Is your ego in control of you?
For those not familiar with the concept of Ego, understanding it is central to mastery of the self.
Before going any further, let’s quickly debunk the misconception that your ego is how arrogance shows up. This implies that only certain people have an ego, since not everyone behaves arrogantly.
We ALL have an ego. Our ego is our sense of self, the lens through which we view the world based on the values and beliefs that we have built over time. It influences our response to the things that happen around us. Our ego will always be there, but it’s malleable and can be controlled with the right learnings and practice, enabling to control our responses and influence the world around in a positive way.
How do we know when our ego is in control?
In my book Stone Heart Light Heart – The Intelligence of Self Mastery I talk at length about detachment from ego. About how observing our emotions, behaviours and our monkey mind enables us to take charge of ourselves and choose how we respond. By taking control of our inner world like this, we start to gain control over our outer world.
What’s key to this process is being able to stay present and take a step back, observing your ego at work. There are some common ways in which it shows itself, which I share here for reflection. When you start to notice the following behaviours in yourself you have an opportunity to mindfully detach and regain control.
A reaction is an instant judgment of someone or something. Often, our reactions reflect our own insecurities. We react most strongly to the behaviours that others display that we dislike in ourselves, it’s like looking in a mirror and not liking what you see. When you react to something in this way you are allowing these undesirable behaviours to take up space in your mind. Step back from your immediate reaction, acknowledge it and detach.
Worrying will not bring about change. Worry is your ego creating stories around what ‘might be’ in the future, little of it is based on fact. When you start to worry it’s time to either take productive action to resolve the problem or to get out of your head and back into the present moment to change your mindset.
Overthinking goes hand in hand with worrying. Rather than focusing solely on the future, overthinking can also track back to the past, your ego replaying conversations and situations in your head and attaching self-judgments to them. Again, it’s fruitless and the same actions apply, try meditation, physical movement or mindful breathing to bring yourself out of it.
Another form of judgment, complaining criticises a situation and creates stress around wanting to be somewhere other than where you are. You can’t control this. The only thing you can control in life is how you react and respond to things. Acceptance will counteract complaint. Accept your present moment and choose how you respond.
Giving Judgmental feedback
Before giving any kind of feedback, consider where it’s coming from. Does your feedback contain objective facts? Is it constructive? Or is it rooted in your ego, your own insecurities and judgments? Feedback that comes from your ego will be taken as negative and will not land. Constructive feedback generally will be welcomed, even when difficult to hear at first.
Remember, you are not the sum of your emotions. You are not your ego.
It is critical not to identify with your emotions, letting them become part of your personality. In the same way we should not identify with our viewpoints either, these come and go and are a result of your ego and your environment, not the true essence of who you are.
Regularly checking in with yourself to understand how you are feeling is so important in your self mastery practice. Observe those emotions, accept them and let them pass, making way for clarity of thought. This is the space in which you will make better objective decisions, create a more positive vibrational energy, be a better leader and have more control of your response to whatever comes your way.
This is light heart in action.
For more on the topic of overthinking, watch the reel below.