“He’s an egomaniac,” you hear someone say. “She lets her ego get in the way,” someone says. What do they mean?
It means they’re letting their ego drive their lives. And the ego is a terrible driver. It keeps crashing into other people’s egos.
An ego is a fine thing to have.
We all have one. It evolved as a survival mechanism. But it can over-react, and often does, especially during an argument. Or at times when we're feeling insecure.
When you perceive a threat, the ego goes into four-alarm-fire mode.
Did your boss just look at you cross-eyed? What does that mean?
The ego unleashes a stream of fear thoughts. Did I do something wrong? Will I lose my job? Will I lose my house? Will I have to beg for quarters on the street? And so on…
You’re scared. Your heart starts pumping harder, your breathing gets faster, and your nerve ends tingle. Your body automatically prepares for fight or flight.
In fact, you’re terrified of something you just made up in your head.
Something that may not be true at all.
The ego helped keep our prehistoric ancestors alive. It can help protect you from real threats, like a charging rhino. But often, it's trying to protect us from some kind of emotional hurt. We experience threatening events or feelings as attacks that we need to defend against.
"Leggo My Ego"
By noticing and letting the negative ego thoughts go, fear has no power over us. We experience healthier relationships and greater success in our personal and business lives.
If the ego is in charge during an argument, logic and reason fly out the window.
Defenses are up on both sides. It’s ON!
You hear the other person saying ridiculous things -- either to blame you for the problem or to justify what they did. Of course, you think your own arguments are perfectly rational. If your ego is doing the talking, they're probably not.
But in the moment, your ego thinks conceding a single point is total annihilation.
Maybe the most rational thing is to be quiet for awhile.
Listen to the other person’s ego sounding off and resist your own ego's impulse to attack.
Don’t give their ego anger back to them. Both of your egos are sounding alarms, so calm yourself, breathe, and allow the other person to calm down.
A good technique when someone else is in an explosive ego state is to pay attention to what they're saying, then feed back what you hear them saying.
When the person feels heard, or explains what they meant, they are able to calm down. Chances are, when the fireworks die down, both of you will be able to see the problem more clearly and figure out some solutions.
How can you leggo your ego?
We can never get completely rid of the ego. We couldn’t operate without it. We just don’t have to make it the driver of our lives. We need to be in charge.
The thing is, the ego is sneaky. It will jump into the driver’s seat and take the wheel when we’re not paying attention. That’s why it’s important to notice your thoughts and weed out the ego-driven ones.
Noticing is a big part of mindfulness.
When you notice your ego is driving you into a ditch, you have the option to stop the car and get out.
Breathe. Calm your heart and mind.
In a cool, collected state of mind, you can see clearly where you are and how to steer the car out of the ego ditch and get back on the road of rationality.
The ego feeds you some weird thoughts at times.
If you practice mindfulness regularly, you’ll get better at spotting weird, negative thoughts as they come, and then letting them go.
Remember that they’re just thoughts. You only give negative thoughts power when you embrace and accept them. So choose not to.
Practicing mindfulness is a way to leggo the ego.
Mindfulness means slowing down, being in the moment and noticing what’s going on in your mind and body.
You can cultivate mindfulness by meditating.
A meditation teacher and author, Eknath Easwaran, says, “No meditation, no breakfast.” Doing it first thing every day is a habit that relaxes you and strengthens your ability to focus. Even five or 10 minutes a day is helpful.
The traditional method of meditation is to focus on your breath.
Close your eyes, inhale slowly for a count of three, hold for three, then release for three. Then breathe normally, noticing the inhale, then the exhale. Thoughts will be tugging at your sleeve for attention, but just keep bringing your mind back to the breath.
Or you can choose to silently repeat a word, a verse or a passage.
It might be mentally counting slowly to 10, one number with each exhalation. It can be a favorite poem. It might be an inspirational passage. It doesn’t matter, but choose something simple you can focus on during your meditation.
If you get antsy sitting, try walking meditation.
Take slow, measured steps, noticing how your feet feel on the ground, how the pressure changes as the heel contacts the ground, then the mid-foot and the ball of the foot. Pay attention to all the muscles you use to lift your foot and place it on the ground.
Some people like eating meditation.
Close your eyes and notice how the food feels as you chew it. What’s the texture, what does it sound like when you chew, and how does it taste? You’ll enjoy brownies and other goodies more when you slow down so you can experience it with all of your senses. And slowing down can improve your digestive process.
If you’re not into meditation, you can just take a few minutes to sit and breathe in and out slowly and feel calmer.
“Leggo my ego” can remind you to get the ego out of the driver’s seat.
Then you can focus on being fully present in the moment without the fear and anxiety that leads to anger, conflict and depression.
Could “Leggo my ego” help you experience more peace and harmony in your life? Maybe it's worth a try.