“It’s surprising how many persons go through life without ever recognizing that their feelings toward other people are largely determined by their feelings toward themselves, and if you’re not comfortable within yourself you can’t be comfortable with others.” Sydney J. Harris
Our ego is a funny thing! It can be the source for self-esteem & motivation and on the other hand make us feel anxious, angry, disatisfied and hungry! Hungry for attention, approval and praise! This hunger can be at times so big that it leads to frustration and finally addiction. Additionally, our ego can hurt our relationships with others (if you feel your pride is shaken,
you get into fights, are not able to admit you’re wrong, lose the ability to see things from anothers point of view etc.).
If our own ego is at work, we stop really listening to others, because when they talk, we already have our own story standby and we can hardly wait to tell it. We want to share and get praise for being right, unique, and really clever!
I have seen myself in many situations when my ego told me that I don’t get enough attention or praise or when I’m simply felt outshined by the achievements of someone else. This lead to many unsatisfying and useless thoughts and worries about the personal identity. Noticing that it’s my ego talking to me and not my sense of justice or truth + the fact that most people are too busy with their own ego anyway, was the first step towards independence of approval.
Most of the time, we’re not aware of our demanding ego and how it affects our lifes, especially in destructive ways, whereas it’s quiet easy for us to notice the ego behaviors of others. But what is the ego actually and where does it come from?
The ego is not a direct experience, but an invention of society. The ego is not individual, it’s a social phenomenon – it’s society, it’s not you. You get the idea of who you are from others and consequently your ego can only be fead and satisfied by others-you slip into emotional slavery. As children we learn to behave in the “right” way, do the right things. If we comply and succeed, we get positive feedback and reward. This approve, attention and praise feels good and we continue to act in a way that is rewardet by society and finally we build our ego upon the behavior and skills that we receive praise for…It’s nothing else than conditioning-by society!
Therefore, you can be manipulated easily if you place too much importance on other people’s opinion. You have to behave in a certain way, because only then does the society appreciate you, you have to follow certain manners and rules. It gives you a certain function in the society and a sense of hierarchy and power. And if you remain satisfied with it, you’ll miss the opportunity of finding the Self – the true center of your personality which is independent of approval and is navigated by your curiosity, passion and heart.
The ego builds an “attention demander” in everything you do. If you look at the things you have, the luxury and material, lifestyle things- they’re all part of your ego! You want them, because your ego tells you that you need them in order to express your personality…it gives you a sense of stability in life! Looking back at the things I perceived as really valuable and trendy as a teenager, I have to laugh – simply because my ego is nowadays based on other things, another lifestyle…and propably I’ll laugh in 20 years from now about the things I find important today!
Now the psychologists distinguish what is called a positive and a negative ego. There’s nothing wrong in believing that you’re unique and special. It’s not more spiritual or humble to pretend to be less than you actually are! A strong positive ego will give you the neccessary motivation and self-confidence in order to grow as a person and build valuable relationships with other. Trouble only comes when we start believing that other people around us are not as special as we are. This is called negative ego.
Start looking for the ego in yourself. Whenever you feel bad, immediately close you eyes and try to find out from where the frustration is coming and you will always find it in the false center, your ego, which hasn’t been satisfied.
Your expectations were not met or your own performance was not how you wanted it to be- your ego is shaken. Just look, for the cause of your negative feelings. In most cases, the cause is not outside you. Nevertheless, people always look outside and ask:
Who/What is frustrating me? Who is the cause of my anger? But if we look outside we’ll miss. Therefore it’s important to train our awareness and see where our negative ego is sabotaging us and holding us back from learning new things, build valuable relationships and follow our interests and passion instead of doing things to impress others.