All I can be is who I am right now; I can experience that and work with it. That’s all I can do. The rest is the dream of the ego. -Charlotte J. Beck
What is your ego? I mean really, what is the bottom line to what your ego is? Amongst philosophy books this can be a very complicated questions, and an even more complicated answer. Many believe that your ego consists of memories, aspirations, and habits. In this article we will break down what you ego is and sum up what you can do combat it’s influence.
Simply stated the ego is a collection of habitually thought, thoughts. Meaning, your ego is constructed of thoughts that have been operating in your mind since you were a child. This is where our limiting beliefs, daily habits, and thoughts about everything stem from. We always relate back to this collection of thoughts to identify what we believe and how our lives should play out. Furthermore, we always claim these ideas to me “ours”. When, in actuality they are just a collection of gathered thoughts from friends, family, peers, and society. To come up with a strictly “original” idea takes deep contemplation and internal quiet. With all of the noise and distractions available to us, we find it hard to do this so we just go along with what is given to us. Choosing to go along with popular fashion, ideals, and religions. This means that when someone comes along with a challenging belief or idea they are scowled at as “outcasts” or even worse “weirdos!” . This is unfortunate due to the authentic nature of their thinking. We usually back up our stances with statements such as, “But everyone else thinks…” or “That not what they said…”, always referring back to, what psychologists call, “The Herd Mentality”.
The Herd Mentality & Ego:
Defined: Herd mentality, describes how people are influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors, follow trends, and/or purchase items. Examples of the herd mentality include stock market trends, fashions in apparel, cars, taste in music, superstition, religion, home décor, etc. Social psychologists study the related topics of group intelligence, crowd wisdom, and decentralized decision making.
Let me give you an example: “Would you jump off a cliff if your friends did?”, our parents always used to say. We always say, “NO! Of course I wouldn’t!”, with resounding anger that they even asked the question. But here is the truth; the truth is that we have a 80% increased possibility to follow our friends off a bridge then if by ourselves. Why? Because when we make the resounding “NO!” rebuttal to our parents unsightly question we aren’t thinking about it in context of the actually situation. In the actual situation we would be in a different state of mind, altered by our friends’ influence on us. We are simply thinking about, well, dying if we were to jump off a cliff. In context our state would be very different. Friends, just like in herd mentality, are trusted individuals we deem worthy of sharing our time with. The more time we spend time with them the more trust and moral we build with those trusted individuals. As this happens, we bestow increasing value upon our friends’ opinion of reality, society, and us. This is where we fall short. At this juncture our friends now have the ability to manipulate us, and us them. This is done numerously, on varying levels, in every relationship. Why? Because of this evaluation of our counterparts’ opinion. This opinion isn’t good or bad, right or wrong. That isn’t the point. The point is that by entrusting value on another individual based on how must we know them isn’t solid enough evidence to do so. In business, this would be as if I invested money in a company I had great and trusting relationship with the owners of the business – ONLY! You wouldn’t do that. You want to know the products or services, inner mechanics, long term goals, and so forth. You want to know everything about where you are placing you money before you do so. With our ego, which is more valuable, we tend to just give it to the quickest sale – or – who will take it first.
Don’t Trust – Your Thoughts:
It’s okay to trust people once you’ve gotten to know them. But our thoughts, since we have discovered aren’t all our own, should never be trusted – nor ignored. The ideal that thoughts can be ignored for a peaceful mind is complete fallacy. Do not ignore your thoughts. As the samurai’s creed states: ”Hug your enemy so that he can’t grab is sword.” This simple principle should be applied to our thoughts in the same fashion. Embrace each and every thought that enters your head. The difference?: Don’t trust that it’s the correct thought. Thoughts come and go like the passing of clouds. I always tell fitness clients that they should wait one hour before they indulge in a food they are craving. Every time the craving passes. Why? Because they don’t REALLY want the craving, it’s psychologic. Thoughts should be handled in the same way. Wait, and see what happens in the next couple of moments before saying that word, tell off that coworker, or going through that drive through.
One of the hardest things to understand and master is our rapid thoughts. These are the thoughts that come to us in times of stress or “knee-jerk” reaction moments. Someone says something and we rapidly fire back with a stream of phrases that could have been delivered differently and calmer. We know what these retaliation style comments are accomplishing: Hurt. Therefore, we need to become skillful in watching these thoughts come and go rather than letting them manifest in our reality.
Quick Tip: The more rabid the thought comes in to our mind, the more rabid it will leave.
The next time you have a knee-jerk reaction to a person or situation. Stop for a moment, or three breath-lengths, and look for other options to answering the demands of the situation. You will find it refreshing and empowering to know that you don’t have to hurt anyone anymore, shocking them with your calm focused response.
If you had to select original ideas over implanted ideas from others, which would you choose? Obviously most of you would like to have original thoughts creating the reality you want. In that case, I suggest you do the following:
- Every day, chant an internal mantra of ONE word, for at least 30 minutes. Pick a word that is positive in nature and that you can remember easily. This will help to quiet your inner monologue.
- Meditation is key. This is something that is slammed over the head with a stick – I know. Nevertheless, spend time every day in silence. Silence renews the soul and cleanses the mind.
- Turn off influence. Look to turn off the radio, tv, etc. When some one says something, filter it through before you hold on to it. Then, remember that it was their thought on the matter and not yours.
If you follow these three simple steps every day, I promise you will start noticing new and ORIGINAL ideas randomly popping up in your mind. Some may sound crazy, but they might be just what you need.