I confess, sometimes that head swims in the clouds and I prance about quite happy and headless. Doesn’t even take much for the head to go loose, a little success, a few possessions, some consistent compliments, and there it flies away to glory, on its own trip to what mostly turns out to be disaster.
So much is written about boosting self confidence, but what happens when you go overboard, when you start valuing yourself a bit too much and the confidence goes into overdrive, giving way to that big ugly ego. That’s the thing about ego, it’s never small, and it’s never pretty. It eats away at every single aspect of our lives. The enemy you sleep with until, well, until no one really wants to sleep with you, or work with you, or have anything to do with you.
We don’t even realize when it happens, when we become that egoist who cannot bear to be wrong. Who always listens to the boss while going oh shut up in the head. Who waits days for that sorry to come from the partner (while pretty much dying inside). Who stops talking to friends altogether because they pointed out a mistake. Who doesn’t want to even associate with those bunch of not my class people and who contemplates murder if anyone cracks a joke at their expense.
How can you not be a person you don’t even realize you have become? How do you kill that ego before it kills who you really are? Well, here are a few tough ways (I wanted to write easy but that’s just lying!).
Don’t just be honest with yourself, be brutal.
It’s like that out of body experience people talk about. Once in a while, float out, hover over yourself, and critically analyze the person you see (you know, the way you analyze that particularly irritating person in your team right before appraisal time). Pretend you are your colleague or spouse or friend and evaluate what this person is to them – the good, the bad, and the really ugly.
Be objective, use a sheet of paper if you have to (yes pretty silly, ensure you are alone while conducting such nerdy activities). A little objective analysis and you will see that ego dissipate. The by product is a clearer life path (and probably the need to get drunk depending on how ugly the ugly is).
Make fun of your own silliness.
You can’t be so awesome that you have no attribute worth laughing at (your friends from college could give you at least 10 in less than a minute). Every day, spend a few moments laughing at yourself (OK, make it once a week if the idea is too mortifying to begin with).
A little joke on something silly, a genuine joke, not one of those smartly crafted lines that are meant to sound like self deprecation but actually stink of self appreciation. So if you are stick thin and crack jokes on your apparently increasing weight which is invisible to the naked eye, please, for the love of God, just stop (before Karma comes calling, and by Karma i mean 20 pounds).
The thing about genuinely laughing at yourself is that not only does it keep that ego away, it also makes you more endearing to others. Besides, it is the best kind of humor. If you are the butt of your own joke, no one can get offended!
Sometimes, when you realize you are wrong, say it out loud.
We all have those moments in arguments or discussions when we realize that we are completely and ridiculously wrong. We still continue supporting our point with all kinds of baloney. That’s not a bad thing, if we accept ALL the mistakes we actually make, we will come across as pushovers who are not to be taken seriously. Sometimes though, you can make an exception and just accept it.
“OK yes, I think you are right, my bad” – it’s a magical thing to say out loud. Helps your head float down to mother earth and makes the other person respect you more for your honesty. Saying it out loud helps you realize that you really are wrong, that you can be wrong, that you are not the most ‘right’ person in the history of human existence.
You may be going ‘Oh I’m not that person anyway’, but if you were to check with your spouse/friend/colleague whether you have been that person, the answer may be very surprising (and very irritating).
Attempt things you know you are not good at.
Most of us don’t want to spend time doing such things. Remaining within the familiar helps us get a higher success rate which keeps our self esteem and social image intact. That can be a good policy to follow most of the time, but not always. If we never ever fail, our exaggerated sense of self will go on expanding. Of course it also means that we never learn new stuff which is downright boring.
So bake that cake and leave the windows open for when it burns. Take on a new project at work and accept the fact that you will not be awesome in the first month (by the second month kindly do get awesome, experimentation is fine but you need to keep that job). New things and new failures equal less ego and more growth.
Remember the person you have been.
If your past is spotted with times that you would rather forget, remember them. The algebra paper you flunked, that one time you tripped on stage, the first job interview you ruined or that first date when your fly was open the whole time. Don’t think of it often, but once in a while, think about the times when you were a lesser person than you are now. Remember that older version, so that the newer version remains balanced. Recollecting past errors not only keeps Mr. Ego in check, it also prevents you from repeating those mistakes.
To be honest, while I may be writing this piece, I’am no expert at managing my own ego (if you are a friend of mine, kindly stop that rigorous nod of agreement before your head falls off). It is extremely difficult to follow these deceptively simple rules, to remain grounded and true to who you are.
Developing an ego is as easy as gaining weight and letting it go is as painful as shedding those extra pounds. Nonetheless, this is the diet for a healthy mind, needed for a happy soul. So while I realize I may have served up broccoli in the above few points, all I can say is ‘Eat Up, folks!’
Featured photo credit: Spirit Science & Metaphysic via spiritscienceandmetaphysics.com