Recently I wrote this article for an awesome website called lifehack.org.
“We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”
― Carlos Castaneda
The ego, as Juan Matus describes it, is a dragon with one thousand heads. It is a destructive, blinding creature that forces us to believe that we are what we are, only in comparison with others. We spend energy believing this fiction, energy we could be using to enjoy life. What do you have to do to cut the heads of this dragon, overcome your ego, and claim your power back?
1. Define your motivation
What drives you to take on a challenge? Most of us, most of the time, are excited to explore, learn, and sense. As we seek a source of motivation in life we will encounter an antagonistic fight between our higher self and our ego. The ego will force us to be motivated by what we achieve and conquer, whereas our higher self wants us to learn, experience, and live. The big difference between learning-based motivation and accomplishing-based motivation is that failing to accomplish leads to a crisis of self-worth. A learning-based motivation is the best way to overcome your ego and your unreliable accomplishment-based motivation. We can always learn even when we don’t succeed!
2. Focus on the process
Life is a process, not a trophy case. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” When we start acknowledging life and its true essence we will realize that what really matters is what we experience during life and not its outcomes. In the process of life we find all the beautiful and unforgettable experiences. We find all the laughter, tears, kisses and troubles. We find our real passions, interests, and worries. In the process of life we find all that really makes life meaningful and magical. Our ego will automatically make us absorb an attitude where all we want is to arrive somewhere and achieve something. Our ego does not care about the process as long as it achieves and feels superior. If we follow our ego, we will never enjoy the present moment and all the adventures we can be part of. If we don’t arrive somewhere or achieve something, our ego will make us feel useless, demotivated and purposeless. Overcome your ego so you can enjoy the now, focus on the process.
3. Don’t compare yourself to others
Your ego will always compare yourself with other people. That is its main source of power, the power that we want to claim back. When we compare our achievements and past performance with our present, sometimes we fall short. Sometimes we won’t succeed at something we had previously done or someone else has done. Our ego will punish us and make us fell inferior and useless. Our self worth will be affected and we won’t have a stable source of confidence. If we succeed and overcome others, our ego will make us believe we are superior and invincible, something which is certainly an illusion. Our self worth is totally subjective and should never be compared to others. This is what the ego wants to hide from us. We all have a value which is unmeasurable and unredeemable. Not comparing ourselves does not mean that we will keep a mediocre mentality with no goals. Not comparing ourselves means that we focus on becoming conscious about ourselves, destroying our unconscious habits and really knowing what we are made of.
4. Forget the habitual system
We are all part of a system, a big dominating system. But more specifically, we are part of a reward/punishment system, or as I like to call it, the win-or-lose mindset. Since we were little babies, we have been always punished when we make mistakes. This continued into school, high school, university, work and probably even death. Heaven or hell, reward or punishment? This system is just a way of feeding our ego and completely destroying our capacity to value ourselves. Our ego will make us feel superior if we win and we will always expect a reward from our successes. If we lose and fail, our ego will crush us down and make us feel like an ant in Manhattan. Forget this system and start noticing that we are not circus animals who need a reward to feel valuable and a punishment to learn. We are independent beings, fully conscious and aware. We learn through experience. The only real reward we should look for is the knowledge and power we acquire throughout our lives.
5. Stop the boastful talk
Occasionally we mention our achievements, adventures and goals in conversation. Certainly it is a good icebreaker or conversation material but if we want to have dragon meat for dinner we will have to reshape the way we talk. As we talk with someone, our ego will automatically measure itself with this someone. As this happens we will start naming places we went, things we achieved, things we have, stuff we have done, and so on. The ego will fill all the missing spaces in our talk with personal material, material that obviously does the job to make us valuable and hopefully awesome and superior. We are awesome and valuable without the need of telling everybody our achievements, posting on Facebook, or replying to someone´s brag with our own glorifying speech. By acknowledging that our achievements are ours, we will notice that what other do does not really matter. We will obtain personal power and become independent from our ego and the different opinions about us!