Managing the ego


Vipasha Naik

Psychology Associate

What is ego and how it works

‘No, I won’t apologize to him, it’s been 2 years and he hasn’t taken any initiative either.’

‘I don’t think this photo is so good, I just got 100 likes on it.'

‘She is so arrogant! God knows what she thinks of herself!’

These are a few statements we all must have heard and experienced. We use the term ego very commonly in our everyday conversations. But do we actually understand what it is?

In the simplest sense, ego is how we identify ourselves. Our self-image is our ego. Ego is the absence of our true self, as it is just an illusion of what we think we are.

The ego is something that keeps us locked up in our minds, separating us from the present moment. Anxiety, stress, frustration, guilt, insecurity, and worry are all a product of ego, of being a prisoner of the past or wanting to be in control of the future.

When we operate from the ego, we are not acting from a loving place but a judgemental place. We are not acting from a place of ‘how can I serve’ or ‘how can I give’ rather ‘what do I get’ and ‘how do I look’.

The rise in social media usage is one of the biggest ego inflators these days. People put up stories, post their photos, just to seek the approval of other people.

Those likes and comments provide instant gratification and that validation received becomes the food for the ego. Also, most of the people post things in a way that makes them look a particular way, which creates a false identity in the minds of others and themselves. People start viewing themselves based on how cool and appreciated they are on social media.

According to the renowned spiritual teacher and my favorite, Eckhart Tolle, ‘The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work we do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special abilities, relationships, personal and family history, belief systems, and often nationalistic, racial, religious, and other collective identifications. None of these are you.’

Building awareness against ego

Ego is the opposite of love. It is something that creates a barrier between two human beings. It makes one feel separate from the others. Remember, whenever you feel an emotion that creates a sense of distance from others, it’s the ego. Jealousy, anger, and hatred are nothing but ego shouting loud.

The ego is a defense mechanism. It lives in limitation and judgment. It is just a program, a human condition. Instead of hating yourself for running the egoic programming, love yourself and your mind, and investigate your ego.

The first and basic thing is to be aware of the ego. Pay attention to your thoughts, observe your behavior patterns, and identify what triggers you. Quoting Eckhart Tolle again, ‘The moment you become aware of the ego in you, it is strictly no longer the ego, but just an old, conditioned mind pattern. Ego implies unawareness. Awareness and ego cannot coexist.’

How to manage ego

• Be open to new ideas and be okay with unlearning your old beliefs, or values, which no longer serve you. Try to understand someone’s contrary opinions without the need to prove them wrong.

• Learn to take feedback and criticism positively and do not feel offended or become defensive. It is only helping you to grow. Have a few friends or family members who will always tell you the truth and act as a mirror to keep you grounded.

• Accept your mistakes and failures without hating yourself or feeling embarrassed. See it as a part of your journey, learn from it, and move on.

• Give an equal amount of respect to yourself and others. Never compare yourself with anyone. It’s only comparison that makes one feel superior or inferior to others. Believe that everyone has their own unique journey.

• Feel secure with yourself and cooperate instead of competing with others. Appreciate and compliment others whenever you can, it doesn’t make any less good.

• Accept others the way they are instead of wanting them to behave as per your demands and expectations.

• Seek help whenever you need it. Don’t think that only weak people ask for help. We are all interdependent as human beings and are here to co-exist with each other’s support. It’s natural to not always be at your best and share your feelings with the people who are close to you. Being vulnerable dissolves the ego like nothing else.

• Stop taking things personally. The ego loves to get offended. When we choose to be offended over things, we are actively choosing to allow the ego to take hold of our lives and create pain. If someone says or does something that makes you feel any negative emotion, you have two choices: You can react and engage in conflict or you can recognize that the trigger within you is an opportunity for your own growth. You can choose to think that anything negative said or done by someone is a projection for their own ego.

• Forgive. The ego loves being right. When you forgive, you allow your heart to open. You separate from the need to be right and instead choose love. Forgive others, and forgive yourself too.

• Let go of trying to be right, trying to win, trying to be seen, trying to be heard. Instead, observe. The ego wants to prove itself and jump up and down to gain acceptance and validation.

There is this one line said by Gautam Budhha, which is the only thing one needs to keep in mind, to keep the ego at bay. It says, ‘Events happen, deeds are done. There is no personal doer.’ If only we could be aware of this little ego monster, nothing can stop us from being loving and creating beautiful relationships.

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Discussion Board

How does ego affect us personally and professionally?

Ego prevents us from connecting with others on a meaningful level. It destroys relationships and makes us arrogant 😢
anchal rath
Ego pollutes our aura. It creates a toxic environment for ourselves as well as for others. In a professional world people will refrain themselves from entering this toxic environment and the person exerting such toxicity will spoil his/her interpersonal relationships.