This blog entry is intended to remind us of how our Egos have such HUGE influence on our behavior every day. According to Vocabulary.com, “Your ego is your conscious mind, the part of your identity that you consider your ‘self’. If you say someone has ‘a big ego’, then you are saying he is too full of himself.” Ego is “An inflated feeling of pride in your superiority to others.”
Another general dictionary definition of Ego is, “A person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance.” In simplest terms Ego is the part of all of us that “Reacts to the outside world”.
Because of our Egos, we care about how we’re perceived and what people think of us. Here are some common scenarios:
- Ego is infused with all of our desires to be viewed by our peers in a certain way… to be accepted, acknowledged, heard, popular, funny, important, prioritized, right, stronger, better, faster, better looking… the list goes on.
- When we feel pride, we are often feeling our Egos (and we are fearful of having our pride damaged)
Because so much is influenced by our Egos, the Ego is literally like heavy backpack that we never put down (and get used to carrying all the time). Many famous thinkers have written about it, including Freud (obviously) and modern free thinkers / visionaries like Eckhart Tolle (in a number of his books). According to Eckhart Tolle, “Not all thinking and all emotion are of the ego. They turn into ego only when you identify with them and they take you over completely, that is to say, when they become “I.” The Ego is not a new concept, but, despite it driving so much our daily behavior, somehow it’s something we don’t often think about.
The more I think about it about, I realize how active the Ego is and how substantially it has impacted and influenced my life as far as I can remember.
How this topic helps you become Smarter Sooner:
✔ Reminder of how your ego influences you every day
✔ Realize that an active Ego typically equates to undesirable traits like arrogance and cockiness (the need to “beat one’s chest” and let others know how smart, important and otherwise ‘great’ you are)
✔ Realize that you, in fact, can control your ego and react differently by simple ego control (often times saying / doing nothing, and just listening more)
✔ People gravitate to people who are less ego-driven
✔ Ego control and awareness is yet another sign of maturity and will be appreciated by those around you creating advantages for you (in the workplace, relationships and more)
✔ Women generally like men who are less ego-driven and they relate more to people with controlled egos
✔ Life is generally more relaxing when the Ego is calm (when you don’t feel the need to constantly react)
By managing your ego, you can control literally 100s of situations in your life more effectively with less stress and energy expenditure (in a way that will most likely be more pleasing to those around you).
Here are a few easy ones to focus on:
- Being Funny, Saying the Right thing: We often feel the need to be funny, or to say the right thing when in groups. This is particularly the case in our teens and twenties (in school, with peers, etc.). In trying to do this, what we are actually doing is seeking approval from others AND we’re not necessarily being ourselves (or acting naturally). By making people smile, it seems that people like us, think we’re cute, witty, smart, whatever (and, then, we feel more accepted). And, in this way, our Egos feel more self-importance. Remember that you can be funny or say something ‘cute’ if you feel like it, but recognize that it’s often your ego making you feel the need to this. You are still important regardless of whether somebody laughs at (other otherwise applauds) what you say or do. Take a breath instead and remind yourself that it’s not really that important be funny all the time (or feel pressure to respond with something witty in conversation) – and it’s OK not to say anything. Taking this pressure off is actually liberating. Try it. And, in doing so, you’re actually managing your Ego because it’s the Ego that makes you constantly feel the need to say something.
- Using Facebook, Twitter and other social media is often Ego-driven: Think about our Ego’s interaction with Social Media. Ask yourself why you are posting material publically on Facebook or other social media properties. It’s likely that you’re posting in order to elicit some sort of feedback that feeds the Ego (fuels our sense of self-importance, recognition, acknowledgement, etc. and helps reinforce some sort of perception of ourselves that soothes the Ego?). Facebook conditions us to post content that gets the most ‘likes’ and Twitter, similarly, encourages us to post content that is ‘re-tweeted’. I argue that chasing ‘likes” and ‘re-tweets’ is a waste of time if it’s ego-driven (i.e. the only reason we’re doing it to elicit external accolades). Post if you want to and but understand why you are truly doing it. Is it really the best use of your time? Or are you just ‘fishing’ for some sort of feedback and accolades that feed the Ego?
- Telling Stories: Telling stories to a group of people is another form of attention seeking (at times) and this is driven by our Egos. In telling a story, we have captured the attention of a group and these people are attentively listening to us! That is totally Ego-soothing. We feel more important when people are paying more attention to us. This also applies very commonly to gossip. Feeling the need to ‘gossip’ about other people is ultimately driven by the Ego. And the more ‘drama’ associated with the story, the more people will listen and the more self-importance we feel. ALL EGO! Think about this when you’re telling stories. Do you really want to / need to tell the story? Is it positive and uplifting to tell the story? Or are you just telling it because people will listen to you? Think about how often this happens and notice when other people do it. The Ego is very active and sneaky!
- Anger, Road Rage, settling the score and similar behavior: Acting on anger is typically driven by the Ego because the Ego feels slighted. And our egos are what drive us to react, retaliate or otherwise respond to the feeling of anger. Road Rage (or any desire to ‘teach a lesson’) is a great example… Think about when you have been irritated by another driver on the road and/or witnessed an angry driver on the road. When a person gets angry while driving, they’re technically feeling that they have been ‘disrespected’ which really means, according to the Ego, that they need to correct the situation by demonstrating that they are, in fact, right. When people feel like reacting by yelling obscenities or attempting to teach the other person a lesson, they are honoring a big Ego inside that wants to ensure that those around him know how important he is. Since a person’s sense of pride has been tarnished, it has to be corrected. The need to react to this type of thing is ALL EGO-driven. If you think about it, reacting is definitely stressful, unhealthy and potentially dangerous to you and those around you. And, remember that you are the one in control. You don’t have to react. You can just ‘blow if off’ and carry on with your day. Those who are able to observe a situation like this without reacting are people who are NOT dominated by big Egos (and much more mature). Those who cannot help but react getting really angry and stressed are people with uncontrolled Egos. Which person are you? Simply realizing that you can, in fact, react calmly or not at all in a situation like this is extremely liberating. After all, being angry accomplishes nothing and only adversely affects you.
- Arguing, Being Right and Trouble Saying Sorry: The need to be viewed as “right” and the corresponding difficulty saying sorry is driven by the Ego. Being ‘right’ is a function of self-importance and therefore motivates the Ego. We all tend to argue and sometimes it’s important to speak up and be heard, but it’s also very important to recognize when this is purely driven by our Egos. Have you ever considered just relaxing and not saying anything else when an argument is about to ensue? What, truly, is the benefit of arguing with friends, peers or colleagues? It’s a waste of energy and can be stressful and usually produces little gain. Our Egos feel it’s important to argue because we can prove that we are smarter or ‘right’ more often. But, outside of the Ego, what is the value of that? Who cares whether a friend or colleague can confirm that you’re right or not? You know your position in you own mind and it’s not really that important to prove a point. Move on, save the energy and avoid the conflict. Recognize the ego’s need for this. And be willing to apologize if you did not properly acknowledge or recognize somebody else being right.
Pay attention to how your ego drives a lot of your behavior. You’ll be amazed. And each time you control your ego, you gain much more than you can possibly lose. As Einstein says, “More knowledge, lesser the ego… Lessor the knowledge, more the ego.”