If you’re ever wondering why you find yourself stuck in your own life, you likely don’t have to look much further than your own self. It’s entirely possible it’s your own ego that’s getting in your way. Having a healthy ego (knowing who you are, believing you’re whole and complete as you are) is necessary for your sense of self so you move through the world with purpose and confidence. Ego becomes a problem when you either have:
- a deflated ego, so you try to get a sense of self from the people/places/things around you
- or you have an inflated ego, so you believe you’re superior to everybody else.
An unhealthy ego will stagnate you. You need to let it go so you can let yourself:
1. Be teachable.
You can’t ever learn anything new if you think you know it all already. You won’t let others show you their expertise and find another way of doing things (maybe easier or faster) if you’ve convinced yourself you’ve got it all figured out. You’ll refuse to even listen to the thoughts/opinions/beliefs that get presented to you if your ego tells you that you got this, you don’t need anyone else’s help, you can figure this out on your own. (You might hear them but you won’t take them into your mind/heart where they might actually change what you think/believe.)
Know this: letting yourself be a beginner who is willing to learn is the fastest way to get to where you want to be. You won’t let yourself be one if your ego is buzzing in your ear that you ought to already know this stuff by now.
2. Let go of mistakes.
If you find yourself beating yourself up over your mistakes, playing them on a loop inside your mind, using them as fuel to berate yourself instead of fuel to learn and move forward, that’s because of an ego that focuses on perfection. If you’re worried about how what you do or who you are will be perceived by others, you tend not to ever step out of your comfort zone because you’d risk making a mistake, risk failure, risk ridicule or criticism or humiliation and on the list goes. It’s your ego that’s got you locked inside the confines of that zone, and you won’t be able to free yourself with an unhealthy ego running the show.
Know this: mistakes are learning experiences and that’s all they are, no matter how life-altering they may be to go through; you just got a lesson in what didn’t work. It’s your ego that makes the mistakes personal.
The only way to grow is to learn new things and try them out, experiment over and over to create a life around what works best for you and let go of everything that doesn’t. It’s nearly impossible to do that, both to grow and to create the life you most want, when an unhealthy ego is stopping you in your tracks. You can’t grow if you:
- can’t admit you don’t know it all.
- refuse to admit your mistakes and then let go of them.
- keep going down a path you don’t even want to be on because you won’t let yourself be wrong, admit that you made a bad choice, look at your own decisions as the culprit, take responsibility for how your life turns out, let go of all the time and energy you already spent, and on the list goes.
- won’t give yourself unlimited tries.
- won’t forgive yourself.
Know this: nobody can grow when they’ve got an ego with a machete chopping them back down.
4. Be humble.
An unhealthy ego tends to be about how you and/or your life looks to others. That means, in some way, you’re catering to the wants of other people instead of what you actually want for your life. It’s an unhealthy ego that starts you down a path you don’t want to be on (even if you don’t necessarily realize it at the time). It’s also what keeps you walking down that path. And if you don’t let go of your ego, you will end up somewhere (weeks, months, years, decades down the line) that you just really don’t want to be.
Letting go of your ego will help you admit to yourself what you actually want. Then you have to tell yourself over and over until you believe it that what you want matters. Then you must do that thing and keep doing it regardless of what gets thrown at you.
It takes being humble to:
- take a good, honest look at your life.
- steer your life in a new direction if the way you’re going doesn’t feel right to you.
- decide that what you want for your life is reason enough to pursue it.
- admit that you don’t have it all figured out but you’re going to keep working on it until you do.
Know this: your ego may tell you that being humble is weakness; it’s not. Being humble is strength because you finally take to heart that you need to be the one to fix your own life; being humble is what will help you do it.
5. Relax into your life.
It’s hard to relax when you let your mistakes derail you. You fall down and, because of an unhealthy ego, you don’t get back up again. It’s just about impossible to relax if you’re trapped within the confines of your comfort zone and you feel/want/need to be doing something more with your life but are afraid to step out and try because your ego with its machete is just waiting for you to take a step of faith out into the unknown beyond that zone.
The only way to relax into your life is to know you’re going to fall down (because at some point you will whether you’ll admit it to yourself or not) and to resolve to get back up again. Once you let go of an unhealthy ego, you’ll come to find that what was once a gut-wrenching task of hauling yourself back up, maybe looking around to see if others saw you fall, nursing your emotional state back to health, etc., is now just a small emotional blip (or maybe even just a shrug) as you get back up, dust yourself, off, learn what you can, and try again.
Know this: you can’t lower the stakes and take the pressure off (and hence relax) with an ego ready to pounce on you.
So will you let go of your unhealthy ego today?