by Ruqayyah Abowath*
In the field of Psychology Freud refers to the ego as the part of our personality that mediates between the demands of the ID (unconscious beliefs and desires), superego (our inner critic), and reality. In a modern day world we often hear the term “ego” as someone having a big or small ego. However, we do not often learn about the mental model of ego in relation to how it can hinder personal growth. In the context of personal growth and development the mechanism of ego can serve as a way to protect us from perceived danger. In some cases, it can form as a barrier holding us back from taking steps towards our dreams and positioning as a leader. This blog post will explore the practical and mind-set adjustments you can make offering 3 key steps to ensure you are fully in-check with your ego response & emotions to keep you on path with being your best self.
Firstly, let’s put ego into perspective…a creative has an incredible business idea, and they are really excited about it, but they don’t tell anyone because they fear that it won’t be liked or accepted. This is their ego in place. Perhaps that person was made to feel their ideas were not important early in life, and now that belief is stored into their ID, and their inner critic appears telling them “Don’t go for it” to keep them safe. This is just one example of how the ego can operate unconsciously.
Another important element to take into consideration is the link between ego and emotional responses. For example, an individual becomes promoted at work, and their co-worker felt that they should have been selected for the promotion, so they become attached to proving the boss wrong, and might even gossip to other colleagues how that person did not deserve the promotion. This emotional response is a reaction from the ego mind based on beliefs stored in the co-workers’ ID (unconscious belief from a past experience). This often happens because our minds react in default mode based on perceived danger of what we believe. For example, the belief of the co-worker may be “The teachers view my classmate as more superior than me which means I have to prove my worth.” Further on in life the co-worker is now acting in ways to prove themselves when external stimuli trigger that belief stored from childhood.
When we differentiate between ego response and logical thinking it becomes easier to make sense and take control of our actions. Ego is a natural mechanism in the mind which we cannot remove or change as it is part of our cognition that develops over a life-spam, but we do have the ability to work with our ego to rise above it and achieve a non-default outcome.
So now that we have explored ego in a career related capacity, the next question is how to re-wire your mind taking into consideration your ego mind to achieve success and become a leader? Here are 3 techniques you can incorporate to get ahead of the game:
1. Check in with your Intentions
Intentions in the space of personal development operate as a mantra or action of receptivity towards your desired vision or goal. Staying consistent with setting daily or weekly intentions helps you to remain on track and ensure your receptivity and behavioural reactions are in line with your visions, and also how you want to feel. For example, an intention could be “To be kind even when under pressure.” Setting intentions also serve as a way to ensure your emotional and behavioural responses are in flow with your goals. The more you follow through with the intentions you have set, the more empowered you will feel and position as the controller of your own experiences.
2. Practice Emotional Cleansing
Dr Joe Dispenza mentions “If we cannot think greater than how we feel, we can never change & to change is to act greater than the familiar feelings of the memorized self.” When we are stuck in thinking and behavioural patterns, our emotions fall into default mode. Then by default we may end up feeling negative emotions based on the thought patterns running through our minds by default. Thoughts reflect emotions, for example when you are thinking about a past event that made you feel hurt which you haven’t yet moved past, you may start to feel sad because your thoughts about that event inflict emotions of pain and sadness. Practicing emotional cleansing is about disconnecting from thoughts that create negative emotions and connecting to thoughts that reflect more uplifting positive emotions. Then, by default you will start to feel more in alignment with how you truly want to feel emotionally through changing your stream of thoughts.
3. Drop the Comparison Mind-Set and Nurture your Inner Critic
It is very common for humans to naturally judge and compare themselves to other people who appear more successful to them. Consequently, we end up tuning into our inner critic full mode, and overpower the voice of our authentic selves. One reason why we end up comparing our level of success to the accomplishment of others is because we judge ourselves from a place of lack, therefore judging becomes instinctual nature. Instead of focusing on the aspects you are unhappy with and comparing how this measures up to others, really become focused on the words and phrases you tell yourself. The best way to do this is dedicate one day to observe your inner critic, keep a journal, and write down what you are telling yourself. The more you can connect to the dialogue of your inner critic, the easier it becomes to notice when you are being unfair to yourself. With practice of nurturing your inner critic and self-judgement, you will notice the effect how comparing and judging other people is no longer your instinctual nature. From not judging yourself, you will then feel less urge to compare yourself to other people, and finally let yourself free to shine.
Concluding, ego is apparently a protective mechanism which cannot be drawn away and neither it must. Learning how to control it eventually we can transform our actions and consequently our life. The change is up to you and it’s only one decision away.