While the definition of ‘ego’ can vary a little from source to source, the Latin origin of ‘ego’ means ‘I’. From this, we can try to figure out the ego as it relates to questions like:
Who am I?
What am I like?
How do others perceive me?
Our perception of ourselves as we relate to these things is thought of as our ego. Now, some people have a well-developed, healthy sense of ego. Such people are confident and assured in their dealings with themselves and others, and this is how most would like to present themselves and to be perceived by others.
It also happens that many suffer from an unhealthy ego. They perceive themselves to be less than others, less smart, less able, or less cool. It’s fair to say they we have all come across people of both categories and we have likely fallen into both categories ourselves at some point in our lives. Is there a balance to be struck?
“What do others think of me?” This question is important because our perception of what others think can often come to form our mental impression of ourselves. It may be that a person believes that everybody else thinks they are wonderful, or maybe they think the opposite. If that’s the case, then external influences (perceived or real) run the risk of becoming our internal monologue.
Do any of these sound familiar: “I did a bad job,” “I’m not smart enough,” or “I’m not pretty enough?” It can become an obsession, and though deep down we tell ourselves that “this is not me,” the voice will persist.
In truth, these are merely perceptions that need to be altered. It is these elements of the ego that need to be starved.
Here are five ways to starve the ego:
1. Listen to your ego.
Nowadays, we don’t stop for many things, not properly. From the minute we awaken, our lives are filled with constant demands, sounds and sensations of alarm clocks, ringtones, beeps, vibrations, televisions, traffic and so on.
Find twenty minutes to sit in quiet, with no demands. If you can find a few minutes to stop and calm your mind, you may hear the truth your inner voice speaks and begin to figure out what it is trying to tell you.
2. Fill your space with something positive.
We all have at least some happy memories: good days, good weeks and good years; good times with good friends, times when nothing could go wrong. Bring them into focus with photographs of your good friends, or of good times spent with people you love. Fill your living and work spaces with images and souvenirs that showcase happy times, so your energy is spent in positive space.
3. Do something for charity.
There is nothing that feeds the soul more than doing something for others who genuinely need our help. Fortunately or unfortunately, in today’s world we don’t have to look far for reminders of how good we have it in comparison to others. Clean out your closet, donate clothes or visit with an elderly neighbour in order to give to someone else so you don’t fixate so much on yourself.
4. Change the company you keep.
It’s pretty common knowledge that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. What mental picture does that create?
Here are a few interesting historical friendships:
Henry Ford and Thomas Edison
Marilyn Monroe and Ella Fitzgerald
Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
And more recently:
George Clooney and Brad Pitt
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler
What have they all got in common? They were or still are friends. Which means they discuss ideas, inspire and cheer each other on, and most importantly, are honest with each other. Can you say the same for your friends and colleagues? Do they genuinely want to hear what you have to say? It may be time to make a change if this is not the case in your current friendships.
5. Create a legacy.
If you had a week to live, what would you want to leave behind? How will people remember you? Is it a painting or a poem, a book or a short story; or will it be a bunch of payslips from your job?
Write the story you want others to read; don’t let your surrounding circumstances create it. Find the thing that lights your soul and establish a legacy around it, so people remember you in a way that will continue to inspire.
Everyone has a mental image of themselves. And that picture can change based on what is happening around them.
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The important thing to remember is our internal monologue, our ego, isn’t always painting an accurate view. It’s up to us to listen to it, question it and then change the voice in our head, so it serves us in the best way possible.