Our egos are the part of ourselves that distinguishes our individual selves as different and separate from the outside world. As a function of our being-ness on earth, it reminds us of our separateness as people and, at the same time, our unity as human beings.
From time to time, our egos and this sense of separateness can get the best of us and an unhealthy ego and rear its ugly head. When it does, we create unnecessary battles with the world. When we identify too much as individual and different, this imbalance, defined as selfishness, causes suffering, hatred, and isolation between ourselves and the greater good.
Here are six ways I have identified to help us explore the subject of egotism and liberate ourselves from the chains of our separateness.
1. Liberate ourselves from the need to feel superior Personal and professional acclaim does not involve being better than others, but rather involves setting higher standards for oneself.
There were times that I have judged others on the basis of their appearance, achievements, belongings, and so forth. I heard a funny song the other day by a comedian who said “The amount of money I have makes me better than you and because I’m rich it makes me more interesting and cool”. We all know that this is not always the case.
We must realize that we’re all born equal and that the lack we see in others is simply potential that has yet to realize itself. At the end of the day, we’re all people trying to figure out what our best is – in our own different ways.
Comparing can lead us down the wrong track; a track of resentment, hostility, and suffering. Those are feelings that I have known and these feelings materialize into arguments and decisions that don’t always serve us.
2. Release the need to have more. During a conversation, a man told me that he wanted more in his life to make him happy. When I asked him what “more” meant, he said, “A bigger house, a nicer car, you know… stuff.”
Upon asking him what that stuff meant to him, he told me he felt that everyone was judging him and that he believed life was about getting more things to show that he’s successful. It didn’t take long for this man to reveal that he was, in fact, very unhappy about the direction his life was taking, feeling as if he was never where he wanted to be and never seemed to have enough.
This type of thinking results in us always being in a perpetual state of wanting and striving without a clear and definite path to our goals. This perpetual state eliminates the possibility of materializing our goals and values. When we stop needing more, we find that the true things that we desire begin to show themselves to us now.
The task of letting go of the need to have more begins with detaching our emotions and realizing how little we actually need to live happy and fulfilling lives and know what it really takes to make us truly fulfilled.
3. Letting go of our what others think about us
Good or bad, reputations aren’t things, but rather images in the minds of others and consequently, things we have very little – if any – control over. Say, for example, I went to a dinner party with twelve people. All twelve people would have something different to say about me by the end of the evening.
When we’ve become so entranced by what others think about us, we forget about our own personal purpose; our life’s work, if you will. Adhering to our own personal message can act as a guide through the very limited perspectives and opinions of others. Most often than not, we allow ourselves to be dragging down by the limited perspectives of others rather than uplifted. Choose to be uplifted; by allowing that energy to propel you into the direction you have chosen for yourself.
4. Choose not to be defined by achievements (and failures) Many people find themselves to be the things they’ve done – good or bad. In this case, allowing ourselves to boast over our accomplishments denies the fact that everyone and everything is capable of harnessing their energies into greatness or nothing if they so choose.
Sometimes, I find that people – myself included – get hung up on the things we’ve done. So much so, that it keeps us from being open to experience new things in our lives. To snap myself back on track, I like to say, “Ok, I’ve experienced that. What else shall I do now?”
What I’ve discovered is turning attention to the act of creating and detaching ourselves to what actions – good or bad – have occurred, we’re allowing ourselves the ability to create more in total freedom.
5. We don’t always have to be right
This one is a toughie for so many; even myself! I always remind myself that I rather be happy than right, because I see so many people who rather be right than happy! What’s the point of that?
Unfortunately, the ego – that sense of personal identity – has the desire to prove itself right and others wrong. This type of thinking can lead to feelings of hostility towards others, can isolate us from creating better solutions together, and can create a sense of bitterness towards others and the world at large.
Releasing the need to be right in conversation and between relationships is choosing to trust that the truth will make itself known. This act strengthens the ability to stay focused of your life’s purpose, to feel good about what you’re doing, and improve relationships. Try it out for yourself! In the middle of an argument, think twice: “Am I arguing just to be right?” What do we really have to prove, anyway?
6. Stopped being offended
This is where we can utterly be stopped on our tracks without doing a thing. Feeling insulted can bring a variety of emotions. For example, the person didn’t respect us and thus we’re left feeling upset for hours, days, months, and even years. The only person we’re hurting in this case is ourselves because we’re choosing to focus on that hurt than the potential of new experiences.
I’ve also seen people look for reasons to be offended. Saying and doing things to spark controversy, to incite someone to say or do something contradictory just to prove oneself right. There must be a better way to teach others the truth as we see it.
Picking at our wounds keeps us from completely healing. Dropping our need to be right and having to see the world in a certain way can restore relationships, improve our lives, and move forward on the path of creating and experiencing new things.
It’s not easy controlling our egos. They can be mean, nasty, and short sighted. Even as I work on all of these, I care to share these thoughts with you to save you from the suffering I’ve endured as a result of my own ignorance. How do you overcome your own ego?
Leslie, Inc. offers solutions for finding happiness through one-on-one coaching, mindful leadership retreats, and digital products. If you’re ready to GET HAPPY, check out Leslie’s guide packs. For more tips on achieving your state of happiness, sign up for Leslie, Inc’s weekly newsletter.