I shared a post recently on Facebook that said ‘Apologising doesn't always mean you are wrong and the other person is right. It just means you value your relationship more than your ego’. While most people understood the meaning of this some asked me to define ego. What does ego mean exactly? To explain it well is not a short answer so I've decided to dedicate this weeks blog to Ego and what it really is.
Ego is your self image of who you are, not your true self but the ‘I’ that you think you are including the thoughts and the emotions that you identify with. When we create an identity based on an image, that is the Ego eg; I am a successful businessman with two companies a lovely wife, two kids a big home and a fast car. This is not who you actually are, this is what you have identified with, this is your Ego.
Ego is the false idea of believing that you are what you have or what you do. Strip away the possessions and the job and you're left with the real you. Every experience you have had in your life from your childhood right to this current day has added something to who you are and also to your ego. When you don't know yourself your Ego exists to tell you who you are but the moment you fully know yourself no ego is found.
Ego and anxiety
The source of all our anxieties is in our mind because the future does not exist anywhere but in our minds. All these future events that you are worrying about don't exist. People with high ego control tend to feel anxious in new situations. Bringing ourselves into the moment we are in frees us of our ego and of our worrying thoughts. Those with high anxiety tend to care a lot about what others think of them. This is their ego at work. They have created an image for the world and put themselves under undue pressure to maintain this image. They have decided who the ‘I’ is that they want the world to see and know and they work hard at maintaining this perception. They identify very strongly with the image and feel anxious when it proves challenging to maintain. The Ego is working very hard here and the harder you work your ego the stronger and larger it becomes. Letting go of your ego can be difficult and painful but is the only way you will ever fully know yourself.
How to let go of your Ego
Are you dependant on your external environment to feel the way you want to feel? Is your locus of evaluation outside of yourself, in your job, your family, your possessions? Then you are identifying very strongly with your ego and your external environment is controlling how you feel as opposed to you. As cliched as it may sound happiness can never be found in external things but yet when we don't feel happy we tend to always look outside of ourselves as opposed to inside. So find a way to feel the way you want to feel without it being dependant on those around you. When you rely on other peoples perceptions to feel good, then you’re going to fear judgement and you’re going to fear failure. Just be yourself, not who you feel the world wants or needs you to be.
And to finish with a quote I read recently “Don't confuse having less with being less, or having more with being more. Who you are is far more important than what you have or what you do.”