Every time I’ve suffered in life, my ego has been at the source. Not knowing your ass from third base breeds numerous problems, but perhaps the most dangerous is the inability to see beyond your own point of view.
Living via your ego is essentially operating as if everything revolves around you — the world as you see it is the way it is. While a smattering of truth is present, much of life is open to interpretation. Getting outside of our own opinion as often as possible can spare us much of the heartache.
Easier said than done, there are several strategies for stepping outside of the ego and living a harmonious life. Here are 13 ways to remain grounded in your understanding of the events life chooses to unfold.
1. Kill the addiction to approval.
Much like the Hedonic Treadmill, approval is like any other desire in life. We strive to gain it, relish in it momentarily once attained, and set out for more thereafter. It’s as gratifying as winning the lottery and having to return the money the next day. The recognition is not the issue — the fact that we don’t feel good enough without it is.
2. Seek out praise for others.
The subconscious mind doesn’t operate based on what you think is true. It functions based on what it hears. Deliberately identifying opportunities to praise others will gradually shift your inner being from quietly self-serving to proudly secure.
3. Write down or declare your purpose each day.
Despite the astounding capabilities of the brain, it’s default is reaction mode. If you don’t chart a course for it, the ship only steers when absolutely necessary. Writing down your intent for the day allows you to override the survival mechanism and stay consistent with who you really are.
4. Let go of the false power of anger.
You’re not fooling anyone by raising your voice. Anger, although combative on the surface, is a derived from fear. We have no need to relish in rage when we are secure within ourselves. It’s when we feel threatened and afraid that we look to throw the kitchen sink.
Leaning into anger is the fastest route to losing any grip whatsoever on the situation. You give up your ability to cause a different outcome. Instead of lashing out, care for the child inside of you who is clearly hurt by the situation and come up with a more balanced plan of attack.
5. Spend time alone in nature.
Man-made structures can always have holes poked in them. There’s always an opportunity to say what could be better. Nature, on the other hand, is much harder to argue with. It comes from the earth, the unknown, which we do not understand. That which we do not understand, we proceed with caution. There’s absolutely zero ego in the eye of a hurricane.
6. Leverage the Law of Attraction.
Increasing in popularity over the past several years, the Law of Attraction states that what you put out to the universe, you receive in return. So when most of your questions to are centered around what you can get out of life, life typically meets you with a similar demanding nature.
Conversely, looking for ways in which you can serve often opens up the doors for others to do the same for you. You must give what you wish to receive.
7. Be still.
There was an event that took places in your life between the ages of four–six that resulted in a permanent conversation in your head. This internal noise, which we leverage for much of our wisdom, is not our intuition. It’s simply our survival dialogue giving up a blown-out-of-proportion commentary about what’s happening in our lives. The ego is pulling the strings.
Next time you feel triggered, don’t act or respond right away. Acknowledge your first response and ask yourself, “What else could this mean?”
8. Use irritation from others as a mirror for yourself.
How you react to others says more about you and the state you’re in than it does about them. People are who they are — some very secure, some not. An inkling of frustration is meant to be water, not gasoline. Assume everyone you interact with is perfect the way they are except you. Hold back the onset of berating other people and flip the lens to see which part of your psyche the situation could be exposing — and could use more of your love.
9. Focus on inner currency.
While you may have tangible money in a tangible bank, the same can be said for what’s inside your heart and mind. It won’t matter how much money you have in savings if there’s mostly garbage in your head. The love and compassion you show yourself and others is the quickest way to making huge deposits in your spiritual bank account — the one that will grant you a far more fulfilling life than simply dollars and cents.
10. Give in to vulnerability.
Being open and honest about what’s really going on is a true measure of strength. The fear of looking bad drives people to internalize much of what they deal with on a daily basis. Feelings are reduced in power when we verbalize them and see them for what they are. Keeping them locked away in a tight crevice leaves the authentic self preoccupied, creating space for the ego to step in and navigate self-expression.
11. Suppress the need to add your opinion to everything.
There’s something to be said about the person secure enough within themselves to remain quiet and reserved while another party shares. We’re very connected as human beings. Odds are, we could add our opinion to just about any conversation. Most of the time, however, it’s not who we really are that’s looking to add the opinion — it’s the ego.
The ego has an overwhelmingly need for significance. Therefore, it cannot help but blurt a point-of-view every waking chance it gets. Realize this is not serving any particular need outside of self-worth. If you’re not offering something of legitimate value to the person you’re speaking with, calm the storm and wait for a question to be posed.
12. Question why you do what you do.
In neuro-linguistic programming, there’s what’s called a core value elicitation. With this method, the values that drive people are derived from what they’re looking for in life, down to the deepest level. For example, a person’s chosen career path could serve the values of contribution and growth or it could serve the values of security and self-worth. Same trajectory, very different forces manning the control booth.
It’s when we’re unclear on which of these values we’re serving that we’re often left unfulfilled. We arrive at a checkpoint we looked forward to celebrating and a cascade of emptiness wipes out whatever glimmer of excitement we had been harboring. The ego is self-consumed. If what you’re doing doesn’t light you up, it probably isn’t addressing a value that’s important enough to you — or you’re not making a deliberate correlation to it.
13. Locate yourself in others as often as possible.
The context in which we screw up in life can differ, but we all do it. It seems like only yesterday we experienced our most spectacular drop of the ball, as we pleaded to our higher power for people to show mercy.
Much of life is trivial. It’s not grandiose or horrific, it’s simply there. Being, breathing, alone, and perplexed. It’s hard enough as it is for many of us. Because of the way the human brain is wired, things will get worse if we don’t consciously make them better. Given this understanding, we either make things better for others or we allow them to get worse — there’s no neutrality.
Viewing ourselves as distinct from everyone else is the quickest way to set the ego loose to spread its turmoil. We’re not that different. We all have the same needs. Certain people may have created layer upon layer of protection agencies but inside, there’s still a scared kid. The sooner we identify a time when we experienced a similar struggle to what another person if dealing with, the sooner we trade our admonishment for love and care — the ultimate victory for the authentic self over the ego.