What you can learn from listening to your ego

Are you surprised how you react to things sometimes? Aine argues it can be related to how you view yourself.

Written by Aine Ahern


Wherever Egos, I go

I was driving home the other day when I tuned into a conversation on the radio. One radio presenter seemed to be defending a celebrity by saying “He’s a nice guy, he’s just got a pretty big ego”. “Ego” I uttered to myself, something I’ll never quite fully comprehend. So, in Áine fashion, I googled the sh*t out of “ego” and discovered some pretty surprising facts.

What I didn’t realise was just how complex it was and how your ego is more so an accumulation of things rather than just one thing. In fact, the “ego” is who you think you are as opposed to who you actually are (a.k.a your true self). It’s the story we tell ourselves, about ourselves (despite never having studied journalism). And we wonder why we throw ourselves such complicated plot twists… But to simplify things a bit, here’s what my ego says:

“I am a social butterfly but if it involves parallel parking, don’t invite me”

“I am a thinker, but not an enforcer”

“I am a sporty person, but I am not very athletic”

“I am kind, but more often than not, too sensitive”.

Notice any common trend in the story I’m telling myself? With every positive affirmation I’m hitting myself with a negative one in order to balance my story. But why am I doing that? I’m the main character, surely, I can make things a little easier for myself? I mean, is it too much to ask to be both sporty and athletic at the same time? Or is it because I truly believe I can’t be both? Whatever the case, I want to challenge my ego and I hope after reading this, you do too.

You see for years the “ego” has been negatively perceived, almost like the “big bad wolf” that resides in all of us, completely rent free. But what would happen if you realised your wolf had two sides to her/him? On the one hand she’s brave, understanding, compassionate, tolerant, and accepting, whereas on the other hand she is mean, temperamental, jealous, and self- depreciating. But what if you could choose which wolf to feed? Would you identify the right one? Or would you even be aware of which one was in need of a good diet?

Answer me honestly, have you ever felt a bit surprised or disappointed by your own reaction to something? If the answer is yes then it’s likely your ego is more in control than you even realise. When I want to really understand my ego all I have to do is follow its trail, and it’s usually one of destruction. Similar to you not understanding why you reacted a certain way, people are also surprised to discover the ego isn’t just about arrogance or superiority. In fact, the ego can also feel inferior at the best of times which can be equally as destructive as feeling superior. Ultimately, your ego believes you are here, and in the now, whereas everyone else is over there. I don’t know about you but sometimes my ego wishes we were over “there”, wherever there may be.

So in order to be in control of our ego we need to be aware of the stories we are subconsciously telling ourselves time and time again. For some of us it will be a case of putting down the pencil and not being afraid to erase what’s already been written. For others, it will be bravely picking up the pencil once again. Things I have learned about my story so far: I am the only one in control of my story and therefore it’s okay to be protective over my pen, making edits isn’t a sign of weakness but a sign of growth, and finally, it’s okay to fall in and out of love with the main character, who doesn’t love a good page turner?

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