There is a common misconception about the ego. We believe that people with large egos are extroverted, confident, decisive, pushy, arrogant and often successful. Growing up as an introvert, I never considered I was driven by ego. I was shy and lacking confidence. There was never any concern that my ego was in control.
I first discovered I was controlled by ego while reading the book ‘A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose’ by Eckhart Tolle. The ego is not a condition exclusive to extroverted and confident people. It lurks unconscious within all of us. It invisibly controls our thoughts, beliefs, actions and ultimately the blueprint of our lives. Becoming aware of ego made me conscious of the control it had on my thinking and behaviours.
Eckhart Tolle defines the ego as:
‘the ongoing and relentless stream of involuntary thoughts, combined with the emotions that accompany the thoughts’. Eckhart Tolle
It is hard to understand this definition until you stop and take notice of the thoughts that filter through your mind throughout the day. I spent two days consciously noticing my thoughts. It was a shock. Until then I had no idea how judgemental I was towards myself, others and situations.
Eckhart Tolle further explains what it means when your ego is in control.
‘it is believing we are our thoughts, and that our thoughts are the absolute truth’Eckhart Tolle
The problem with humanity is not that we have ego’s, it is that we identify with our ego’s and believe that they tell us the absolute truth.
Once we accept that we have an ego, we can then begin the process of noticing it, and questioning what it is telling us.
We can never get rid of our ego. Until the day we die it will fill our mind with thoughts. It becomes a problem when we are unconscious of it. I recorded this list of 15 common ego traits by listening and analysing what my ego was telling me. By revealing these thinking patterns, I am hoping to help others identify when their ego is in control.
You Gossip Frequently
You discuss other people and judge their behaviour as good or bad
You have trouble letting go when you feel wronged
You hold onto a past grievance because you need acknowldgement that you were wronged. You often replay the story verbally or in your thoughts
You Compare yourself to others
Your self-worth is determined by how you imagine others perceive you
You feel jealous of other people
You fake being happy when someone else is successful
You blame other people or outside circumstances when things go wrong
You make excuses for mistakes and have trouble taking responsibility for your involvement in problems.
Complain about situations and people
By complaining you make a situation or person wrong and yourself right
You are unable to let go of something that happened in the past
You are unable to accept and move forward from a past mistake or trauma
You focus on a future event that will bring happiness
You make an enemy out of the present moment by believing that you will be happy when a future event comes to fruition
You believe there is never enough of something
You fear you will not be provided with what you need, such as money or love
You feel anxiety, stress, restlessness, boredom and unease
You have trouble feeling calm because you are constantly thinking and worrying
You feel unfulfilled and search for the next thing that will make you feel good
When you acquire something new you feel great. However, before long that feeling of satisfaction is replaced with more wanting.
You enhance your sense of self through external things
To strengthen your self-worth, you fill your life with activities, money, objects, acquaintances or work.
You make yourself a victim or a hero
Victim role: avoid responsibility, gain sympathy and manipulate others. Hero role: gain appreciation, fuel self-worth, manipulate others
You are absorbed in yourself
You use the word I a lot (or me, mine, my)
Your identity is entwined with roles and labels
Your sense of self is affected by roles you play (such as I am important because I am a manager), or labels you identify with (I am fat and therefore not lovable). Your identity would be shaken if one of these were taken away
For more information on the ego, follow this link to purchase Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth.