Deepak Chopra writes the following about ego:
“When the ego dominates, we assess where we stand, high or low, in any situation. We subtly put others in their place. Under the influence of grace, this behavior changes, because you genuinely feel no higher and no lower than anyone else. A tremendous relief accompanies this realization. So much energy is wasted protecting our dignity, status, pride, and accomplishments.”
Deepak read me to filth on this one. As a confident person, much of my self-talk includes a back-and-forth inner dialogue about my perception from others. It’s taken me most of my life to achieve personal and professional confidence, so I reject the idea that someone who appreciates their own skills and talent is arrogant by default. However, I think ego is a concept that transcends the binaries of “humble” and “arrogant;” rather than focusing on our own work, ego is more related to the way we compare ourselves with others, striving to maintain a level playing field with our peers.
I love Deepak’s mention of wasted energy. While I don’t identify as a jealous, petty, territorial, or possessive person, you better believe that I–and most of us–are still fully capable of experiencing moments of jealousy, pettiness, territorialness, and possessiveness. As Deepak mentions, it’s not doing us any favors, honey. The comparison game is physically and mentally draining, but even worse, the comparison game takes time–so much time. Time spent exerting negative energy. Do we have to go back to Spirituality 101 and remind ourselves that good things/people/ideas/opportunities don’t come to us when we are operating at a lower frequency?
It amazes me that sometimes, yes, we do take a quick dip into the petty pool, and we do know better, and we do need to check our ego at the door. You’ll know if you have a conflict rooted in ego issues if any of the following resonate with you:
Possessions: Am I jealous that a friend has the car, apartment, technology, etc. that I want? Do I refrain from complimenting them about their possessions because I’m upset I don’t have the same?
Partnerships: Am I annoyed that other couples seem to be thriving and externally in love, while my partner and I are working through a rough patch? Do I refrain from hanging out with other couples because I’m triggered by seeing a happy relationship?
Career: Am I upset that a friend or family member has the job I want, or perhaps the kind of job schedule, flexibility, or freedom I want? Do I make passive (or even active) digs at their work because I wish I could experience the same?
Love: Am I infuriated at the idea of a crush or an ex falling in love with a person who is not me? Do I find myself saddened by the prospect of their happiness? Do I find an unhealthy sense of pleasure knowing they need me in order to function?
Accomplishments: Am I disappointed if my friends, family, or colleagues aren’t aware of all my personal or professional achievements? Do I find a need to make my accomplishments relevant in conversation in order to validate my own insecurities?
^Yeah, this is a fucked up list of questions. If you felt a dramatic spike or drop in your energy when you read any question specifically, please remember and be aware of your body’s visceral reaction to a potential truth. The ego itself is so egotistical that when we get close to experiencing a moment of awakening, it will try to shut down the truth, perhaps by saying, “No, of course I want the best for my friend. What kind of monster would I be if I didn’t want the best for them?” Therein lies another problem: a refusal to realistically self-appraise your own baggage.
Have some real-talk with yourself and gently contemplate whether the root of your problems involves the “audacious” actions and behaviors of other people (which still might totally be true), or whether there’s a possibility that your ego has taken you hostage. I’m beginning to understand, for the first time in my life, that I have some seriously suppressed ego issues due to some significant life experiences from my past. Maybe you do, too, and if you do, I challenge you to own them and werq with them so spend no more precious time wasting energy. I wish us both luck!