Most of us hate arrogant people.
We hate guys who are cocky, that constantly boast about their accomplishments and abilities. We hate people who look down on others because they think that they’re better than them.
Most of us would agree that too much ego is a problem.
So what is the solution? How do we get rid of our egos?
Actually, the solution isn’t to destroy our egos, but, rather use it to our advantage.
Let me explain.
Imagine an amorphous slab of clay.
That’s your ego.
It’s misshapen, uncontrolled, and unpredictable.
For the most part, you might be calm under duress, but sometimes you get triggered by the smallest quirks or details, and you never know when it’s going to come.
Maybe someone makes a joking remark about your weight, and, even though you have an average BMI, maybe you were overweight when you were younger. Then the comment triggers those playground teases of “fatso” and “heavy Kevy.” No one sees it coming, including yourself, but all of the sudden you unleash your wrath upon the unsuspecting commenter…
“Wow, you’re getting two cheeseburgers? That should be good for your waistline…”
“Maybe you should mind your own business,” you reply with malicious sarcasm.
“I was only kidding…” your friend replies.
“Yeah, ok…so how’s it going with that job search of yours?” you reply with the clear intention of bringing up your friend’s recent unemployment.
“Seriously?! I was just joking…”
A simple comment quickly turns into a verbal crossfire, and it seemed to blindside the both of you.
Let’s look at it from an ego perspective.
Let’s define ego as the way you perceive yourself, which is based on the way you think other people perceive you and the way you perceive yourself.
Our collection of life experiences forms this substrate of belief.
So those playground teases are building blocks in the edifice of your identity.
Knowing this, we can reshape our identity.
By working the clay.
By fully reflecting on your past experiences and, especially, your emotionally traumatic experiences, you can begin to release from them. The first step is acknowledgment, and the second step is to relive those experiences.
The third step is to find a way to release the emotions associated with each experience. There are multiple ways of doing this. Some write out their stream of consciousness on paper, others take it out physically by taking up boxing or hitting couches with baseball bats (yes, this is actually a technique used in cognitive behavioral therapy), and others use guided meditations and subconscious releases to allow these feelings to be released from them.
Each of these are viable methods. You can do one or all of them, as long as you find what works for you.
The process of working through these emotions is like wetting and kneading the clay. You’re making it more malleable so that you can eventually form it into what you desire.
So once you’ve released from the emotions, then you can choose who you want to become and what values you want to have. It’s that simple.
For any video game nerds out there, it’s akin to choosing your virtual avatar when you first start playing an RPG game. You get to choose what role and attributes that you want to have.
Of course, in the game of life, some of these choices are limited because you inherit your race and most physical attributes.
However, you get to choose what you want to do, what skills you want to cultivate, and who you want to become.
And feel free to dream big. Most people who are uberly successful in life (think of the top 1%) have one trait in common–they’re all big dreamers.
Elon Musk wanted to go to space, Steve Jobs had a vision for revolutionizing technology, Bill Gates had the foresight to see the power of computers, and so on.
The difference between an experienced artist and a layperson is that the artist sees the world differently. They pay attention to detail and are patient with their work.
Likewise, successful people see the world differently. Everything is viewed from the lens of “how do my actions and my environment contribute to my dream? What actions can I take to bring that dream into reality?”
Then they go to work. Like the potter, they reshape the clay. They let it spin and make micro-adjustments to eventually create a masterpiece.
But it takes time. It takes patience. And it takes the willingness to cultivate refined skills and attention to painstaking detail in order to create a work of art.
That slab of clay that you’ve worked into art is you reshaping your identity and your ego. Once you let go of your emotional resistance holding you back from pursuing your ideal life, you can start to create it.