The ego is strange. It doesn’t live within us in a binary way. You can’t tell someone to do or not do something to eliminate their ego.
The ego lives in the moment. It requires understanding it every second.
One of my fears is one of judgment from others. That’s a form of protecting the ego. The irony is that I rationalize it as me not being egotistical because who do I think I am?
The ego can also let itself out when you do think too much of yourself. If you’re doing something for its attention of it, that is also a sign that you are letting your ego go too far.
” Ego is the enemy because it prevents us from learning, holds us back, and causes us to overreach.” - Ryan Holiday
Understand The Purpose Of The Ego
One reason we have an ego is for self-preservation. Why do people point fingers when they make a mistake? Your ego wants you to keep that image that you have held for yourself.
The ego wants stability in your life. It fears any moment that might cause you to question yourself.
The ego makes us feel better about ourselves when we are going through tough times. Maybe you have a dream in your life that you can’t let go of. The ego tells you that someday you will accomplish it.
The ego is entitlement.
The ego informs you that it will be okay, and that you don’t have to put the work in. It tells you that dilution that everything will be okay if you stay in this place.
The ego lives in denial. It denies reality and over-inflates your abilities.
The Dunning-Krueger Effect
Have you ever heard of Dunning-Krueger effect?
The Dunning-Krueger effect is a form of cognitive bias where one with low ability or expertise overestimates their skills and performance in one area.
This often happens with intelligent people. This is why we have some doctors who think they know everything about nutrition, despite only having 20 hours of nutritional study in medical school.
In 1952, Albert Einstein was offered to become the President of Israel. Einstein replied back with, “All my life I have dealt with objective matters, hence I lack both the natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people and to exercise official functions. For these reasons alone I should be unsuited to fulfill the duties of that high office, even if advancing age was not making increasing inroads on my strength.”
Albert Einstein understood that because he was a genius in physics did not mean that he would be a genius politician. Being an expert in one difficult field does not make you an expert in another field that difficult. Only if more people understood that.
The Ego Is Insidious
The ego is the water that is slowly getting hotter, and you’re the frog inside of it.
When you start to make progress in life, this is when you have to watch out for the ego even more. How many people stories have there been about people who lost tons of weight but then became an entirely different person after that no one liked? How many writers build up their portfolio and then think they know everything about writing?
The internet has allowed us to see real-life documentation of the ego working in its mysterious ways.
When does it plant its insidious seeds within? The exact moment is difficult to identify, but the only person who can stop it is the person it’s growing within.
How Do You Reduce Your Ego
First, you need to identify areas of your life where your ego gets in the way. This is hard, REALLY hard. Looking at your life objectively is almost impossible. It requires a great deal of self-reflection that most people simply do not want to do.
”It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.” - Epictetus
Follow Your Gut
Do you know that feeling in your gut that you get when you’re nervous about something? Those are great moments to identify when your ego is manifesting. I had this feeling of discomfort when I would go on stage for plays, and eventually, it disappeared.
Currently, it’s fear of self-judgment from others when talking to a camera or a microphone. What I started doing to get past that is on my easy run days, I tape record myself talking to myself. I will literally talk about writing ideas or whatever is going through my mind at the time.
This works in two ways. First, it helps me not to go too hard on my easy run days since I am talking in full sentences. Second, it gives me an opportunity to not care what anyone thinks I might say as I run by. It may sound weird to feel judged by strangers on the street, but that feeling in my gut tells me that I do, this is something I need to work on getting past.
What Reducing The Ego Can Do For You
The benefits of reducing your ego are boundless. You will live a life that is more honest about who you are.
Reducing the ego will make you more productive. Since you will have a real understanding of your abilities, you will set yourself up to make real progress.
While I don’t believe we can eliminate our ego completely (maybe in short moments with psychedelics) but in our everyday lives, there will be moments when the ego gets in the way.
What you need to do is identify those moments when it happens and work not to make the same mistake again.
The results may not seem obvious at first, but eventually, they will be obvious. Relationships will grow, your work ethic will increase, and you will become a lifelong learner.