How many times have you heard someone being referred to as “having a big ego”? In popular culture, ego refers to our sense of self-importance and is used to describe someone who acts "full of themselves".
However, in psychology and spirituality, the term ego is not quite the same. In very general terms, it means the "self" and many psychologists and spiritual gurus warn that being too connected to our ego negatively affects us in many ways.
So, let’s unravel the real ego meaning and how we can keep it from causing us harm.
What is Ego?
According to psychology, the ego is part of your conscious mind that plays a significant role in personal identity. It helps you identify who you are as a person and creates the labels you give yourself and the terms you use to define yourself, e.g. parent, teacher, employee.
The Dark Side of The Ego
We all have an ego, but some of us can better control it than others. The ego thrives on self-importance and will tell you to do whatever it deems necessary to feel worthy. However, the behavioral traits that the ego prompts are almost always negative.
For example, if our ego becomes "bruised," we may criticize and judge others or act manipulative to feel better about ourselves. And the more you give into the ego's demands, the stronger and more controlling it becomes, resulting in a constant need to feel superior to everyone else.
The more control your ego gains, the further you move away from your "being" (your most authentic self). When you are stuck in an ego trip, you lose touch with your inner self and become convinced by the labels your ego has given you.
Your actions are not aligned with your values, so you become increasingly unhappy. However, as you are under the ego's control, you seek happiness in the physical world through praise and approval rather than finding the answers within.
An ego trip disconnects you from the present moment, the only actual reality. You become fixated on the past and the future, dwelling on mistakes you made and worrying about what could go wrong. This then leads to a whole host of mental health problems.
Signs That Your Ego Is Controlling You
Now you know what the ego is, you are probably wondering how to identify if you are too caught up in yours. Here are some common similarities of people experiencing an ego trip.
Feeling jealous/unhappy/angry about others' success, including friends and family.
Obsessively comparing yourself and your accomplishments to others.
Seeking attention and praise from people around you and feeling bad when you do not receive it.
Seeing yourself as better than everyone else.
Purposely looking for and pointing out the flaws in others but getting angry when someone points out yours.
How to Keep Your Ego in Check
Although there is no way to eliminate the ego, there are things you can do to weaken its control over you. People controlled by their egos fully identify with their minds. They religiously listen to and follow everything their inner voice says, which is usually harmful and destructive.
To release control of the ego, you must understand that you are not your mind or the thoughts it produces. If you start to see your mind as the ego and a separate part of yourself, you'll open up space to learn more about who you really are.
Separating from the mind is not easy to do by any means. It takes time and patience, but thanks to mindfulness techniques like meditation, you can slowly start to disconnect from the ego and connect within.
Start by observing your mental activity. Watch the thoughts that enter your mind. Are they negative, repetitive, or self-destructive? Each time you notice a thought, visualize a miniature person sitting on your shoulder speaking these words to you.
The more you do this, the more you'll understand the separation between ego and the self. As this shift happens, the ego's power naturally lessens, enabling you to think clearer, become more present, and make better decisions.
The ego is a powerful part of our conscious mind that causes unpleasant emotions and negative traits. However, by understanding what the ego is and how it causes harm, you can lessen its grip on your thoughts and behavior. Mindfulness practices like meditation, gratitude, and yoga can help bring the ego under your control and connect to your true self.
Meta Description: No one likes a self-centered person. Here's how the ego can negatively affect your life and what you can do to prevent it.