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Letting Go of That Ego Before It Gets Hold of You

Letting Go of That Ego Before It Gets Hold of You

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!).

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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).

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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).

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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.

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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

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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The power of habit

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to make a reminder works for you

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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