Ego – The Source Of Unhappiness And How To Turn It Around
There are thousands of reasons why we become unhappy throughout our lives. Most of those times we blame something or someone else for our unhappiness. Have you ever considered that the reason for your unhappiness can actually be your own ego?
Why is ego the source of our unhappiness?
It is pretty simple. Ego is our friend who is, at all costs, trying to protect us from the outside unpleasant circumstances. And how does it do that? By initiating all kinds of defense mechanism like:
- pride (“Who does he think he is?”)
- anger (“I am so furious at her for putting me down in front of others”)
- self-pity (“I am so worthless, no one sees any value in me”), etc.
Ego is a part of us and we should accept it with great respect and honor. Without it, we would be like a flag flapping in the wind without any purpose or self-control.
But why is then ego the source of our unhappiness? Because we are not aware of its defense mechanism. That causes it to do everything on autopilot and its reactions can have a negative impact on our lives.
If we get mad at our boss for being rude to us, we would automatically sense that pride “Who does he think he is?”. But on the other hand, if we are aware of our ego, we will not get that kind of reaction. Instead, we will think much broader about the boss. We will observe him from a neutral point and feel compassion and pity besides anger. It is ok to stand up for yourself and put a stop to rudeness or molesting. However, our anger can turn into a rage and then we end up in a very dark place with not only rage but resentment, hate, and even violent thoughts.
Ego under control
Ego is a part of our personality and it comes from our subconscious mind. With time we learned to protect ourselves in a certain way. What we need to do now is to become aware when our ego passes all fences and gets into an unhealthy zone.
Our previously mentioned boss can complicate our lives with very rude and abusive behavior. Our response to that situation is a direct result of our ego. Depending on our thought pattern (our ego) we will treat a problematic situation in a certain way.
When we say “ego under control”, it means being aware of our ego’s reaction. Once again, we come to the term called “mindfulness”.
If we become mindful of our ego’s reaction, we will learn to see that our ego is only trying to protect us and sometimes it means having an exaggerated reaction to someone’s behavior. At that point, we can become our own enemies. Instead of approaching a difficult situation with caution, understanding, assertiveness, or compassion, we tend to pout, fight, or even insult back. That is when our ego, in its protective mode, makes us even more unhappy.
On the other hand, if we mindfully observe our ego and how we react, we might see that it is us who need to change in order to start reacting properly. The boss might never change in being abusive and insulting. What we can do by becoming aware is to take a different approach and start being assertive by demanding fair treatment.
Ego under control means having a constant awareness of how we feel in each situation. By mindfully observing our thoughts and feeling, we can behave positively. That means our ego will stop hurting us with the wrong approach and reaction to difficult situations. Instead, we will recognize its learned pattern and enable us to undertake a different, more healthy approach.
Pouting or yelling back at your boss won’t bring anything good (this type of behavior is a wrongly learned ego’s defense mechanism dating back to the earliest childhood). It can only make you degraded at work or even fired. However, recognizing that you are about to offend him with your ego’s response will make you change your reaction and from then on you can actively approach the situation by solving it in a mature and reasonable way.