Friday Question: How Do You Deal With Your Ego?

Good Morning,

It’s Friday again, and as has become tradition, I will be posing a question for anyone to answer. But before I do that, I would just like to thank everyone that has commented and participated in responding on any of my pieces. Often, it is many of your astute opinions that have led me to broaden and expand my own personal perspective on things. More than that, I realize that I am connecting with people that are thinking critically and openly as well, and so I would just like to show my appreciation by thanking all that have shown their support. Thank you.

So it’s right to it then, I suppose: question time. How do you keep your ego in check?

This time, I’m targeting a more direct question to all of your readers. I see the ego as an obstacle that we all have to face if we want to live anything more than a shallow life. So I’m wondering how people overcome or at the very least deal with such a thing. How exactly do you move beyond the material desires that tease and tantalize us? The want for a certain image, to have certain things, to be a certain way.

I’ve come to see the ego as an invisible enemy of human beings, an obstacle we created for ourselves. We each have a different ego, but a similarity we all share is that we want. It is that desire that we all have, and I want to know how you handle your’s? What do you do when the ego gets a little too big?

Thanks again everyone, and I’m looking forward to some great conversations.

–mrprose

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47 thoughts on “Friday Question: How Do You Deal With Your Ego?

  1. A healthy ego allows for some desires …for achievement and good self-esteem. It is perfectly good to be proud of ourselves for our virtues and abilities. But, the large ego that gets too self-absorbed tends to hurt others, in its quest for self-fulfillment.

    How to deal with it? self-awareness, introspection of actions and thoughts,stepping aside from selfness to place ourselves in the hearts and positions of others, and always be prepared to make amends by redeeming ourselves when the ego does err. If we have placed a wound we must make effort to heal it.

    • I agree, but I would still just like to say that being happy with yourself is still more empowering than being proud of yourself. It’s a subtle difference, but it has a large impact. And I also believe that the ego can be worked down to a manageable level.

  2. If we use “ego” to mean our sense of self, then I think it is a vital part of our minds. One’s ego should be ordinate, that is, our understanding of ourselves should be accurate. If I believe that I can run faster than a train, for example, I am likely to have problems the next time I am at a railroad crossing.

    So, if by “too big” you mean “not accurately reflecting our capabilities” then the cure is honest introspection. Just like our understanding of any other part of the cosmos, our understanding of ourselves is based on a combination of personal experience, mediate knowledge (that which is told to us by others) and contemplation.

    Ego, as such, is no more an enemy of human beings than vision or hearing is. It is a tool that we can use to model the universe and our place in it, and like all tools its utility is dependent on its accuracy.

    • My argument to your view would be that it is impossible for your mind to create an accurate sense of yourself, for you are always changing, in every moment, and cannot remain the same way. Thus, the ego is always going to be an inaccurate image of yourself. What’s more, I think one’s sense of self can be found from a deeper, purer place.

      I do believe the ego can be used as a tool, in a way, although I’m not sure I would be able to articulate why. I think I need to sit with it.

  3. I’m not my ego, … i know it is often huge. I’m aware of it and then it has no power. It is the sportsreporter in my head, and when necessary, i will make it more silent.
    Most of the time i like my ego. I need it, facing all the other egos around.
    But i know how relative this my ego is.
    Fear, greed, hope, anger, possesive love, … all emotions that seem to feed ego.
    Keep those emotions, all emotions equally in perspective, and ego is tamed.
    Do i do this? Not really, … but fear has been reduced in me in the past 10 years, compassion has taken over often. Anger is still an issue, but is now often detected and transformed into the energy of action

    • I have to ask for you to expand on this for me – what do you mean when you say that emotion feeds the ego? I’ve never made that connection, and would like to understand how you did. And also I would like to ask how one “needs” the ego. Thanks.

      • This is not easy … here goes:
        Pride is one of the stronger forms of ego. Where does it come form?
        a desire to look/appear better than … {} circle of friends, acquaintances, neighbours, … So it is about keeping up appearances. It makes us greedy …
        On a deeper level this greed is fueled by the fear of not being able to keep up and fall into disgrace, and not belonging any more to the circle of supposed friends or colleagues, or family or classmates or … {}
        Fear is a strong emotion
        When this fear becomes acute, anger is the result. Anger is a strong emotion.
        When this fear becomes chronic, hate is the result. Hate is a state of emotion.
        Does this make any sense?

      • Needing an ego: in a world full of egos, you would need one to survive – but there might be a moment that ego can be replaced by presence. The ego can be transcended, but not passed, or repressed; it is part of being human. Ego is a by-product of mind, mind thinking about self, which is formed from the age of 3 till 6. You need an ego to understand about other egos. You cannot talk to anyone if you don’t adjust to their level. Both sides should make an effort, but if you want to get your message through, you need to put yourself at the same level as the other. Being human is to communicate. You often need an ego to belong to certain groups. That’s what facebook is all about. I don’t really ‘need’ an ego to communicate, but it sometimes/often helps.

        There is a difference between ego and presence. When i teach i need presence, i need to be very aware of the audience. That does not mean that i’m proud of myself at that moment. Pride sometimes shows when a difficult exercise is solved without preparation on the whiteboard. Although it is easy to share this pride with the entire group who all contributed to the solution.

        Ego-death is for enlightened people and bodhisattvas. They are less rare than we think, but quite unreal … they communicate mostly by example without even the need of the mind.

  4. I try to apply the acid test, “If it’s done for the ego, it’s not for the soul”, but maybe that is a bit too harsh.

    Misha’s comment above is interesting. If, by ego we mean our sense of self, then that should not be negated, as we are then negating our self and that is important. But having an accurate sense of that self, without inflation or aggrandissement, that is the thing.

    I have a problem with ego, because if I let it then it becomes my master and drives me to pursue material and hedonistic goals that are never fulfilled. I don’t have any great answers and will be interested to see what other commentators have to say.

    Corinne at soulsnet

    • If the “ego” is the true sense of self, than that word would hold the opposite meaning to what I previously thought it meant. And like I told Misha, having an accurate ego (sense of reality) from the mind, is impossible. It needs to come from a different place.

  5. I’ve been told by several people that I have “no ego” and should be more “conceited.” I’ve always felt that ego gets in the way of happiness, so I try to have the personality of an old shoe so everyone feels comfortable around me. But sadly, people have their own issues and will hate or feel threatened for whatever reason, so I just avoid those types and stay around the most positive people who are like me. I feel very blessed that I have a husband and many friends who are like myself. When I tell acquaintances that my husband has no ego, they can’t believe it. “A man with no ego?” they say. It’s a shame that people think everything is black and white and don’t embrace the gray in life — as gray is beautiful. Plus, it must be exhausting to have the feeling of trying to impress or keep up with the Joneses all the time. I was too old for that even when I was a teenager. Just live and be 🙂

    • Beautiful message, but it’s not quite that simple. I don’t mean to question you in particular, but I have often heard people claim that they are not materialistically driven, or have an ego, and yet they still do – they are simply unaware (perhaps by choice).

      The gray in life is beautiful, though, I agree with you on that. It takes bait of awareness to drop the black and white and see a blend.

      • I’m sorry you feel that way (in feeling that it’s not quite that simple). I feel that is is very simple because it’s easier to feel the vibes of the larger percentage that is ego driven. It’s just like being around a “gossip.” It’s draining and an ugly place to be and you want to avoid being there as much as possible. I mean, I could, would and DO try to bring out the better in such a person to help elevate them to a higher level where they do not feel that they have to try so hard to prove something, as we all have our special place in life. Yet, this can make a person feel even more threatened and confused. (Especially someone super insecure who would think, “Why does this person want to have anything to do with ME?” Now THAT is where my questioning comes in. What made a person so cynical in such a gorgeous world?

        Perhaps because as a writer I’ve interviewed so many who were where they needed to be, so I’ve seen more positive in people than negative. Therefore making me more sensitive to the negativity and not wanting to be around it because I’ve created what I feel is the best world to be in — living a euphoric dream around euphoric people who “get it.”

      • I am simply saying it isn’t so simple because life is quite good at throwing unexpected things at us and knocking us down. Not everyone’s life is simply just because they choose it to be so. I’m glad you are where you are though. It sounds to me like you have many things figured out.

      • Oh I’ve definitely had some unexpected blows, especially in the past few years: a cancer scare, an eye-doctor that gave me the wrong prescription leading to eye strain, much aggravation and money, etc. But I always keep the ego in check, work my way around the negative and never ever ever have a chip on my shoulder. I treat people how I love to be treated. Life is way too short.

      • That is such a powerful message, and I admire your strength in going through that. I’m not sure if I could’ve come through all of those things with a smile.

  6. I think that ego is a negative word. I think we should have a certain amount of pride in ourselves and of course a healthy self esteem. But the word “ego” to me speaks of a general feeling that ones self is better than others. The thought of a person controlling their ego by examining themself, putting things into perspective about there abilities, and honestly determining how much ego is too much, are things that a person with an expanded ego wouldn’t do. So, that couldn’t be the answer for getting the ego out of the way as an obsticle. A shallow person, as you say, would be the one with the ego problem. So, though all of that seems like the right way to overcome that obstacle, a shallow person would have none of that. They wouldn’t have the capacity to honestly look at themselves that way. In my case and I believe in most cases, the way that the expanded ego obstacle is removed would be by some event that crushes that illusion of themself and their big ego.

  7. The ego conundrum. Villain or friend?

    I am alive. I have wants, wishes and desires.

    I learn and grow by inhabiting all of my being even, and especially, the parts of me who admittedly seek less noble goals.

    I am big enough to be there as an awareness to feel why a part of me wants what another part of me judges as egotistical.

    My ego is at play as I write this! 🙂

    Great Discussion, Thanks

    • Wow, well put. I think all of your answers are well put, really. The ego is always a challenge and a part of human beings for a reason – we have to find out that reason for ourselves. Sounds like you have some good ideas though!

  8. ” I see the ego as an obstacle that we all have to face if we want to live anything more than a shallow life.” First, that is beautiful, and gave me a lot to think about. I agree with you there. I think there is a certain amount of our self that we need to retain, and it is good and natural to be happy and proud of the truly good things about ourselves. Personally, I often find that those are the qualities I have that allow me to do good toward others, and I try to cultivate those qualities. I work with the public, so every morning I have an opportunity to think about this topic. I try to make it my goal to make every person I come in contact with feel special. I say every morning to myself, “remember to find any opportunity to brighten each person’s day.”

      • That’s a good question. I generally have always just lumped the two together. I guess I would have to say being proud of myself would occur when I did the things I know I should do (morally),regardless of whether or not it made me happy. (There are times that doing the right thing can have considerably negative consequences for someone.) I could even then say that it would be the biggest step to say if doing those things that make me proud of myself actually made me happy too. And sometimes they do, and those are the times I could say my ego is really in check.

  9. I wonder if “Ego” would exist if humans did not form society or community living. What if we had little or no social interactions and were as individually isolated from each other as evolution would permit?
    Controlled “Ego” can serve as a great tool toward inspiring ambition and excellence.

    I haven’t yet figured out a way to suppress my ego. I know that I need to find one soon, because all stupid decisions in my life have been the result of “Ego”.

    • I like your honesty. I’m sure there are many of us that could (or should!) put our stupid decisions down to our Ego.

    • Yes, true. All of my “stupid” decisions are a result my ego, I know that without a doubt. I also agree that the ego wouldn’t exist, or at least not as much, if we were isolated and had no form of competition with others of our race. But that’s not how it is – we are a social race. We must accept that.

      And for the ego… I do not see the ego as requiring suppression. I think the ego, rather, should be left. Left alone, left behind, left to wither away. We feed the ego, but if we move on and pay attention to other things (albeit difficult), and don’t make a battle of it, I think people can
      “surpass” the ego. Granted, I haven’t yet done this completely for myself, but so far on my journey, I can tell you that it is working for me.

  10. I’m still at it. Ambition is good, obsession is not. Interest and drive are good, greed is not. Desire is good, coveting is not. I do have an easier time of it as time goes on. Often, once I sit with the reason for the feeling of inadequacy , then it becomes neutral. Being grateful for what I have always helps too.

    • You jump into the gray area of subjectivity when you use words like “good” and “bad”. You see, you described desire as good, but Buddhism is all about dropping all desire in life. Are you saying they are wrong?

      • hmm. i don’t see “good” and “bad” as gray in the least; they are rather black and white. but i see what you mean about subjectivity. desire is “good” if it leads to honorable deeds and outcomes — meaning: i desire to help the homeless, so i work at a nonprofit for the benefit of the homeless.

      • I suppose good and bad aren’t gray for you, but seeing as they are different for everyone, they seem gray to me. You are entitled to live by whatever standards you choose, and if you are doing what you believe is good, I can only encourage you.

      • i thought buddhism was about the desire to make yourself and others happy, and about the desire to relief suffering … without desire, you are a tree …

  11. I like that Molly. Sitting with the reason for the feeling of inadequacy until it becomes neutral. I shall definitely try that. And counting my blessings. When I remember to do that my day always goes better, so thank you for reminding me.

    Corinne

    • you’re welcome, Corinne! inadequacy, or the feelings of it, tell me many things about which i am glossing over, usually stemming from feelings of invisibility or not being heard. i have to learn that while i am also my own worst critic, i am also my own best cheerleader. i mustn’t rely on extrinsic gratification to propel me through life. sounds like i believe in living on islands… but i don’t. society is important for a balanced life, but in the end: it’s just us.

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  13. Ego – “a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance”. I think this is very important to our own identities. Lacking a sense of self-esteem or self-importance can be as detrimental to our lives as having way too much.

    God thinks I’m important so why shouldn’t I? He does of course expect humility too. We try to achieve a balance within the family. Our youngest are 9 and 7 so need encouraging and boosting and to know they’re ‘worthy’. At the same time we have to occasionally reign in our daughter (who is beautiful, clever, artistic and athletic) and remind her that there’s always someone out there cleverer, faster etc. than her, but these are people she can learn even more from. Then in turn, she needs to be willing (and always is I have to say) to help others who may not be as good yet as she is at something. Her little brother won’t take her help though, but I’m pretty sure this is normal sibling stuff 🙂

    So for me, ego is like chocolate cake: necessary but to be moderated.

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  15. It depends on my mood I suppose. Sometimes I feel too overconfident and I act super cocky. Sometimes I feel sad and doubtful so I act super cocky in order to make up for it and then in turn convince myself to be confident (defense mechanism in order to change since I use to be a depressing person haha). But most of the time I try to control my ego in order to be ideal and not a dick.

  16. Eliminating my want for things I do not need is the most obvious answer for me. Spending time in nature, to remind me of where I came from. Watching Carl Sagan’s Cosmos helps with the ego dissolution too. Psilocybin mushrooms also.

    Nice blog! 🙂

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