes our egos choose to ignore that.
Don’t take everything personally, it is usually not about you.
5) Detach from your ego
We think we are everything we have achieved till now.
We think we’re our job. We think we’re our looks, our home, our clothes.
Recognize that whatever you have- a skill, lesson, clothes, food – was given to you and whoever gave it to you received it from someone else.
Lord Krishna said: “What belongs to you today, belonged to someone yesterday and will be someone else’s tomorrow.”
Don’t define your life with your possessions and achievements.
Be grateful that you have them and try to pass the lessons to others.
Pass on to what you have been given that’s the essence of a life fully lived.
How to get rid of ego?
There are two exercises that could help you get rid of your ego:
1) Excercise 1
This is a self-awareness exercise, where you need to focus on the things you speak.
Whenever you use the word ‘I’/’Me’. Stop!
Don’t start every sentence with ‘I’.
It shows that you have a strong sense of ego.
Instead, discuss concepts, ideas and use words like ‘we’ and ‘us’.
You can never get rid of your egos completely because it is one of our driving forces of life, but you can always change your mindset.
2) Excercise 2
Try this simple mental exercise to be aware of your ego.
I learned from the book Think Like A Monk by Jay Shetty.
There are two things you should try to remember and two things you should try to forget.
The two things to remember are:
- the bad we’ve done to others and the good others have done for us.
When we remember the bad we have done to others, it forces our egos to remember our imperfections.
When we remember the good others have done for us, we feel gratitude for the gifts we have received.
The two things to forget are:
- the good we’ve done for others and the bad others have done to us.
If we are impressed by our good deeds, our egos grow.
When we forget the bad others have done to us, we instead of harboring anger and grudges welcome forgiveness in our life.
These two exercises are all you need to keep your ego in check and stop it from ruining your life.
Remember, If you don’t break your ego, life will break it for you.
When you get rid of your ego, you grow in other areas of your life as well.
When you practice humility and accept that you have a lot to learn you develop a growth mindset.
When you learn new things, your life changes dramatically but in order to learn things faster, you must learn how to stay productive.
Read my article on How To Increase Productivity In A World Full Of Distractions?
I hope you liked this article and it helped you to identify your ego.
Don’t forget to practice the exercises mentioned above because no one gets results without any practice.
I would love to know your views on this article.
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I appreciate you and I hope you have a wonderful day ahead!