What is EGO really?


Published: 24 Feb 2019


Your ego diminishes every time you become aware of it – for good or bad reasons.

Your ego is your biggest battle in life – justification, validation, being right, being heard, engaging when you don’t need to, moralisation, judgement, reacting in anger, impatience.

These are all just a shortcut that your brain chooses to use rather than see someone else’s point of view. This shortcut makes you run on A.P.E. (assumption, perception, ego). Otherwise known as the three killers of communication.

Ego wants to control everything in your life, every word, every deed, every action –what it cannot control is other people! So all you can do is focus on you, and how you respond and react to others.

Here are some tips to keep your ego in check:

  1. Let things go when you can. You don’t HAVE to react to everything, have a say about everything. Use your energy wisely. Have patience.
  2. Be honest with yourself, see your part in things and how they unfold. Be honest with others in the most compassionate way you can.
  3. Surrender the need to be right, or in control.
  4. Be still. Enjoy peaceful moments with yourself. Embrace the downtime.
  5. Give without any expectation, praise or recognition required – anything else is martyrdom, conditional love, or ego.
  6. Be grateful for the big and small things. Show appreciation to people you interact with along your day.
  7. Choose kindness and love – anything else is fear, illusion or ego.
  8. Don’t complain – it’s self-sabotaging and brings the vibrational energy down of yourself and anyone who has to listen to you.
  9. If you find yourself in a hole – stop digging! The wounded ego is the worst type and will always be destructive. Know when to apologise, stop – admit you were wrong with grace.
  10. Hatred and vendettas are like an unhealed sore, like acid eating away at your being. It always damages you first, and more.
  11. Pursue brilliance and mastery at your craft – and then, stay humble about it without hype or vanity. Make it about the work and how you help people….not you!
  12. Tibetan Buddhists have a term ‘Spiritual Warrier’. One who combats the universal enemy self-ignorance – which is the ultimate source of suffering! Work on you and being a better person.
  13. Seek first to understand and then to be understood. Not everything is about you!

When you strip away everything holding you back, you’ll surprise yourself. Most of the time you are living in an illusion run by your ego. You can set yourself free so that you have: more loving relationships, fulfilling work, less resistance to things people say and do to you.

If you consciously looked for how many times a day when you could honestly say that was your ego talking you would be mortified. Try it – just one day thinking about these 13 things, and see what you find out about yourself.

Here are some more ways ego manifests itself:

People who chew through your time – hover at your desk, in your peripheral vision, waste your time, and waffle on instead of getting to the point in meetings, turn up late for meetings and then take over.  This happens for people mostly at work,  or in community organisations they are in, but it can happen in personal relationships too.

There are multiple reasons this could be happening: – but the most likely:

  • Their ego is in play, they like to give you the longest version ever because their opinion is important.
  • They are a ‘social office goblin’ – the person who is constantly showing funny/inappropriate memes and anything else that will detract from doing actual work.
  • There is no rule or system or format. No boundaries have been set.
  • They are playing the ‘busy’ card as a badge of honour.

Use these 3 body language tips to get egomaniacs back on track quickly:

  • ‘Back to business’ hands –  by using (inwards cupped hands 2 or 3 times). If you can say something like “let’s re-focus/back on task (and put their name on the end)”.
  • Use a soft hand (what I call the slow unfurl) from your middle out to the person showing your palm symbolising not now/stop.
  • Direct your hand with a flat palm towards the person who had the floor before they were interrupted by a late comer and say something like “back to you Dave”.

People who talk over people – we all know that person. The person who talks over you. Is merely waiting for their time to talk instead of focusing on what you’re saying. Whatever you say they have their own opinion on it.

So how do you deal with that? First of all – try to figure out what their motivation is for behaving in this manner? Have they always been like that? Are they like it with other people, or just you? Once you have a handle on the motivation it should lead you to how you could deal with it.

In live events when I ask the audience “Who among you is a talker over?” invariably at least 3-4 people put their hands up. When asked what their motivation is the answers include: “I get excited and just want to put my point across.” “I usually have the answer.” Not pretty, either option – and imagine how that feels to be on the other end of that? That isn’t human interaction, inclusive. That, is merely them using you as an audience!

Know-it-all’s sometimes have jealously as their motivation, and over competitiveness kicks in as they feel the need to prove themselves. There is no pleasure in a conversation with someone like this. You end up walking away feeling unheard, and under-valued. In addition, you just lost precious time to this person!

So where to start? Well, if you can, cut them off early. You can do this in two ways. The first is by asking lots of questions. This stops the ‘story’ and makes them focus on the facts, hopefully without embellishment. So, if, for example they start off on a story you know will be long winded, interject with questions to try and stop the flow.

The other option is to use body language, this could be in the form of a soft upwards hand to symbolise ‘stop’, then you could put your point forward at that point. In essence, you are re-training this person to be a more considerate conversationalist. If it doesn’t work, then you have a decision to make. If it’s a person you don’t need to have in your life, then think about that – reducing or stopping contact. If it’s your boss – use questions that make him or her accountable, check the priorities, and clarify what has been said in a long string of information. If it’s a friend, then you may need to have a courageous conversation and ask straight up why they treat you like that? If they are truly a friend they will acknowledge their behaviour.

People who undermine people – Almost everyone has had someone in their life at some point who seems to take pleasure in undermining them, and often it’s the people who are meant to, or profess to love and admire you the most!.

So how can you tell for sure if you’re being undermined? The easiest way, is to recognise when you have received the incoming ’emotional ping’. The ping hurts – it’s meant to. If you feel affronted, embarrassed, ridiculed, annoyed –  then you’ve probably been pinged.

Undermining can sound like a ‘back handed’ compliment – essentially an insult disguised as a compliment. It can take the form of of belittling you (especially in front of others that are important to you), or condescending behaviour which can come across as superiority, or patronising. It can feel like exclusion, under-miners leave you out intentionally to push your buttons.

Under-miners are competitive, and will sabotage you if they can to make you look bad, so they look more impressive. They will not always stop at that, and will be quite happy to take credit for the things you have done, or diminish or ignore the things you have done well. You may hear comments like, “Well, you did it, congratulations, I didn’t think you would, you usually miss deadlines.” They will overstep the natural order of things and will ingratiate themselves with people with an aim to get the better of you.

So what can you do? Remember at all times that these people survive and thrive because NO ONE challenges them. The minute they are challenged all bets are off. They are accountable. They have to explain themselves. They have to justify why they are being intentionally mean and undermining….and they don’t like it. It hurts. It pings them back. Ask a question rather than let them get away with it.

Want to learn more about body language?  There are two brilliant e-books in the shop: