Sometimes we just want to have our way. While our individual desires and identities make us who we are, there are times when it gets to the point where what we want directly clashes with others, with the environment and even with ourselves.
When our ego goes at odds with living a peaceful, happy life, it becomes imperative to swim with the current, not against it, and let go of the struggle, so that we can find another route to what we want, one which works with life instead of against it. Moreover, sometimes in the process of letting go, we find that what we want has been right in front of us all along, and we were just missing it, often because we were too focused on getting our way.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary has several definitions of ego. The simplest definition is “the opinion that you have about yourself.” Another definition describes the ego as “the self especially as contrasted with another self or the world.” Our daily use of the word “ego” usually refers to how highly we think of themselves; relating a large ego to a certain sense of of pride, sometimes stubborn pride.
In Psychology Today, Gregg Henriques, a professor of psychology at James Madison University, writes, “a more modern conception… is to consider the ego as the self-consciousness system. The self-consciousness system is the narrating portion of human consciousness that reflects on one’s thoughts, feelings and actions and inhibits or legitimizes them to one’s self and to others.”
While the ego is part of what makes us who we are are, it can sometimes get in our way. One example of this is in relationships. It is important to stay true to and stand up for ourselves in relationships, but when you get to the point where you are arguing just to be right or prove a point, it can become damaging. Sometimes we have to let go, and realize that a happy and harmonious interaction is more important than our ego’s need to be validated.
Perhaps you are making a family decision, and while the change makes you uncomfortable, it can greatly benefit everyone involved. In times like this, it may be important to put your ego aside and do what is best for everyone, and not cave in to your ego’s resistance to change. For more on coping with life changes, check out our recent article.
Another example of a time when our ego may need to take a step back is when it comes to the environment. Our ego often functions with a “me versus the world” sort of mentality. This attitude may lead to wasting food, or tossing certain items in the trash which could have been reused or recycled, simply because it was more convenient. In this situation, deciding to co-exist with the world, rather than asserting your superiority over it, is key.
So, how do we let go? Often, it is simply a matter of assessing all aspects of a situation and how they affect others and your environment, not just yourself. If your ego struggle is an internal battle of what to do/how to be, meditation can be extremely helpful. This ancient practice can help you get in touch with the present moment, feel the connection between yourself and the world, and give your mind the space to just be, free of the need for self-validation.
-The Alternative Daily