Ego - The tameable enemy.1, Feb, 2014, by Seema Bhatnagar
Frequently heard, frequently used, ego is a word, which each one of us has heard since childhood. We experience and use it every day, at work or at home in our relationships with the world. It plays a significant role in building and destroying our relationships with others. We often take a moment and label others as egoist on not finding them what we expect them to do.
You know, because of our ego we lose ample opportunities to feel good and happy in life and take everything for granted, thinking what's new or big about it. Life doesn't come with any project plan, it is something that we must enjoy on everyday basis but because of our ego we always feel that we should get what we desire. Our relationships, mindsets and habits are all have smell of ego and because of which we suffer endlessly. Ego looks like our true friend but actually it is an enemy in disguise.
Are you an egoist?
"Every normal person, in fact, is only normal on the average. His ego approximates to that of the psychotic in some part or other and to a greater or lesser extent." ~ Sigmund Freud
It will be interesting to know if you are an egoist or not. Well, this doesn't require any elaborate discussion or any quiz; I am sure, each one of us is an egoist, until and unless you are an enlightened soul already. For a moment it would sound very bitter and difficult to accept but this is a fact. We all are egoists of different degrees and use our ego in everyday life to manipulate others to get our things done. Our day to day conflicts at work and home are only due to our egoistic nature.
Following are some quick pointers for an egoist:
- From any angle, if you feel you are superior to others.
- You feel, directing or controlling others is alright.
- You feel rejected and annoyed when somebody refuses your proposal or acceptance, may be in job or in relationships.
- It is alright to criticize others for mistakes and they must learn from you.
- Ridiculing others for mistakes and their lack of knowledge.
- It is alright to take others for granted because you know the situation better.
- End up arguing over trivial matters.
If you find even a tinge of these qualities in your personality, you are for sure an egoist, no need to think further.
What is ego?
"Ego is simply an idea of who you are that you carry around with you." ~ Wayne Dyer
Ego is a false image of self, not reflecting true qualities. It is based on money, fame, position one holds, praise from others and what one possesses. Fundamentally, it is entirely driven by external factors. People who are egoists always make use of these virtues and feel annoyed and hurt if they find themselves somewhat inferior to others in these aspects. Ego always makes you to compare yourself with others and will often make you feel upset even on the slightest sign of losing the higher position.
EGO is basically, Easily Going Out of control. People, who are egoist, lose their control over self and start acting in a defending mode. When ego comes into action, you are not being yourself but trying to hide personal true qualities. People hide their true personality because somewhere there is a fear or insecurity about losing the higher position in comparison.
Living with ego is like living in a narrow, tight and congested compartment, a pigeonhole, which never let you breathe easy and see the broader perspective of life. It excludes you from others and spoils your wonderful relationships.
Development of ego starts since childhood when parents, teachers and others shower praise for doing something excellent and slapped criticism on making mistakes. As a child, one feels that one should do only those things which makes others happy in order to get acceptance and love from others. This mindset becomes too strong and becomes a part of personality; as a result an individual's sense of self completely depends on others for appreciation, praise and acceptance. Any lack in supply of these will upset and hurt the individual and in a race of winning others one starts wearing this artificial or false personality, which is not based on true personal qualities and an individual will end up becoming an egoist.
Ego has become stronger nowadays because majority of people live with survival mindset.People who are egoists don't enjoy relationships and face problems connecting with others. Such people are not reliable in their behavior and cannot be trusted as true leaders. Anger and jealousy are natural for them and they cannot tolerate others going ahead of them.
Is Ego good or bad?
"Many could forgo heavy meals, a full wardrobe, a fine house, and etcetera. It is the ego they cannot forgo." ~ Mahatma Gandhi
The concept of ego is based on comparing with others. Well, comparison in itself is not bad at all but the way we are utilizing comparison makes a lot of difference. If we use it positively, we can think of bringing improvement in self while using it negatively, it becomes a cause of pain and suffering.
For example, there are two persons, person A and person B. Person A thinks that I am the best in my business and nobody can beat me in terms of quality of products. While person B, thinks I know my products are excellent but still there are so many things to learn and improve upon. Due to these different mindsets, person A is always in a fear of losing no. 1 position because s/he is already comparing with unknowns while person B enjoy the status without any fear of losing in comparison and will make progress steadily.
Similarly, in terms of personal growth, you may use ego either positively or negatively. Knowing that you are fortunate enough to have so many privileges in life but there is always a scope of becoming a better person is a way to have positive ego while always thinking yourself superior in thoughts and action is about having negative ego. So, living it positively can do wonders and can transform you into a different person altogether while living it negatively will take you downward and life will be full of pain and sorrows.
Yoga and Ego
"All works are being done by the energy and power of nature, but due to delusion of ego people assume themselves to be the doer." ~ Bhagavad Gita
The aim of living life is to reach the best of personal potential or to attain the maximum possible growth in this life. Moksha or the enlightenment is the highest peak of growth for any human being. Well, it sounds easier to read and think but it is worth pondering over to know why it is so. Attaining moksha is like becoming Godly, who always think of others, absolutely selfless, and this broadens the horizon infinitely as compared to a person who always think of petty self and personal interest like a pigeonhole thinking.
Ashtang Yoga by Patanjali, suggests, Yama , Niyama and Ishwarapranidhana, according to which, through personal conduct one must surrender self to God, and one should drop ego and should completely believe in God. Do everything but do not think you are doing it but it is only God who is doing action and you are just an instrument in Gods' hand. Read more on it here: Self-Discipline - 24 hours Meditation - Part III
Ego is one of the chitta vritti or the tendency of mind to deviate towards sensory pleasures which must be curbed in order to progress on path of personal growth. It is like a ghost which clouds our intelligence and hampers personal growth.
A person who really wants to attain enlightenment must drop ego and it is the most fundamental prerequisite. Without it, all efforts of penance and austerity are meaningless.
Swami Vivekananda, one of the internationally acclaimed Indian monks who introduced the philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the western world, has given an excellent lecture on ego in his book. Read this link. http://cwsv.belurmath.org/volume_7/vol_7_frame.htm (Inspired Talks, WEDNESDAY, June 26, 1895.)
How to tame your ego?
Don't allow egoism to enter your minds, and let love never depart from your hearts. ~ Swami Vivekananda
Ego is that toxicity which you are always carrying inside to harm you more than others. Only because of this you don't enjoy personal relationships at home and work and lives in constant stress and anxiety. Love, humility, politeness can never bloom in its' presence, you must get rid of it without a delay. Since we are compelled by our habits, so acting through ego is one such habit and to drop your ego needs a new habit forming activity. Check out blog post on habit forming, You are your Habits..
Before you embark on this new habit, you must understand the fundamentals which are needed to form this new habit. It needs a totally new mindset and perspective of looking at people and situations. If you are not able to understand this new paradigm you are most likely to fail in dropping your ego. Following are the mindsets and in a way tips to understand how you can drop your egoistic behavior. Like always, until you think about new mindsets and try them in your life, no book, no mentor and no coaching can help you. Take the control in your hand and try these new mindsets in your life to experience a new level of egoless growth.
- Enhance your self-esteem.
- Look yourself beyond your accomplishments.
- Respect others.
- Stop comparing yourself with others.
- Do not take others for granted.
- Stop judging and commenting on others.
- Meditate and look inside.
- Do painful acts
- Be forgiving towards others.
- Accept and improve your weaknesses.
- Be humble
- Admit your mistakes.
- Be selfless
People who are low on self-esteem have a very fragile ego, so they behave very erratically and irrationally. Enhance your self-esteem and understand yourself very well to keep the rising head of ego under control. Read more on Self-esteem.
For a moment, seek your true self, which is without any of your accomplishments that means your role, position at work, money, other materialistic possessions and relationships. Just think your existence without these, do you still feel proud of yourself. Your true self is without all these accomplishments and these accomplishments are time bound and lose their sheen with time. So you must look beyond these and seek self which is much higher and pure than these temporary labels.
Respect others as they are without looking for reasons. Any individual is respect worthy for a simple reason that s/he is an individual and share same humanly emotions. Not to forget, with the same spirit, look at the plants and animals too. They are also a part of this planet and must be respected for their right to live.
Comparing self with others is of no use and this is the only reason because of which ego inflates. It makes you happy when you find yourself superior in comparison while low and hurt on finding inferior. This is a best way to start on taming your ego. It will be tougher initially but with practice you would start accepting yourself with much more ease.
Must not take anybody for granted and must take everybody's consent before doing anything which can impact others in some way. This is especially true at work and in relationships at home.
A constant inner chatter which doesn't listen to stop is constantly commenting about others and making judgments for deciding the superiority. Put a stop on this unending inner commentary. Only because of this it is difficult to accept people as they are. Imagine for a moment, if you have no preconceived notions about others, it would be much simpler to accept others.
Meditation is a way to check this constant inner chatter. Meditate every day and remind yourself everyday that you are not your possessions and everybody is worthy for respect and love. Just calm your mind and give yourself a break from constant inner chatter.
There are certain acts which we don't do or avoid because of some kind of associated pain and fear. For example, talking to a person who hurt or insulted you in past and as a revenge you don't like having any contact with that person. Breaking your own boundaries give a blow to your ego and you can feel lighter inside. Your ego might make you feel as a looser or losing your self- respect but this is not true. Accepting yourself and others with personal faults is greatness.
Forgive others even if they have insulted or hurt you. I know, it is very difficult -actually it is difficult only because of ego. If you develop this attitude, your ego will start losing grip over you.
Knowing and accepting personal weaknesses is one step closer in improving upon them. If you know your weaknesses, you will have fewer reasons to get angry and feel inferiors of others. You can feel more comfortable in accepting self with weaknesses with an attitude to improve upon them.
Be humble with others even when others are losing their tempers. Let your ego not react to outside events. Do not boast about your accomplishments and let others find them out.
Admit and apologize for your mistakes, doesn't matter at work or at home, this will make you more humble and your ego will lose its' grip.
Do few things in life or rather everyday which do not bring any gain to you , just work with an idea to help somebody in some way. Try to think, how you can make somebody's life better with your genuine and authentic efforts.
The overall idea is to break your ego through various ways. Every dent on your ego should make it weak then a stronger one. With weak and lesser ego, you can develop and enjoy lifelong relationships easily and people will feel more comfortable in your presence.
My personal experience
Not shying away from the fact, Yes, I was an egoist and still I am the one to some extent. There used to be a time when I would simply hit back on the slightest comparison and on getting a feeling that I am not the superior one in comparison. Used to feel rejected and dejected on not getting enough attention and interest from friends or in any group I am part of.
In relationships, would not consider others respect worthy if they are not up to the mark or if they are not making me feel superior in some way. My up to the mark means having good mannerism, education, standard of living and overall a good conduct.
On many occasions, I found myself sulking on not finding myself superior to others or when somebody pointed out some mistake or flaw in me. I used to label that person as my opponent and would always maintain a distance and would never ever think of making him/her as my friends. If s/he is in any group, I would avoid joining that group because that would give me a constant feeling that I am not being superior to somebody.
Having this as a perspective I lost many opportunities to enjoy and develop healthy friendships. Interestingly, I never thought that it was wrong and always felt that it is a right way to choose friends and company.
As I mentioned earlier also, I was perfectly a person, whom anybody would love to hate (still not the loveable one.:-)). Slowly, over the period of time, especially when I chose path of personal growth to live the best of my potential, I realized that my perspective of looking at people and situations is extremely narrow like a pigeonhole and I am wasting my energy over things which will not matter after some period of time. On my journey of personal growth, every day, I used to question every action, emotion and made correction to bring improvement. It was really piercing and time taking as well, because for every thought, I used to prick my ego and made myself understood that this is not right, you must think other way. Even now also, I follow this practice, but since the thought patterns (personal values) have become part of my thinking so I do not have to pay much attention.
My big inflated ego got deflated only because I developed and practiced my personal values and made myself clear that I have to follow them in every situation no matter how much cost I will have to pay. Here, my self-disciplined played a key role and helped me in developing the best habit of my life which simply transported me to a different world altogether.
My ego or the false perception of self was only because this is what I have seen around me and learnt since childhood. The learnt fundamentals were appreciation and being always best and I must choose the situation which gives these. Money and position are powers through which you can feel superior over others and can easily manipulate others. Wearing good and smart clothes makes an impact and you must always be dressed to your best to leave an impact. This mindset is true and surely works in our society, no wonder, because of this, everybody is in a race to outsmart other and competition has become a mantra of success. Only due to this, people are living artificial personalities and cannot think of living their own personal values or real self. Constant comparison accompanied with underneath fear of being inferior and rejection makes people to live with ego which becomes a lifetime suffering.
Now, I have stopped comparing myself with others and enjoy a high level of self-esteem. I accept myself as I am and do not feel threatened because somebody is better than me and making more money or is in some way better than me. But still there are certain situations where I find my debilitated ego comes into action. Materialistic things have stopped mattering to me, now it is more on thought level. These are again very ridiculous reasons based on comparisons, like, when I find somebody is having a better thought than me and sometimes why the other person is not following what I believe in because I have a better mindset. Since I am aware of my ego, so I instantly tell myself not to compare and accept others as they are. Sometimes, I find it very difficult to handle this, but slowly making progress.
Looking back, I feel immensely grateful to nears and dears who chose me as a friend or rather a close friend, and tolerated my sharp edges. I can imagine now how much hurt and pain I had given them at that time. I am remorseful for the pain and hurt caused to people because of my inflated ego. Nothing can be done now except to send my personal thoughts of thinking best for them. Above all, I wish, in future, I attain a strength to a level where I never hurt anybody, even in my thoughts, doesn't matter how badly the other person is behaving with me or how much better s/he is.
Success and Ego
Ego is the biggest enemy of humans. ~ Rig Veda
A bigger, strong and inflated ego is the main stumbling block for experiencing success in personal life. A constant comparison for one thing or the other will never make you feel satisfied with self and with others. Due to this, you wouldn't be able to enjoy your work and personal life. Leader with inflated ego cannot inspire team to collaborate at work, and also, for such person, it is difficult to accept criticism. If you are aspiring to be a leader in your organization then it is essential for you that first you must work on your ego otherwise every step towards success will become painful for you and for others associated with you.
For success in personal relationships, ego must be killed completely; a slightest trace of it can spoil long years of relationship. It is especially important for marital relationships.
For success in every aspect and to enjoy life fully, one must drop ego and instead develop knowledge of self.
Bless people when they revile you. Think how much good they are doing by helping to stamp out the false ego. ~ Swami Vivekananda
Living with ego is like living in a narrow, tight and congested compartment, a pigeonhole, which never let you breathe easy and see the broader perspective of life. It excludes you from others and spoils your wonderful relationships. It disempowers you and makes you feel vulnerable in life situations. It really doesn't help you much, you might feel that it is beneficial in making money, gaining power and superiority but at the same time it will gift you insecurity, fear of rejection and failure.
For personal growth, this is a biggest and strongest hurdle one would come across. As long as it stays in its negative form, you cannot enjoy any personal growth and your connections with the world. You must deflate your ego in order to grow up. Let the ego go and let the abundance touch your feet to enjoy this world to best.