Our ego is a very strange part of who we are. It can dominate our thoughts and feelings every day. Most people can’t help but compare their situation to what they don’t have. We always want to be something we are not or have something we don’t. This can lead to a very slippery slope of feeling unstable and unsatisfied. It’s not enough to tell ourselves that there are other people less fortunate than ourselves; we need to accept and believe that we are content. Quieting the ego is not an easy thing to do and it can never be silenced forever.
Where I notice the ego takes the most control over our minds is the image we have of our bodies. Since the beginning of time, we have always had someone or something to which to compare our bodies. It is hard to be too fat, too skinny, too tall, too short, have any color, style, or texture of hair. Our teeth are never straight or white enough, our eyes are the wrong color, and we will never achieve the right facial bone structure. Often when a person’s ego can get in the way and people will put so much pressure on themselves, causing them to develop low self-esteem or destructive habits. They will use negative language to describe themselves or cope with how they feel with a stagnant lifestyle, food, drugs, alcohol, and other bad habits.
The ego also can get in the way is when people who are not satisfied with themselves can also have a negative impact on others around them. How we treat others is a reflection on how we feel about ourselves. People who lash out at others are generally just projecting their deepest feeling about themselves onto others. The ego causes us to become the victim in our own lives. So, what is the ego and how can we recognize it? I like to compare the ego to the five stages of grief.
1. Denial: I am sure you know people like this. They are always complaining about their misfortunes, they can never be happy, bad things always happen to them, or that they will never have what others have. They see nothing wrong with their behavior and don’t see any reason to change. They are in a permanent state of denial. The ego can play a huge part in this type of learned behavior. Blaming others for our current situation and not taking responsibility for our current circumstances is your ego getting in the way of your true self. We then pretend that the reason we are so unhappy, unsatisfied, or need more is because of others or the situation we are in; so, instead of making a change, we sit and complain about it. This can lead always to being trapped in a place of avoidance and playing the victim. Our ego tells us that this is an okay state, it is safe, it means we can continue to avoid taking responsibility.
2. Anger: Being short tempered and quick to react with anger is another way the ego can prevent us from happiness. Anger is a sign of entitlement. We develop anger because we think someone has wronged us and we must react, instead of taking responsibility for your emotions and not letting someone control how you feel. How we react to others’ actions is our fault and our fault alone; no one can make you feel something you have to allow yourself to feel that way. When we express anger, that is our ego telling us that we are less than and so we must lash out. Again, this is making us the victim not triumphant.
3. Sadness: Self-pity, disappointment, and unhappiness are important feeling for the ego. Many people who are experiencing these emotions because of the desire for more than what they already have. They generally are not content with their current situation and are always looking for more. People who are always unhappy will constantly be looking for reasons why they are not. Generally, this also leads to another round of the blame game. Falling into this pattern of always wanting more or something better is a prime example of ego. You will never feel appreciative of what you have or what you are if you are constantly looking for the next best thing … thus, turning yourself against your true self; possessions equal pain.
4. Bargaining: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Many people find themselves repeating the same habits over and over again because they are afraid of stepping outside of their comfort zone. Many times they bargain with themselves saying their situation isn’t so bad and if they just stick it out things will get better. Well, your ego is telling you that if you just stay in your comfort zone then things will change. It wants you to keep to your same cycle not stray from the familiar. Venturing into the unknown is never easy and it takes a lot of courage to try something new. The true self knows that, no matter what, things will work out; but, if you’re trying to change your life for the better, then the first step is telling yourself things will change by actually changing yourself.
5. Acceptance: The last stage of the ego. You have accepted your fate and now you must stay there. Just because you have been one way for a long time doesn’t mean you have to stay that way. If we accept our current state of unhappiness, then we don’t have to do any work. The ego wins and we can continue living within the confined walls of our comfort zone and denial. Because I was born this way, I must live this way and there is no hope for change. When we accept our fate, we miss the opportunity to be great, thus letting the ego take over and all of the things that come with it. We will accept that we are a victim, less than, not good enough, or, even worse, we will accept our unhappiness toward ourselves.
So, how do we break this cycle? How do we move away from the ego and move into a space of our true self? Quieting the ego is never easy and it is not a one-shot deal. You will be practicing this for the remainder of your life. The good news is that the more you practice the easier it gets and the more naturally it will come. Never underestimate the power of self-love and self-acceptance.
Your ego is not your friend in life. It can prevent you from true happiness and lead you down a path of disappointment, negativity, and feelings of victimization. Trapping you in a place you don’t want to be. Your true self is a place of love, positivity, and compassion. Release yourself from the obligation of judgement because you are enough and you deserve to be happy and whole.