I have been pondering on the nature of our ego lately and how it gets in our way.
What IS an ego anyway? There are so many definitions and it’s one of those words that is open up to endless discussion.
Here’s one definition of ego:
“A person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance”.
In a more spiritual context, here is ego as defined by Deepak Chopra:
“The ego is our self-image, not our true self. It is characterized by labels, masks, images, and judgments.”
And perhaps, most succinctly, the ego can be defined as “our small self”.
None of us wants to be “our small self”, do we? Yet we are frequently slaves to our ego, despite the pain this causes us.
I found myself being a slave to my own ego the other week. A couple of things happened and my ego kicked into play:
This is what my ego thought about the lack of response:
“There’s obviously something about you that has made her change her mind. You’re not important/good/professional enough. . maybe she actually just doesn’t like you. Yeah that’s it.. there’s something wrong with you.”
Actually, it’s just plain rudeness, but my ego is paranoid enough to think it must be about ME. Because that’s what the ego always thinks!
So my ego was properly p***d off about this. It chattered and chattered away…
“Don’t they know who you are and what you’ve done in this area?”
“Why haven’t they invited you? They DO know the expertise you have in this area. Of course they do. What’s going on?”
At this point the ego stamps its little feet and pouts and feels properly sorry for itself!
Our small selves HATE being left out, don’t they? They really like to be taken SERIOUSLY, because they are so very, VERY important.
They make up stories – completely fantastical, far-fetched stories which always have bad endings. They embellish those stories with all sorts of monsters.
But I know how to tell that ego to be quiet. I know how to calm that small self and reassure it that it is safe. Sometimes I forget, but as soon as I remember, it works a dream.
Two Presidents were sitting in an office engaged in a meeting. Suddenly, in bursts a woman, apoplectic with fury. She is swearing, she’s gesticulating, she’s absolutely furious, complaining to the Home President:
“Look what these people have done now. I don’t believe this. Don’t they realise what this means?!”
“Suzanne,” says the home President to the woman after she has ranted for a while. “Please calm yourself, and remember Rule #6.”
Instantly, Suzanne is calm. She smiles, her shoulders drop, she walks out of the office a different woman.
Ten minutes later, a man walks in, red in the face, obviously agitated, frowning. He’s really, really angry.
Again, the President waits until the man has said his piece, then he says quietly but firmly to the man: “Carl, please. Be calm and remember Rule #6.”
And again, the same effect. Carl, just as Suzanne did earlier, instantly looks more relaxed. The frown disappears, he smiles and walks out of the office as a much calmer Carl.
At the end of the meeting, the visiting President says,
“Tell me, it was extraordinary, when those people came in. They were so stressed. You mentioned this Rule #6 and the effect on them was instant. What is this Rule #6 you said to them that changed them?”
The home President said to his guest,
“Ah. Simple. Rule #6 is this: DON’T TAKE YOURSELF SO DARNED SERIOUSLY.”
“Ah, that is a fine rule,” said the visiting President. “Tell me, what are the other rules?”
“The other rules? There aren’t any.” 🙂
When you find your small self, your ego getting noisy, the surefire way to calm yourself down is to remember Rule #6: Don’t take yourself so darned seriously!