When we hear the word ego, it conjures up an image of a “wideo” with a fast car and a swagger who really loves them-self. I don’t mean they love them-self in a positive, self-acceptance inner harmony kind of way. More like an arrogant Kanye West style, ‘if-I-was –chocolate-I-would-eat-my-self,’ scenario. Not very appealing!
You are probably reading this thinking, “I don’t have an ego, my head fits out the door just fine thanks.” Actually from a yogic perspective, everyone has an ego. You ego is your own preserved self image. Who do you think you are? Any time you think about how others view you, that is you identifying with your ego.
In such an individualistic culture are ours, it’s complicated. We are conditioned from birth to develop “ A strong sense of self”. It is important to know you know who you are and what you stand for but ironically, the ability to detach from this is the key to happiness. Egos have driven many great people to do great things, in many cases the ego is the source of our ambition and drive. However, the ego is also the cause of feelings of Un-fulfilment, self-criticism, insecurity and disconnection. Too much identification with the ego is destructive and can control and limit our entire lives.
Jim Carrey “If you listen to the ego, there will always be someone doing better than you. No matter what you gain, the ego will not let you rest. “
How to let go of the ego:
Mindfulness: Learn to be in the moment. Learn to just be. Take time to let go of analysis of your past and plans for your future. Remember that the ego is a construct of the mind. Directing your attention away from your thoughts to your feelings, or your breath, helps you to detach form your ego as well.
Awareness: Be aware that you have an ego and be aware when you are connecting with it. Just that realisation that the perception you have of yourself is not the ultimate truth of who you are, is liberation. Know that too much focus on your “image” is destructive. You have a higher self which cherishes contentedness with others and is less concerned with individual goals, successes or failures.
Forgiveness: Learn to forgive others and forgive yourself. Your ego creates a huge amount of judgement to both you and those around you. The ego entices us to dwell on this, thus empowering it’s to dominate our consciousness. If someone does something to hurt or annoy you, remember they are not perfect and they don’t need to be. When you make mistakes, remember you are not perfect and you don’t need to be either. If you learn to instinctively forgive, then you will not be empowering your ego to take over.
Finding your passion: Do things you love going, that ignite you and allow you to “lose yourself” completely. Listen to music you love, spend time in places with great natural beauty and find ways of be creative. What can you do that you get so absorbed in that the clock hands just seem to whizz round and round?
Yoga and mediation: Had to get it in there! These practices cultivate all of the above.
Overall, remember that you are many things. You are many different things to different people. You are always changing and so is everyone else. Life is as a journey, and all of our journeys are different. You are in a perpetual state of change and growth. Who you were yesterday is not the person you are today or will be tomorrow and you do not always need to label and define everything.
When ego is lost, limit is lost. You become infinite, kind and beautiful.” — Yogi Bhajan