Ego. One simple word, so much weight. If you are on a path to self-discovery, improvement, enlightenment or whatever you want to call it, I am sure you have read tons about what this word means. I too have read so much about the Ego and have discovered that overcoming the Ego or in other words, breaking your attachment to the Ego, is maybe THE most vital part to living a life of peace. There are so many different philosophers that have given their definition of the word but I will just give you my personal understanding of it.
Ego in it of itself is not necessarily a “bad” thing. Some people consider it the mind and your thoughts about life and in a lot of ways it does serve some purpose, but essentially it is an image or ideas of who you are and who others are. It is also what gives you the idea that you are separate from others, on a heart or a soul level we are all connected but the Ego will want to tell us otherwise. In some respects we need it in our human existence to function in all of the roles that we play, man, woman, mother, father, job titles, etc., but all of the biggest problems in the world stem specifically from over identification with the Ego. The second you try to cling to an idea of who you are, an image to uphold so to speak, this is when you have become overly identified with the Ego. My main purpose of writing today is to help even one person learn that when you let go of your Ego you can be who you truly are and you can finally let other people be who they are. This is authenticity…I’m sorry this word is used to absolute death….but being who you are to the core without any ulterior motives and interacting with others based exactly on who they are, is true authenticity.
Here are just a few examples of what identifying with your Ego might look like:
Thinking you are superior OR inferior
Basing your worth on your financial status or job title
Being judgemental of the way other people live their lives
Having a hard time giving other people credit for their accomplishments
Making others wrong or always needing to be right
Boasting or bragging
Lying or exaggerating to uphold an image
Constantly looking for sources of outside validation (social media is really, really testing this one)
Being threatened by someone else’s success (jealousy, envy, etc)
Judging yourself or others based on things like the size of your home, the car you drive, how much money you make
Striving for recognition for everything you do
Playing the victim
Basing your worth on how others view you
I could probably go on, but you get the idea. I ASSURE you, I am not being preachy here in the least. We are human and part of the journey to enlightenment is to connect with your soul and disconnect with your Ego. We obviously need something to work on in the first place. If you are living a human life, you are currently faced with these egotistical behaviors daily in order to challenge yourself to grow. Think about it, I can almost guarantee you have constant situations where you can easily do or be one of the above OR you can make the choice in that moment to let it go and choose love instead. It’s always about choosing love. It’s hard. Our Ego is slowly diminishing as the world progresses and more people “get it” and it is clinging on for dear life. It actually just dawned on me recently that when I get annoyed for someone else having a “big Ego” that’s actually MY ego judging and labeling someone else. My true self is only concerned with my journey and being the best person I can be, if I become frustrated by someone else I am just as bad.
I know we see this play out in our children. Part of my goal when sharing these ideas on this blog is to take my teeny tiny corner of the Internet and do my best to make the world a better place. If we can help our children to identify with their heart and soul and not their mind and Ego, we will all find peace and our future will be very bright. Think of your toddler. I had an experience with my son recently that showed me how opportunities to help our kids dis-identify with Ego can reveal themselves. My son is an all around mild and peaceful child. He is good natured and kind. I don’t worry to much about the man he will grow into, which is why every now and then I think I need to be thrown for a loop and shown how my parenting is required all day everyday. He had a baseball game recently where he didn’t play that well. He is typically a good player, gets a lot of recognition from his coaches, the other players and my husband and I. He also has no problem encouraging other children and being happy for their successes, which is why I never think twice to acknowledge him when he plays well. At this specific game he was just off. Struck out at every up to bat, dropped balls in the outfield, throwing lots of balls at the pitchers mound etc. He’s 7, by the way, and all of these things were complete non-issues in the real world. I care way more about how my son is as a human being than how he is at a sport. Which is why I was seriously upset at the behavior I saw. He was not only completely down on himself and in a terrible mood, but as I watched him I noticed he did not once cheer for his team mates or give them recognition for when they played well. It was almost as if he couldn’t be happy for others’ successes if he himself was not experiencing success. OH HELL NO, I needed to cut that crap immediately.
I don’t often get disappointedd in my children, they are children for a reason, but it was very clear to me that the universe was giving me a wonderful opportunity to give my child a lesson in Ego and how attachment to the Ego can lead to a lot of unhappiness. I explained to my son that his mood can not be determined by how well he plays in a game and that his performance can absolutely NOT dictate who he is as a person. This is a naturally friendly kid who let his view of himself in that moment (his Ego) affect how he treated those around him. I also took a moment to explain humility to him and sometimes when we are really good at something we need to be shaken up so we can learn. So we can grow. I think he got it. I also thought how if my husband and I had been overly identified with our own Egos we could have really screwed up in this moment either by being hard on him for his performance (showing him that how well he plays a sport defines him) or we could’ve displayed similar behavior to him which would have modeled that that type of thing is ok.
This is a very small example of the ways in which we can see when our kids are beginning to identify with their Ego and how we can parent from our heart and shut that shit down. When you think of the ways you might overly identify with your own Ego, try to figure out how you can begin to live from your soul, which I promise you will lead to peace. Every time you want to put someone in their place, make someone else feel wrong, feel threatened by someone, try to make yourself seem “better than”, feel envious, feel inclined to boast or brag…take pause and try it a different way. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but that is GROWTH. It’s why we are here and if we don’t figure it out we can never fully live a peaceful happy life. Be your real self, it is so much more comfortable and way less exhausting than clinging to the tings you are not.
The Enlightened Mama