The Roaring Ego

May 23, 2010 by

The Roaring Ego

A dear friend and I were talking about how easy it is for our egos to rear their demonic heads and explode to the front when our belief systems are challenged. I’m sure you’ve seen this both looking across the dinner table as well as in the morning mirror.

When things are going well, easily, as planned (or as we think we’d like to plan them … ie. when we’re doing nothing to upset the apple cart of our beliefs), our ego can be fully engaged in silent control. We have the illusion that everything is OK. But when something doesn’t quite go the way we intellectually think it should … watch out … watch your defense systems come right to the top to protect that ego …

Let me ask you a question. What would you say if you heard the following:

  • “You’re not as good looking as you think”
  • “You’re terrible at your job. You’re fired”
  • “You’re not the person I thought you were”

Are your answers something like “tough shit, you’re wrong, I’m gorgeous/I quit/I’m leaving” or it’s counterpart “oh my, you are so right, I can’t believe I didn’t know I was this scruffy/this incompetent/this mean” Is your ego defending itself with shield and sword, or throwing a pity party?

On a gut check level, are you physically feeling these responses as emotions, as physical sensations? That’s the ego. I’ve seen mine get so fully wrapped up in defending me (by the way, I didn’t ask for it to defend me) that it’s almost comical. I’ve gone to war of words with all it’s attendant collateral damage just to keep my belief that I’m the best/worst.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can simply keep your ego in it’s safe little cage by realizing that being the best/1st/worst/last doesn’t really matter. That it only matters to your ego. That it doesn’t define you. And that if you let it define you, you’re not in control, your ego is.

So here’s the question: “What do you consistently have to be the best/worst at?” If you can take a step outside yourself, ask yourself “why do I need to win/lose that” and realize that winning/losing doesn’t matter, you’ll free yourself of that little ego chain.

See you on the wire

— Steven Cardinale

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