First, I’ll start by apologising for not writing as many of these articles as I should have, frankly my only excuse is 2020, but you know. It’s a new year so hey ho. At last, the latest in the Human Wellbeing series is here, and today we’re going to cover the subject of ego.
The Dreaded Ego
I should have covered this subject a long time ago because for me it’s the most important one. The reason I haven’t is because I have a chapter on this in an upcoming book as I branch out into nonfiction. I think there’s definitely enough on this subject to cover in slightly less detail here.
For me, and this only my opinion, ego is the biggest problem we face as humans. It is the cause of almost all the ills of this world. It blinds us, it makes us hate, it makes us greedy, it makes all the worst traits we possess come out.
First and foremost, I have to say, every single one of us has an ego. In ways it’s important and healthy, but it can with a little too much food, get quickly out of control and create a monster. I could go right to the top and point out why and how it effects the world and lives we lead, but again that is in the book. I could talk about narcissism and the extremes of ego that create it, but I’m no psychologist so I’ll leave that to them [click here to read more from Psychology Today]. What I will talk about is what it does, and hopefully practical ways that you or I can try and keep our ego in check and out of things we do in the real world, day to day.
Like I always say, I don’t really like talking about myself because I don’t want my blogs to be all about me, the author, but all about you the reader. In this instance, it makes sense to talk from my own experience. About 7 or 8 years ago, I suddenly realised that my own ego was holding me back. I couldn’t tell you how or when it happened, all I can say is it did. I wasn’t even especially egotistical but still to my surprise, it was. I started to recognise ego for the problem it is and can be. It makes us make irrational decisions for all the wrong reasons. I realised that when I reacted badly to something most of the time, it was because of ego. Even now, I may react in frustration to something and then over half an hour or so, manage to explain to myself that’s what’s making me react the way I am. The reaction comes from the emotion, but more specifically the emotion is created by ego.
I have a great example for you, my wife (she’s my business partner) suggested that I should give one of my books away for free, my first reaction was. “My book took me a lot of time and love to create, I’ve been working on it for years, I deserve to be paid for that.” But that wasn’t the end, I sat and thought and I did the free give away. The book reached number 1 in all categories on Amazon and the exposure was great. My logical mind told me that it would gain me readers, and sales of other books and reviews, my ego told me otherwise, and I gave my ego no place anywhere near my decision.
Many people have a false ego, an over inflated idea about their own importance, intelligence, talents or standing, and they will do things to make themselves look like they matter. It often comes out in petty attacks on those who they feel threatened by, or people they perceive as weaker than them. They fear someone that shows them up because of their abilities and try to elevate themselves above the person they fear. This creates a narrow mindset, whereby, you can’t be wrong, you can’t be less important or intelligent or talented or whatever else than that person. The trouble is, what did they miss while they were trying to bring them down a peg or two? Learning from the person that “shows them up”. I personally choose people like that as my mentors rather than be bruised by the fact they know better than me.
Being Wrong is Cool
Ego holds us back in a way that stops us shining, that stops us moving forward and hurts our human wellbeing in general. As we grow up and live our lives, obviously, we develop our own set of morals and beliefs. Those core beliefs and morals are as you – as you can get. It’s the core of the way we chose to live. We don’t like it when those are brought into question. It makes us feel confronted and we’d often react with anger to that situation or just not listen. The bottom line is, because of our egos we don’t like being wrong. Straight away logic has gone out of the window. What are the odds of us being 100% right about everything? Very slim I’d say. If we refuse to listen to other points of view, because we’re confronted by being wrong, how are we ever going to learn, grow and become the best us we can? We even actively find other people, or sources that agree with us the most, therefore validating our egos further. In that is the inherent problem. We are narrowing the opinions we hear and only the opinions that are aligned with our own. This is highlighted in the recent propaganda flying round all over the place. We can see how people with some level of intelligence can be spoon-fed information that isn’t even close to accurate. The trouble is you’ll never know that unless you look. Even though we don’t understand someone or agree with them at all, it doesn’t mean there’s nothing to learn from them. Keeping the ego balanced keeps us balanced as people.
Ego for Good
As with most things in life there is an upside to ego. It’s what keeps us striving to become more, it’s what gives us self-belief in the things we do and the drive to go forward. If you think about it, you’d never do anything if some people didn’t let you know you were good at it from time to time. I think the key is not to let it guide you. Have a moment to feel good and be proud of yourself and your achievements because that is ego earned the hard way, but we have to avoid letting it go to our heads. People tell me I’m an awesome writer, and that gives me a huge amount of confidence, but I don’t go round being a dick about it. If I got too wrapped up in my ego, I’m certain my next work wouldn’t have the same hunger within it. It’s the drive that makes me do it, to be the best I can. We need to always remember humility. My books are awesome though, ha ha!
It seems the best way to deal with ego, is by being totally honest with yourself. Ask yourself is ego driving your decisions or actions? It may be hard to admit, but that doesn’t seem a worthy reason not to admit it and chose the right decisions based around your actual options. Taking a moment just to question ourselves, is healthy in my opinion. Being honest with ourselves about what we are capable of and that opens us up to grow, learn and become better every day. Your human wellbeing will thank you.
“Don’t be perfect, just get better every day.”