Are you a slave to your ego?
Before you answer that, ask yourself the following questions:
Last month? Last week? Yesterday?
The truth is we are all slaves to our egos. Your ego continuously challenges you in a multitude of situations. You’re in a work meeting, feeling overwhelmed with a need to share your superior knowledge and ideas to the group, who clearly do not understand the situation as well as you. Or maybe you’re meeting your future in-laws for the first time. Eager to impress them, you interrupt the conversation and ramble on with your opinions of the current political crisis. Or perhaps, you’re at a social engagement and afraid of saying anything that might make you look like a fool, you keep your mouth closed and hover over the hors d’oeuvres all night.
In each of these situations, your ego is acting out of a desire for approval. It is afraid of rejection, failure, and looking stupid. In essence, your ego is your desire to receive for the self alone. Our job is to work towards a more selfless place—to transform that desire into a desire to receive for the sake of sharing.
Yet, we let our egos make decisions for us all the time. Our egos are responsible when we flaunt a new car or name drop at a social gathering. But our egos also act out of insecurity, urging us to speak or act in order to keep others from doubting our intelligence, abilities, or skill set. In either case, our egos prompt impulsive and reactive behavior.
Not convinced? You might be letting your ego make your decisions if you find yourself feeling remorse for your actions, trapped in negative cycles of behavior, or becoming overly concerned with what others think. Consider the last time you felt frustrated, jealous, insecure, or resentful. Were you able to stay silent when you wanted to make a fuss, stay neutral when you wanted to act out of jealousy, or push yourself to take a risk when you felt insecure? If so, great! If not, well don’t be too hard on yourself. Now you can see where your work needs to be done.
The truth is, most of our behavior is reactive. But there is a good reason for that. Without reactive and impulsive moments, we wouldn’t be able to rise above that consciousness and grow spiritually. Bear in mind, this is a constant struggle—a push and pull between slave and master. There are no days off.
This is important work. By resisting the pull of our egos we are better able to connect with the people in our lives. Our egos create the illusion of a division between others and ourselves. It traps us in a kind of prison, preventing us from seeing the humanity in others and empathizing with their unique experiences, while becoming overly concerned with our own. Part of our spiritual work on this earth is to create unity with each other, to break down these barriers so we can share with others.
After all, as Karen Berg says, "To be a slave to anything is to deny the fact that you are part of the Creator." Banish the need to gratify your ego and work towards empathy for others.