I started being aware of ego when I was in high school. The “cool kids” in school would sit on the low window sills that lined the hallway outside the cafeteria. You always felt like you were being inspected by whoever was sitting there so you would try to avoid this hallway if possible. I don’t know if the cool kids were aware of the effect that they had on the uncool kids, but I somehow think that they must have. The weird thing is that as uncomfortable as it was to walk that hallway of judgement, there was a twisted desire to be one of the cool kids sitting on the window sill.
I became so annoyed about this group of students passing judgement on the rest of this that I wrote this poem which was published in my high school year book.
A conceivable object
breeding on liquor and foul language
always lusting for more, yet never satisfied.
Nurtured on inferior minds housed in toys of flesh.
Primates, brains yet to evolve. Lost in double standards.
Pygmies wearing over-sized suits and hats inflated for better fit.
Vulnerable to a pin-prick soon mended by conceit.
Impregnated with childlike notions. Immortal.
Few exceptions to the rule
yet to be found in
The more self righteous I became about ego-maniacs and their arrogance, the more in denial I became about my own ego. You see, ego is a jerk and is very good at hiding its selfish behaviour often without any awareness by its host.
I learned more about ego through a meditation group which started exploring the work of Eckhart Tolle. This reflective work forced me to look at my own inner jerk and I came away from this process with some thoughts that I’d like to share with you.
My belief is that we are all connected through one energetic source (call it whatever suits your spiritual or religious beliefs) and this universal source unites us; it makes us the same. When you are connected to source you have a constant reservoir of energy that sustains you. This connection is very humbling and brings with it an awareness of your responsibility to serve others.
When you are not connected to source, you are in an energetic deficit and have to find an alternate source of energy. A disconnected spirit is vulnerable to the actions of ego: judging others; comparing yourself to others, jealousy, passive-aggressive behaviour; gossiping. Ego loves this stuff because he is such a jerk!
Director, Alejandro G. Inarritu who in 2015, won the Academy Award for Best Director for his film, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virture of Ignorance)” had this to say about ego. (Skip to 2:15 in the video if you are short on time.)
When I worked as a body worker (on people not cars), I was privileged to work with a fantastic group of like-minded people who shared the common desire to help their clients feel better. There was no gloating over successes, bragging or one-upmanship. There was deep satisfaction in the act of serving another. Could happiness be this simple? Could the only person that you compete with be a better version of yourself?
Social media can feed ego if you let it. Likes and faves can cause you to run to your iPhone every half-hour. Apps and services that can buy followers create a false reality of being popular. Facebook posts can show happy-happy days without the reality of poopy diapers and snotty-nosed children. That jerk, ego loves social media!
But is there a place for ego? The yang for the yin? Do leaders need a healthy ego in order to take risks and overcome adversity? Some leaders might fit this profile, but will they be happy in their accomplishments or will ego crave more power – more money – more something? Consider the candidates currently running for President in the United States. You could line candidates up under one of two signs: “Ego” and “Serving others”.
Ego is a jerk and likes to sneak up on you when you are least expecting it – when you are unaware. So what can you do to keep this jerk out of your life? Lately I have been applying a filter on my thoughts, words and actions by asking myself if this serves my higher self (God spark/source) or ego. It is an interesting exercise and keeps me honest with my intentions because ego tries to convince you that it is acting with the best of intentions but sometimes ego lies because (let’s say it together) – ego is a jerk.
Do you have any stories to share about ego or tips to keep it in check?