Have you ever had a time where you completely ignore the advice someone gives you because you think you know better? Or maybe you get in an argument which damages your relationship with someone and you wait indefinitely for the other person to apologize to you first? Maybe you refuse to do something you know you should because you are worried you won’t do it well and will look stupid.
These are some examples of how ego can control us. We think our ego is there to protect us, but really it usually serves as more of a hindrance. We overestimate ourselves and ultimately kick ourselves for it later (although we wouldn’t dare admit that to anyone). Why do we need to control it?
Most of the time when we look at how the ego controls us, it does so in a way that appears so stupid, but while we are under it’s spell, it’s normal to us. The ego contorts our image of reality with one that in any other case would seem ludicrous to us. A simple comment from someone appears to be an insult. Someone doing a normal every day thing becomes someone scheming against us. It’s like paranoia kicks in. Until we get out of our heads we are adding extra meaning to things that we shouldn’t be. In the examples I give, you’ll see how some of this plays out.
We Don’t Know Everything
No one knows everything. Sometimes someone tells us what we should do and we automatically assume the person is an idiot and doesn’t know what they are doing. “They are challenging my knowledge. They think I don’t know what I’m doing but I know more than that ^&%$&” we think to ourselves. This is an unhealthy way of thinking as it prevents us from being open to receiving criticism. When people criticize us, it can hurt. It’s not fun hearing someone tell you how you screwed up. While not all criticism is constructive, it is necessary to keep an open mind when people point out our weaknesses. After all, this is how we can improve. Being open to criticism allows us to see things that we otherwise would be blind to had someone not pointed it out to us.
Ego Gets Between Our Relationships
Ego can prevent us from having healthy relationships. We might come across someone that is a jack of all trades, causing us to feel insecure about our own skills. This can lead us to thinking that person doesn’t like us and just wants to cause problems for us. Often times, we might excel in a skill that the other person is lacking, causing them to feel insecure in front of us, giving them the same impression we have of them. Tension can arise as a result.
Maybe it has nothing to do with being insecure. It could just be a stupid argument that has left both sides refusing to talk to each other. Both sides feel like they have been wronged. Both waiting for the other side to apologize. After all, it was the other person’s fault, right? We want the other person to come up to us and tell us they were wrong because we want to feel like we were right. Apologizing feels like admitting to the other side that we messed up. The reality is often that both parties messed up.
Allowing ego to get in the way for these reasons is just stupid. Yeah, your ego feels threatened by the guy that has all these cool skills and experiences, who cares? Talk to him about them. Let him know you think it’s cool he could do that. Be genuine. Be the bigger person and apologize first to whomever you are mad at. Not only does tension go away, but sometimes this is where real friendships can be built. Maybe the other person will react coldly to you. That’s okay. You can still walk away knowing you tried. You put the ball in their court.
There’s the times when we don’t do something for fear of looking stupid. We have this image of ourselves in our heads that we want everyone else to have about us. Doing something we aren’t good at, especially in front of a bunch of people, can feel embarrassing, can eat away at that image of ourselves we try so hard to protect. Maybe it’s approaching a cute girl or guy. We see that person and worry they won’t think we are good enough. If they reject us, surely others will see and then everyone will laugh at us, and we can’t have that can we?
The thing is, everyone looks stupid at some point. Everyone is human and has their own insecurities. Something that seems normal to you terrifies someone else, and vice versa. Yet we rationalize to ourselves that the hard thing is somehow more difficult for us than it is for others. Our perception and ego betrays us. Are we really going to allow our worry of what other people think about us affect our lives? We only have one life. Why waste it in fear of what others think? The one opportunity we have to do what we want to do and we throw it away because of people we don’t even care about beyond the next two minutes. What is that one opportunity completely changes everything for you? You never know unless you just do it.
There’s lots of ways that ego affects us. Regardless of how it creeps in to our lives, we need to make sure we keep it under control. It’s vital to our success that we do so. We don’t have anything to benefit from by letting it run amok. It just prevents us from having more opportunities. So now that we know we need to control it, how do we? This is something we will look at next time.
When has ego prevented you from growing?