What’s stopping me from doing all the things I want to? It’s not other people, my ability, or even time.
It’s my ego, and it’s the same for you.
Freud “found” the ego, and it’s the part of your mind that tries to balance out your subconscious desires (the id) and the pressures society puts on us (the super-ego).
The ego has a purpose, but for most of us, it’s overprotective. Here are a few ways your ego screws you over.
Fear of failure
The ego is what gives you a fear of failure. I hate to say it, but that shapes a massive part of my life. The fear of failing, the fear of judgment, and the fear of shame keep me from doing the things I aspire to. The ego keeps you on the couch for another night, even though you resolve to go to the gym. The couch is safe and familiar, and it’s tough to fail at watching Netflix.
Protecting your self-image
Your ego makes you protect your self-image, causing you to focus too much on validation from others. Instead of working towards a goal, you work to avoid criticism. You don’t show your true self because it makes you vulnerable. Instead, you play things safe and fit in with the crowd.
For me, it’s the fear that someone would think I’m not smart or good enough. Protecting my self-image holds me back from growing and learning. I stop myself from writing because I fear being wrong or being compared to others.
Comparing yourself to others, even your past self, is always a losing game. It doesn’t benefit you and only leads to resentment, artificial competition, and disappointment. The ego is to blame here, too, as it sees the success of others as an affront to your self-image.
Fear of change
As I said, the ego wants to keep you exactly where you are. The ego is what makes any change feel scary. Even when you need a change, your ego will invent excuses to stay in your shitty situation. If you’re afraid to leave the mediocre job you’ve been at for years, your ego is to blame.
Overcoming the ego
A life lived protecting your ego is one you’ll regret. But since brain surgery isn’t a viable option, how can we override the ego when it freezes us in place?
The first step is identifying your beliefs or actions that stem from the ego. If you want to make YouTube videos but find some voice inside giving you reasons not to, that’s your ego talking.
If you can get your thoughts out of your head through journaling, therapy, or some other way, they’re easier to deal with and overcome. An illogical thought only survives in the darkness of your mind. Pull them into the light.
Try approaching things with a beginner’s mind. Even if you have a senior title, try not to associate with it. Come at everything like a beginner, be willing to ask any question, and learn from anyone.