4 Strategies to Eliminate Your Ego and Become Productive
“Ego trip: a journey to nowhere.” — Robert Half
We, humans, are creatures of vanity. It’s impossible to carry over our gifted innocence that we were born with. By the time we are full grown adults, we fill our world with idealistic desires and an inflated personality. The result is our very own creation — Ego.
The famous Austrian neurologist, Sigmund Freud defined the ego as “a coherent organization of mental processes”. In simple terms, what he meant was — Ego controls our actions, the way we feel about others and our emotions sway towards a negative direction such as hostility, arrogance, bossy, boastful, etc.
Suffering from ego isn’t a disability, there are effective strategies to combat them. Let’s first breakdown and understand how ego emerges in a human being and later, you’ll learn the effective strategies to deal with it.
WHAT IS EGO AND HOW CAN IT AFFECT YOU NEGATIVELY?
Phrases such as “The son will turn out just as egotistic as his father” are plain rubbish. Egotism isn’t passed on genetically. It isn’t a medical condition but rather a psychological one.
Researchers at “Society for Personality and Social Psychology” came out with an interesting theory. The subjects that were tested were introduced to games of chance (Blackjack, Roulette, etc.) or where gambling was involved.
The study proved that egotistic people never backed down when losing and end up depleting their finances just to avoid being a failure in public. Hence, entertaining egotism in your life has a greater chance of bringing you to ruin during a challenge.
Humility and egotism can’t exist in the same plane of thought. Either you’re humble or a showoff. Egotism can manifest as a self-defense mechanism for many depressed individuals.
While others have ego due to their inability to feel empathy towards lesser successful individuals than themselves. An egotistic human is generally self-obsessed and doesn’t understand logical statements. To better understand egoism, here are two examples.
You’re out with a group of friends for a football match. One of your friends starts chatting up about how he knows the star striker of the home team. Gradually, the conversation begins to center around how your friend knows all the powerful people around town. By the end of the football game, your friend is now self-obsessed about receiving maximum attention on himself rather than focusing on having a good time with friends.
Here’s another great example — an affluent politician running for president promises his people that he would improve the state of living if he’s elected into power. After being elected, he forgets his duties and begins to misuse his power for his own benefits. This is a classic case in modern society!
The following two examples make it certain that a person with an ego creates an invisible barrier between themselves and their followers. Eventually, people will not stand for all the negative hostility emanating from the egoistic individual.
They will begin to distance themselves. Psychologically, an egotistic person feels on the top of the world when he boasts of his accomplishments but the negative effect it has is quite disastrous.
Take this questionnaire to know if you’ve got an egotistic mind.
- Do you consider yourself the smartest person around when you’re out with friends?
- Every time you shop, do you have a habit of posting about it to your friends and family on social networking sites just to feed on the envy of others?
- Do you boast to people you’ve just met for the first time about your personal or career-based achievements?
- Have you posted an image of a loved one online even though you promised them that it would remain personal between the two of you?
- Do you silently sulk inside when your best friend just made the cut in the school’s football team?
- If you were to win second prize at the local beauty contest, would you storm out without congratulating the winner?
- Do you constantly gossip about other people’s flaws with your friends and family?
- Have you constantly set impossible goals for yourself in your life and feel frustrated for not reaching them?
- Do homeless people on the streets bother you?
For every “No” that you’ve answered, give yourself 1 point. For every “Yes”, remove 1 point. Start at a count of 0. Depending on the number of points, your results are listed below.
Below 2 points = Extremely Egotistic. People don’t enjoy being around you.
2 — 4 points = Somewhat Egotistic. Only your family and close friends may let you off the hook.
4 — 6 points = Barely Egotistic. Some traces of negativity. May offend strangers but not everyone.
6 — 8 points = Favored Egotistic. You’ve got the right mix of ego that others find you appealing.
9 points — Humble as a child. People love conversing and being around you for being such a sweetheart.
How Ego Affects Our Mental State and Relationships
Often without our knowledge, our own ego hurts our loved ones the most. Carl Jung, a Swiss psychologist, stated that
“The first half of life should be devoted to forming a healthy ego, the second half is going inward and letting go of it.”
Allowing ego to manifest in a relationship creates a tug-of-war between your own mental state and the emotion for your loved one.
It’s not just the personal relationships that ego destroys but also professional ones. Imagine if you refused to help your co-worker solve a problem when he or she needs your help the most just because you thought the task was too trivial to be bothered with.
To better understand if you’ve got the signs of egotism, here are a few ways of finding out —
1. Blaming everyone around you constantly
Of course, people make mistakes and it’s okay to point it out to them occasionally. But lately, have you stopped appreciating people’s talents and picked on their nitty-gritty mistakes often? If so, you might be suffering from a case of egotism.
Most egotists deny any responsibility for their actions and usually blame others for their downfall. Ego makes people feel like they are perfectionists and aren’t justified in committing a single mistake. There’s a thin line that separates egotism and narcissism.
Let’s take an example.
Your friend and you have decided to hit the casino on a Friday night. Both of you decided to try the roulette machine and after winning a few rounds, both of you are ecstatic. Your friend says it’s time to leave and asks you to cash out your winnings, but you decide to play on and by the end of the night, you lose all your money. You now pick an argument with your friend stating that gambling is wrong and it was his fault for encouraging you.
A non-egoistic mind would have taken the loss just as well as the winnings but being egotistic you just can’t handle defeat. Seeing all your money go has set off an internal alarm — your friend was a victim of your ego. In this simple case, you just lost a valuable friendship that might have lasted a lifetime.
Do any of us reflect a time in our lives, where had we taken responsibility for our actions, we could have still saved a valuable relationship? That’s right, that’s ego manipulation right there.
2. Exceptionally high levels of pride
Usually, pride and ego are the two best friends that enable an individual to attract a lot of enemies. “I’ve been a lieutenant in the army for 3 years before I was discharged, what have you been doing with your life?” is usually self-centered and portrays you as a valuable person to society and others have done nothing meaningful.
If you’re at a party and ask people to constantly take photographs of yourself more than your group, you certainly suffer from a bad case of pride and egotism. You’ve undoubtedly seen plenty of examples of egotistic friends that crop out an entire group photo to have their face-centered before putting it up on social media for the whole world to see.
This demonstrates that they want people to see and appreciate them over their friends.
3. Egotistic people spend more time in the fantasy world
It goes without saying, an egotistic mind creates elaborate stories where it presents yourself as the savior of humanity and how you’ll achieve great deeds in the future. In fact, individuals that spend more time dreaming about achieving something don’t achieve it. Don’t believe us? Here’s a research story by Wealth Research Group to support this theory.
The study states 98% of the subjects failed to achieve their dream because they spent more time in their fantasy world rather than in real life. Ego always looks at success through a narrow vision and forgets that failure is part of life.
An egotistic mind can’t accept defeat and usually gives up on long-term goals as soon as there’re signs of failure.
To get a reality check on yourself, ask yourself these questions and write your answers on a sheet of paper —
- Do you know your friends on a personal level?
- When was the last time you socialized?
- What was the last goal that you achieved in life that you set your mind on?
- Have you been arrogant to anyone in the past month? If so, list the names.
- Have you written down your goals on paper instead of just thinking about them?
- What methods have you utilized to achieve your goal?
- When was the last time you sought forgiveness with someone?
- What are the three best qualities in yourself?
- What is the one destructive quality that you’d like to eliminate from your life?
- What’s stopping you from achieving a successful career and a healthy social life?
Ensure you write your answers down and don’t just think about them. Written answers can help you reflect later and you’ll hold yourself accountable in the future. An egotistic mind is usually blind to all the above answers until you list them down and read them once a week.
Letting Go of Ego
Releasing your ego is liberating to the mind and the soul. Ego is like a driver that has been driving our mental state for years on a bad stretch of road without a break.
Finally, when we’ve removed ego, we take back control of the steering wheel and begin to take a journey into a blissful part of town that we’ve never ventured before.
If you’re ready to take up this journey and shed your ego, the next section is filled with effective strategies that will assist you in situations where your ego usually manifests.
The idea of these strategies is to fully enjoy life’s experiences without blocking them. In short —It’s time to get back to our childlike innocence.
4 TECHNIQUES TO MANAGE YOUR EGO AND ENABLE PRODUCTIVITY IN YOUR LIFE
1. Practice Forgiveness
“Why should I be the one to apologize, it was her mistake! Why should I do it first?”
Statements such as these are often heard because ego maneuvers us to behave in this fashion. If the other person doesn’t apologize, we end up hating them.
And once we hate someone, we have them in our mind forever causing us mental harm every time the conversation of this person is brought to light.
By forgiving people, we don’t just build relationships, but we also learn to release the mental pain that could’ve brought us further harm.
Forgiveness isn’t just for the other person, it’s also for your own mind and soul. A single act of forgiveness can release the pent-up negative energy caused by ego and will make your day seem much better than it is.
Try this simple exercise to see how uplifting forgiveness can be —
If you haven’t been talking to a friend or colleague for a long time due to a misunderstanding caused. Pick up the phone and call them and ask for their forgiveness. Once you’ve gotten through the hardest part of letting go of your ego, you’ll realize that it’s easier to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. After you’ve successfully completed your first act of asking for forgiveness, it’s time to forgive someone that’s done you wrong in the past. Once you’ve understood what it’s like to forgive and to be forgiven, you’ll truly feel liberated from the mental pain that’s been agonizing you for years.
Speaking of which, we’ve provided 8 valuable quotes below and an explanation behind their hidden meaning to help rid yourself of ego and practice a forgiving and meaningful life.
1. We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies. — Martin Luther King, Jr.
In this quote, we learn that human beings are capable of selfish deeds a well as great deeds. A single act of arrogance doesn’t necessarily dictate an individual’s entire life. Hence, by forgiving, you show your act of compassion and every day, you wake up you’ll know that you’ve been the better man or woman to forgive others.
2. The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness. — Honore de Balzac
The mother’s heart has no limits to how much she can forgive her own child for every little mistake he commits. We too should find the bottomless pit of forgiveness in us and forgive people until our ego sheds itself and shatters.
3. The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. — Mahatma Gandhi
The act of forgiving takes courage to forget the past and look towards the future. It’s easier to stop talking to someone once they’ve hurt us but it’s incredibly hard to allow them back into our lives by forgiving them. Hence, forgiveness is a trait of strength.
4. When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future. — Bernard Meltzer
When you absolve someone of their sins, you undoubtedly change the future for both your lives. Instead of having a silent future, the other person can share your happiness once again. The power to change the future, topples an egotistic mind.
5. There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love. — Bryant H. McGill
You don’t fully love someone if you don’t have the power to forgive them. When you love someone unconditionally, you should also possess the power to forgive them for their wrongdoings. Without forgiveness, there exists no love.
6. To err is human; to forgive, divine. — Alexander Pope
Every human is bound to commit a mistake but a human that can forgive someone’s errors is truly a magnificent being. Simple message yet powerful.
7. Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much. — Oscar Wilde
Your enemies will expect you to hate them after their wrongdoings. It’s time to surprise them by openly forgiving them and seeing their disappointed faces. No one expects people to forgive them so easily, when you do it unconditionally, you’ll be a walking miracle.
8. Inner peace can be reached only when we practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is letting go of the past and is, therefore, the means for correcting our misperceptions. — Gerald Jampolsky
Imagine walking around with a huge rock on top of your head for several years. It’s torturous. That’s what happens when we carry around hate and contempt for other people’s wrongdoings. By forgiving them, we aren’t just absolving them of their sins and moving towards the future, but we also throw away the rock we’ve been carrying for so long and experience a blissful existence.
These quotes alone won’t affect your life if there isn’t any meaningful action from your side. Practice shedding your ego every day, if you receive the chance to forgive someone, do it. The next time you find out your pet dog has made the house a mess, don’t scream at the little one but instead and pet him to show that your forgiveness isn’t just limited to humans.
2. Gain Confidence
Egotistic individuals lack self-esteem and are extremely insecure in nature. They show a false sense of confidence to keep up appearances. If you feel like keeping up a perfect image for the sake of your own ego is exhausting, then it’s time to surrender your selfishness and begin to act like the person you are underneath.
Get started on a journey towards attaining self-confidence. Here are some warning signs not to mix up self-confidence with egotism.
Listen but never follow the advice
Ego causes you to think you’re already following the best advice. And reading an article such as this is bad information. Sadly, it’s up to you to decide whether you need advice or would like to live a life based on mental suffering at every turn due to your own ill-informed advice.
It’s important to put action to the words you’ve heard. To keep your ego in check, you’ll need to evaluate the feedback you’re receiving about your behavior and take immediate action.
If you’ve heard a friend pass a comment such as “Stop being so full of yourself.” It means you’ve been hijacking the conversation with your achievements the whole time. Give others a chance to talk.
Always respect another people’s opinion even if you don’t share it. Everyone has the right to speak and offer their validated response, don’t spend time arguing about why you’re right, instead try to find a solution to why you’re wrong.
You do everything yourself
Self-help is great if you can perform the task efficiently. Trying to fix a leak in your bathroom instead of calling a professional plumber is a sign of ego. In the end, you’ll end up worsening the situation.
Also, egotistic individuals self-medicate instead of seeking medical help, this can be disastrous and even fatal. Don’t be obsessed with how much you know, instead seek help during a problematic situation.
3. Be Grateful
Gratitude is a sign of recognition and keeps your ego at check. When one is filled with gratitude, it’s impossible to be filled with ego at the same time.
Hence, it’s necessary to practice forms of gratitude even if you aren’t used to it. Here are some ways to start.
Maintain a Gratitude Journal
Write down a list of experiences of the whole day and what brought you deep levels of happiness and fulfillment in this journal. Encourage questions such as —
- What inspired me the most today?
- What is the happiest moment of my life?
- What brought me comfort in times of distress?
- Who is the one person that I’d like to thank today?
- Did I show gratitude to my mom and dad for their selfless affection?
- Is there someone that I haven’t thanked but should have thanked in the past?
This journal should only keep happy thoughts and all the things that you’re grateful for. Every time you open the book, it’ll fill your life with positivity. Add more things to the journal as time goes on. Another great idea is to add images to the journal of happy moments you experienced in life.
Maybe you met your spouse for the first time?
A winning moment during your sporting days?
or you met your best friend for the first time?
A special image can be attached to the journal to remind you of these wonderful times.
Take a Gratitude Walk Every Weekend
A gratitude walk is a special time that you spend between yourself and your mind to think of all the things you’re grateful for. Think of all the loving relationships you’ve made along the way.
Stop and look around the world and be thankful for being alive today. Pay special attention to your senses and be grateful for your job, your home, your family, your parents, and special occasions.
Do maintain a gratitude walk every week without missing out on it. A routine such as this breaks down the ego into little bits and pieces, never to see them again. Additionally, you’ll be filled with positive energy after the walk and will be in a much happier mood.
Write a Thank-you Letter to Your Special Ones
Gratitude is a powerful form of expression. When someone receives gratitude, they are overwhelmed by emotions. Take the time out of your day and write a hand-written letter to a friend that was with you through your tough times.
Show gratitude to your professor or teachers from your high school that helped you shape your life. Utilize words of expression in your letters and don’t forget to include a moment that was special between the two of you. With gratitude, you can make them feel special and you’ll get rid of any trace of egotism in the long run of things.
It’s a good idea to attach a small gift to the letter to show your sincerest gratitude for the time they’ve been with you. It doesn’t need to be an expensive gift, just pick out something that the special someone would prefer, this demonstrates that you remembered their favorite choices and it creates a special bond.
4. Alone Time
To understand yourself better, take a day out in search of adventure. Ego settles only when we allow it to. Go outdoors, grab your camera, sunscreen, and take pictures of nature such as pine trees, birds, buildings, and other beautiful exotic objects.
What this activity does is show you that life isn’t bottled around a small incident and that life can be much more if you allow it to.
If you don’t know what you should be doing by yourself. Here are some fun activities to consider
- Practice selfless love. Promise yourself that you’ll do at least one generous act like feeding a homeless person or spending time doing 30 minutes of community service
- Spend time feeding the homeless at a homeless shelter. This experience will surely break your ego to understand how unfortunate people are
- Take time off from work for your family. Most egotistic individuals are workaholics and refuse to spend time with their family
- Destress yourself by hitting the local bar or listening to some music. Don’t let your head fill itself with negative thoughts
- Physical exercise is a great way to allow positive energy into your life. Hit the local gym or go cycling
Meditating is another powerful source to understand your inner self better and shed the ego identity. The art of meditation is believed to bring you back to your true conscious state without living in fantasy. Meditation destresses the mind and allows you to think of solutions to your problems.
Here’s a simple step-by-step meditative technique to help you with your ego fix.
Step 1: Place a yoga mat on the floor, and simply lie down comfortably with your hands apart. Remain in this position for a full minute.
Step 2: Close your eyes and begin to take deep breaths. Don’t focus on anything but the flow of your breath. Do this for 2 minutes.
Step 3: Observe the movement of your body with every breath you inhale and slowly exhale out.
Step 4: Stop deep breathing and return to your normal breathing phase while keeping your eyes closed.
Step 5: Lie down for an additional 2 minutes with your eyes closed and visualize yourself in a happy moment from the past. Gently relax your facial muscles and smile as wide as you can.
Step 6: Open your eyes and slowly get back up.
And that’s it. Repeat this exercise every time you feel anxious, anger, or frustration. It will calm you back to your true self.
The meditative process takes less than 8 minutes to complete and will fully connect you to your inner self and will gradually reduce negative energy.
Within a month’s time, you’ll understand the benefits of humility and conscious living.
Ego is like a house of mirrors, in every direction you’ll see a reflection of you staring back at you. When someone is obsessed with themselves to the point he or she sees nothing else, they will be desperate for attention in every discussion. This false sense of superiority always creates a comparison with others and you’ll end up the undisputed winner in all arguments.
Remember to shatter the mirror of egotism and embrace others as your equal. The true spirit of living lies in humility, appreciation, and forgiveness.
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