Befriend your Ego
Updated: Apr 29, 2020
People see ego as an enemy. If someone would call you egoistic, you wouldn't be particularly flattered, would you? Being egoistic is generally taken as being narcissistic, inconsiderate of others and selfish. That is all partly true. But there is more to that.
'Ego' is an ancient Greek word that translates as 'I am'. The understanding of the self has been a hot subject since 400 B.C. The main ideas boil down to three main approaches:
The self is what we think we are.
What others think us to be.
What we truly are in the undeniable presence.
Very different and inevitably connected, these identifications of self are what constitute us as human beings. What we think we are is very much to do with what other people perceive us to be. If everyone around me would identify me as a waitress, and only as a waitress, I would see myself only as that - a waitress. But people see me as a waitress just because I look and act as a waitress. Well, I work as a waitress, so why wouldn't I. But am I only that?
A different example is that if I become Prime Minster all of a sudden. I see myself as a PM, because people treat me as one, media is all over me and I have the power of PM. And I am being treated like one, because I act like one. But the question is, am I PM, or just me, living my daily life and doing what I think is best in the situation I am presented with?
We all have many different sides of egos: a friend, a lover, a parent, a student, a sales person, a waitress or PM. But once each part of us is taken too far, it can damage our life.
The problem with ego is that when uncontrollable, it tends to lean to nasty habits:
Ego takes everything personally.
Ego stops us from growing.
It tries to get negative reaction in every situation - in this way it feeds itself.
It needs to be superior.
It loves playing a victim.
But how frustrating it must be in constant battle with yourself?
Instead - befriend that part.
What's the wisest way to defeat your enemy? Ignore it. It will destroy their ego and they'll lose themselves by not getting the reaction out of you. But what happens when you ignore your ego? It takes overtakes you. You no longer have the control over your emotions and actions. That's why we need to acknowledge it.
Once we find ourselves observing the situation and our reactions to it, we can identify the ego's part in it. We befriend it but in this way it cannot feed itself, because you become present and aware.
Ego loves dwelling on the past and focusing on the future. We all have our goals that push us forward. But if we become obsessed by it - we will never be satisfied.
Ultimately, befriending our ego means being aware of how people perceive us and not letting that perception of 'self' control us.
Stop and take a deep breath in, if you feel like all world has conspired to fail you. It's your victim's ego, taking control over your own actions.
Slow down and look around, if you catch yourself lashing out at a younger co-worker for no particular reason. You might spot a reflection in the mirror and see that the person on the other side is not the real you - it's the enemy you've been dreading to meet for quite a while.
Introduce yourself - befriend it. And tell it who's the boss.