The ego is a huge entity that lives within us, controls us and pretends to be us.
Realizing this transformative truth is the first step towards consciously destroying our ego.
It might seem like an easy task at first, as each defines the ego in a different way. Some claim the ego is only about greed, therefore if we stop being greedy, we have successfully diminished our ego. Others link the ego to being dramatic or solely negative, so putting on a happy face would be a way to put down the ego.
However, just when we think we have come a long way, something will happen that will trigger our ego again. Only when the ego resurfaces, we realize that we did not destroy it, but that is was there all along, dormant.
Below are ten signs that show that not we, but our ego is still in control.
1. The urge to prove ourselves right.
When we engage in arguments, the ego continually has the urge to speak and prove others wrong.
One of the symptoms is an uncontrollable impatience when someone else is talking. Our pulse rises and we are eager to interrupt the other person. Making the other person feel he has lost an argument, gives our ego immense pleasure; most of the time we don’t stop until we reach that stage of satisfaction.
2. Not accepting criticism.
We live in a world where we are more likely to be criticized than complimented.
Someone might criticize our lifestyle, our habits, our body or even our way of talking. The ego instantly surfaces when we hear something that threatens our self-image.
As a defense, we subconsciously judge the other to be ignorant and unaware.
This might seem like a normal habit when in fact it is one of the ego’s sneaky traits.
The ego is in a constant rush. And though the universe tells us to slow down in many mysterious ways, we remain impatient in our endeavors. Inside each of us lies the voice of reason. Despite the fact that it is quite loud, we deliberately choose to ignore it and go ahead with what the ego is whispering.
4. Being dramatic.
The other day a friend of mine told me something which I find very true: “It’s sad how people always think that drama is what makes our life story. Everyone has a story to tell, why can’t it be a happy one?”
Our ego adores drama and just like my friend said, if we don’t have something hideous or depressing to tell, we consider our story insignificant.
One morning, the favorite cup we’ve been drinking from for the past six years might fall and break into pieces. We can get another cup, finish our tea peacefully and enjoy the change. Or we can curse our luck and lament the loss. The ego goes for choice number two.
5. Talking about ourselves at the wrong time.
Haven’t we all experienced, at least once in our life, that when a friend with a problem opens up to us and starts pouring out his heart, we project the problem onto our own and end up telling our story instead of listening to our friend? Notice the first thing we say upon hearing about someone else’s issues: “The same happened to me!”
We subconsciously think we are helping by telling we were in that same situation before. But the truth is that our ego is tricking us into becoming a victim with a problem again.
The best thing to do in such cases, is go light on our own words. We should pause for a moment before going on about our own problem. We should try to forget about telling our story and instead listen to the other person’s story and give them some direct advice.
6. Holding grudges against someone.
Life is a series of disappointments; it is a fact which we can’t ignore. Not everyone is kind to us and not everyone treated us the way we deserve. Yet, forgiving those who did that to us is a solid test to see if our ego is actually still in control.
Sometimes we think that we have reached a stage of utter peace with everyone. But in time, an event, often a disappointment of some kind, will happen and to pinch us awake to prove us wrong.
The ego loathes forgiveness. It can’t take being rejected, ignored, unloved, disrespected or taken for granted. Therefore we hold grudges and turn a deaf ear to the voice of reason which is saying out loud: “forgive.”
7. Thinking we’re omniscient.
“The wise speaks less” is an aphorism I highly believe in. If we think we’re knowledgeable and publicly claim it, we most likely are not. No one is a know-it-all. No matter how much experience we have or how many books we read, it is highly unlikely we will ever reach the stage of exaltation.
The ego despises humbleness. Therefore believing that we are all born the same is a hazardous threat to the ego’s identity.
8. Competing to be the best.
This problem has serious effects on mankind. It has driven people away from their real goals and their real dreams. Sometimes our dream is different than our friend’s, a family member’s or even a celebrity’s! But we are unaware that our ego has the urge to compete with other people’s careers and dreams.
As a result we end up doing something we don’t really like just because we think that our true goal is inferior in other people’s eyes.
9. Blaming others.
Imagine a world in which people admit where they went wrong. How beautiful would that world be?
Our ego hates to take responsibility for any of its wrongdoings. Hence we put the blame on others and convince ourselves that we are absolutely right.
10. Thinking we are not good enough.
Everyone’s personality and character is a mixture of positive and negative traits.
I can wake up one day, look into the mirror and say that I’m kind, good to others, a good friend, thoughtful and generous. While the next day I feel I’m unstable, stubborn, selfish, not good enough and not trustworthy.
The ego would definitely not emphasize the benign traits. Again, it needs a story to tell, and in order to tell that story it needs proof to support its statement. Thinking we are not good enough is an excuse that our ego creates to stop us from thriving in our life. It prevents us from going forwards; its main aim is to keep us where we are.
Despite being an enormous entity, the ego can be very sneaky. It takes time to deal with it and acknowledge it. Only once we are aware of its destructive patterns, do we stop procrastinating improvement.
The first step is recognizing its ruthlessness, the second is paying attention to when it arises and third is willing to no longer succumb to its powers.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Elyane Youssef
Apprentice Editor: Yaisa Nio / Editor: Catherine Monkman