How to Keep Your Ego from Stealing the Best of You
Keeping your ego in check is important if you want to be able to positively influence others and remain balanced.
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The ego is a complex part of who we are. It’s what drives us to do, say, and act a certain way at any given time. It’s what sets us apart from other species, and from each other. The ego is our conscious mind, the part of our identity that we consider “self.”
The role of the ego has one major task, sort out what is real in the world. Through its constant companionship, it helps us make sense of the world and of our place in it. It is who we think and perceive ourselves to be and makes up our personality. The ego controls our consciousness and therefore is the part of our personality of which we are most aware.
Because we are most aware of the ego, one might think it’s easy to control and keep in check. We all recognize those people who have big egos. They are the ones who act full of themselves, like humanity should part the path for them to walk through. Like everyone should listen carefully to what that person, or in this case, that ego, is saying because according to the person who encapsulates that ego, they are always right.
The Downside of the Ego
Yeah, the ego sounds like a weird, manipulative part of us all and that if not kept in check can lead a person astray toward a life where no one enjoys being around her.
The ego has earned itself a bad reputation because typically the word ego is used in situations to describe the negative. Being called egotistical means you don’t have the competence and experience to back up your confidence. That kind of ego is damaging and needs to be checked.
The Upside of the Ego
But equally as powerful as the negative side of the ego is the positive side of it. It does have value. For instance, imagine someone who is great at their work but downplays their value. That’s incredibly detrimental because if they don’t see the value, they’ll never bring their best forward. They’ll tend to hold back for fear of being too proud, too showy, too talented in a world that sometimes doesn’t favor that out of some weird competitive, jealousy that rules the cultural environment.
A Fine Balance
There’s a fine balance like anything notable and important in our life. Developing enough ego to believe in yourself and trust your dedication is crucial to your success.
The one huge gift of the ego is that we can control it. It can work in our favor if we become aware of its power in our life.
Today we’ll take a look at ways to increase positive ego and decrease its polar opposite, the side that can ruin our lives and relationships.
Bringing out the Best in Us
How can we increase the positive nature of our ego so as to bring out the best in us and those around us?
Well for starters, it’s important to realize that the ego needs to be fostered and embraced in a way that can significantly improve your performance and increase your self-confidence. Confidence is the key to performing at our peak and providing tremendous value in sharing that work with others. Doing great work requires a certain level of confidence and confidence is directly related to the ego. Imagine your favorite musician taking the stage and faltering through her songs because she doesn’t believe in her ability to entertain you? She’d never have a career as a musician. The only way she got that career was through her ego. It created her confidence to take that stage and light it up.
It’s not egotistical to know you are good at something. It’s the complete opposite of egotistical, in fact, because that would mean you don’t have the skill and competency to back up what you’re doing. You’ve got to believe in yourself to succeed and bring value.
Another positive side of the ego is leading a team, family, or friends toward a direction together, and doing so confidently with everyone’s best interests at heart. No one is going to follow your lead if you are meek and unsure of your ways. With your ego in check, you place yourself in a better position to make smart decisions for everyone involved. Sometimes people need someone else to cheer them on and say let’s go this way friends.
How to Zap a Bad Ego
Okay, let’s take a 180-degree angle here and figure out a few ways to kill a bad ego.
Taking on a Student View
Our egos sometimes embed the erroneous belief that we already know something well enough without needing someone else to tell us something new. Drop that belief and adopt a beginner’s mindset. Become a student of the universe, if you will. Go into a situation as you’ve never heard of the subject before. You’ll be amazed at how well you’ll connect with other people and their ideas. You might even walk away learning something new about something you’ve grown too used to be it work or relationship related.
Focus on Effort over Outcome
Another idea to keep the ego in check is to focus on effort over outcome. Sometimes we become so preoccupied with the outcome of our efforts that we fail to embrace the process of actually doing. That’s where the magic is. That’s where we open up to possibility. We shed the need to have something turn out as we would have it and allow ourselves to open up to what could be had we just had the smarts to let go of rigidity and allow for flow.
Another thing that kicks bad ego to the side is ignoring the need to be recognized for your efforts. Not everyone’s going to jump up and down in glee for what you’ve put forth, and until you stop expecting that, you’ll be a slave to the ego. The ego is hungry for credit. It thrives on it and will continue to show up at all the wrong times to get it somehow.
Look for the Lesson
Whenever possible in our pursuits, always look for new lessons from those around you. Never believe you have all the answers or learned everything there is to know. Or worse, that everything you know is right. Be okay with listening to others who are already successful and learn and absorb everything you can. Forget credit.
Admit your Faults
The final thing I’ll share that I’ve learned time and again is to admit when you’ve been egotistical. Make a full stop and start anew. The more you keep digging your way out of a hole you’ve created, the deeper you’ll fall into it and the harder it’ll be to climb out. The ego loves to come to our defenses when it feels we’ve been wounded. It will launch a full-scale attack to save our face. It will do anything to keep us out of trouble by forging ahead with arguments and self-inflated beliefs that often are not even true. When you recognize this, stop. Don’t dig any deeper. You’ll only make things worse. Accept that you are where you are because of that pesky thing called ego.
If we can learn to co-exist in a win-win relationship with the ego, then we’re more apt to enjoy a better sense of connectedness to things that matter and to people who matter. And isn’t that the whole point of this thing called life? To connect with such a purpose?
Suzie Carr, novelist, blogger, and podcaster