The ego, simply put, is our expressed self.
Our expressed self may not always be aligned with our true self, or our Truth as we refer to it in the GRIT®model. Sometimes our ego may feel an unnecessary need to protect us, and that’s typically when our ego gets in the way.
How do you know when your ego interferes with your Truth? Here are a few signs that could mean your ego is in the way:
Do you constantly compare yourself to others, rather than focus on being the best “you” and being happy?
If someone else is getting attention, do you redirect the attention to yourself? (I was recently sharing about my grandson and the person I was talking to actually said how good he was at the same task. It took me off guard at first, but then I realized, he was redirecting the attention to himself.)
Are you frequently on the defense, feeling like you’ve got to protect and defend your ideas, your reasoning, your decisions, maybe even your life?
Do you find yourself making sure everyone knows how funny you are, how smart you are, how cool you are, or bragging about your inventions, accomplishments, ideas, friends?
Do you secretly think you’re smarter and can control the situation, perhaps you’re a master at manipulating the scene?
Does it seem like others don’t recognize your value enough, so you have to speak up and even demand the recognition and appreciation, maybe to the point where you feel like you have to in most areas of your life?
Do you feel jealous and envious when other people succeed, rather than inspired and happy for them?
Do you think of everyone else when you read these and you haven’t considered that you might be guilty of one or two of these at times?
Our ego has an interesting impact on our perception of our truth, causing us sometimes to feel too self-assured. For example, you might think you already know something, you attach to that, and then it’s very difficult to remain open to other possibilities. This has been a tough one for me, and the stubbornness of holding on didn’t serve me well in the past.
Our ego can also cause us to not feel assured enough. In this case, you might keep second-guessing yourself, or maybe you over-protect yourself. I remember feeling this way when I was a young female on an all-male more senior team. During casual conversation, if my peer said I was wrong with a fact, whether it was song lyrics or some other trivia, I would second guess myself and think maybe I didn't know. I would too easily back away from it, saying “maybe I’m not right on that” rather than say something like “I’m fairly certain, let’s check it.”
Ego can end up disguised as disrespect or some other counterproductive behavior. Most people don’t even realize when their ego kicks in to defend them, and people on the receiving end usually perceive it as mean-hearted, condescending, self-centered, and, yes, egotistical!
Similar to what motivates people to lie, the ego is being manipulated by that same four-letter F-word—fear! These fears can put the ego in overdrive. Our expressed self can be miles apart from our Truth.
Emotions can trigger awareness, giving us the opportunity to explore what’s driving our actions. Fear is useful, and we shouldn’t deny or ignore it. We can put fear in its place—respect it—and be thankful for the awareness.
We can tell our ego to relax - we don’t need you right now. Then we can focus on more productive behaviors.
If we acknowledge our ego is there and admit what it might be doing, we can prevent it from getting in the way of our truth.He who is in the thickest fog blows his own horn. —Anonymous