It’s easy to point out someone who has a big ego. They’re probably annoying (first and foremost) and talk only about themselves. Mr. or Mrs. ME ME ME.
Well, people with a big ego walk around us every day but aren’t as apparent as the person mentioned above. In fact, they operate with the same insecurities and fears as most of us. If we’re having difficulty finding gratitude, shutting up our complaints and avoiding change, we may have an overfed ego too.
Before I break this down further let’s identify what our ego is. Our ego is our inner self, the mask we wear into the world and is comprised of positive and negative self-esteem. Our ego is the inner part of us that needs acceptance and attention. If our childhoods were lacking in these areas, we may feed our ego differently as adults. The inner critic can also be described as the ego. In recovery language, people overcoming addiction recognize an overactive ego when they “Edge God Out (E.G.O.). I use this acronym with my clients when their inner critic is shouting too loud!
Instead of ranting about the downside of an overfed ego, let’s also examine it’s opposite, which we can refer to as your “true self”, “soul” or “spirit.”
- Avoidance: The Ego feeds off fear and scarcity, avoids, hides and keeps score. We all walk around with certain fears but the ego keeps your brain afraid of change, what may happen next and the what ifs. If we think in opposites, fear doesn’t attract abundance or opportunity. The ego could cause you to self-sabotage, shrink around career opportunities and keep you silent on things that matter. If we received messages from our family or morals that we weren’t good enough, this fed our ego instead of inspiring a creative mind. When our creativity is blocked by someone or from destructive messages, we can become defensive, anxious or depressed.
What happens when you starve fear and avoidant behavior? Abundance, creativity and open mindedness have room to flourish. Your family, mentor and pastor can bark at you for years about “stop being afraid and stop hiding!” But what’s the opposite of that? What’s the benefit of stepping out on faith? The ego loses power when we believe in our next step. Click To Tweet Have you seen people putting affirmations or intentions on vision boards? These words are like an open door. They invite abundance and clearly state what we need.
- Comparison: The Ego LOVES to compare, tells you LOOK AT WHAT THEY’RE DOING and is a harsh critic. The famous researcher, Brene Brown, says that when we’re more judgmental of others our self-esteem may be suffering. People with a healthy self-esteem aren’t busy judging. I have written about the comparison trap and how multiple losses make it hard to focus on our “wins.” When we compare ourselves to others and feel inferior we feed that message of “I’m not enough.” Our spirit or true self is not worried about “enough.”
Recommended reading: How To Bust Out Of The Comparison Trap
What’s the opposite of comparison or being a hater? Being complimentary, giving people credit and exercising gratitude. Another important word in the gratitude family is “grace.” Being gracious to others AND ourselves means showing compassion and mercy. Compassionate self-talk isn’t making comparisons to people on social media and isn’t berating ourselves because of our shortcomings.
Do you know where I have learned to silence my ego? On the yoga mat! When I started going to weekly yoga classes I was judgmental of people who could stretch further than me and appeared super limber. That judgment turned into self-talk that said “Damn girl you ain’t shit. You look younger than them and can’t even sit cross legged.” When I moved into a compassionate and graceful way of thinking I thought, “Well they’ve been practicing longer than me so it’s no surprise that I suck. But I aim to be as limber as them. They are my motivation to keep coming to class. Wait. I’m not here to try to look like them. I’m here to get centered, slow my breathing and safely stretch my muscles. I’m not here for them. I’m here for me.”
When I need to practice grace with myself my self-talk includes a lot of “So what?” and “What’s the worst that could happen?” Being compassionate with myself means that fear isn’t invited to my party. What’s the worst that could happen if my Instagram pictures aren’t perfect? What’s the worst that could happen if I don’t make friends at this new job? Am I there to build my career and get a paycheck or to be liked? So what if I set a boundary this time and refuse to host a party. No one else is gonna tackle these work and family responsibilities but me!
See how that conversation goes! I’m more likely to extend grace to myself if I relax my expectations, be compassionate with my limitations and realize that my ego is dying for attention and acceptance.
Our true self can operate better when it is calm, peaceful and compassionate. It doesn’t mean that our spirit won’t get rocked from time to time. Life happens. No amount of breathing, prayer or healthy affirmations can stop life from happening. Our true self can handle decision making, seeks resolutions, doesn’t seek revenge and keeps our energy levels in check.
I invite you to practice using compassionate self-talk and drop the mask the ego wants you to wear!