Free Yourself from Your Ego
Social media makes it easier to talk about ourselves (and brag) more than ever.
Are people taking amazing vacations? They might be eager to mention them on Facebook. Finish renovating their homes? Share pictures of them on Instagram. Have political opinions? Talk about them on Twitter.
Receiving likes or positive comments for these posts might boost people’s egos, prompting them to post even more. But if they don’t receive such feedback, will it ultimately hurt the way they feel about themselves?
Will the photos and feedback also damage others’ egos? They might be jealous or sad because they might feel that their lives are lacking, that they aren’t receiving positive recognition themselves.
External discussions can create internal turmoil. Since our egos are so fragile and easily manipulated, wouldn’t it be better to remove or minimize their impact?
How to Break Up With Your Ego
By considering some quotations, song lyrics, and slogans, we can gain some helpful perspectives.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”Theodore Roosevelt
We’ve all seen the social media posts of people taking trips to faraway lands, chronicling their fitness accomplishments, or posing with their families. These posts might make us feel bad as if we’re not accomplishing enough or are failing in some way.
But these posts are just snippets of a person’s life. A person might be less likely to disclose if he or she has been diagnosed with cancer, has been receiving treatment for an addiction, or is facing other challenges.
Posts are snapshots in time, not autobiographical movies. Our egos shouldn’t suffer based on such incomplete information.
“People say believe half of what you see, son. And none of what you hear.”Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield – From the song “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”
Those pictures of tropical vacations and renovated houses often look fabulous. But are they really?
When people take pictures, they choose to photograph certain subjects while omitting others. After taking those photos, it’s easy to crop them, add filters and effects, and manipulate them in other ways. How do we know what we’re seeing is actually real?
Not only are people showing only selected parts of their lives, but those parts could be curated and manipulated. People might not be trying to lie but could be propping up their delicate egos. We don’t have to counter that fragility with our own.
“Perfect is the enemy of good.”Attributed to various people, including Voltaire
Even if a photo on social media is real, so what? Someone else’s perfect picture probably won’t have a dramatic long-term effect on our lives. It probably won’t have a great impact on the people who took the photo or even the people who appear in it.
Spending our lives trying to create such perfection can be harmful. It can lead to anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.
It’s also ultimately futile. Even if people achieve perfection, it’s a temporary status. It’s impossible to be perfect in all areas all the time.
Highlighting processes instead of finished products might be more worthwhile and useful. This can be especially useful if we’re including both good and bad things.
Rather than posting glossy photos of our newly renovated house, we might share pictures before, during, and after the project. This might spur discussion, suggestions, questions, and answers, sparking a real conversation instead of a hollow, temporary ego boost.
“Reach out. Reach out and touch someone.”Advertising slogan
Speaking of conversations, are certain people’s posts continuing to bother you? Consider contacting these people and arranging to see them in person.
Face-to-face meetings give people opportunities to engage in more thorough discussions than brief posts will allow. People can learn about the triumphs that prompted such posts as well as the heartache not mentioned.
Interaction occupies people. It gives them chances to act and react in real-time.
Posting something might boost the ego temporarily, but it can provide a distorted view. Ruminating on this post might hurt others’ egos even more. But if people meet in person, they’re busy socializing and can ask for explanations if they’re confused, angry, or experiencing other emotions.
Meeting with people also boosts our moods and our mental health, while isolation can harm it. Just be sure to meet safely and follow any pandemic-related guidelines. Your physical health is important too.
“It’s sad, but sometimes, moving on with the rest of your life starts with goodbye.”Hillary Lindsey and Angelo Petraglia – From the song “Starts with Goodbye”
Finally, if posting on and following social media are still boosting or hurting our egos, we can always opt-out.
If we need to be on social media for work-related issues, we can create professional accounts and delete our personal ones. We can distance ourselves from social media by taking technology breaks for scheduled periods of time, or we might block posts from specific people.
Toxic positivity – the idea that we can automatically use positivity to eliminate negativity from our lives – can be just as harmful as other types of toxicity. Everything doesn’t happen for a reason. Sometimes, things happen for no reason at all. Sometimes they just plain stink.
In these instances, it’s not helpful to tell others to embrace positive vibes or count their blessings. If people aren’t supporting us during tough times and are actively making those times worse, we should feel free to limit or end contact. Others should be able to do the same.
Conclusion: How to Drop Your Ego
Ultimately, how we feel about ourselves is more important than what others think. When we consider new perspectives and take steps to preserve our mental health, we can free ourselves from ego and any unhelpful perceptions of ourselves and others.
About the author: Pamela Zuber is a writer and editor with Lincoln Recovery who is interested in mental health, medicine, science, human rights, gender issues, and other topics.
Interesting Facts about the Ego
What does ego mean?
Ego literally means “I” in Latin, and refers to a person’s sense of self. In other words, your ego is the conscious part of your personality: how you see yourself, what you feel like being your identity, including concepts like: self-esteem, self-awareness, self-confidence, self-importance, and self-image.
What is the opposite of ego?
If we interpret ego as high self-esteem or pride, then the opposite would be humility or modesty. But if we interpret ego as self-centredness or egocentrism, then the opposite would be altruism or empathy.
What is a person without an ego?
A person without ego, or that go rid of the illusion of self, would be very close to enlightenment from a Buddhist point of view but also very close to becoming mentally ill from a psychological perspective. Without conscience of self we would become unable to mediate between our conscious and unconscious mind. This mental chaos would at least lead to a nervous breakdown.
What does it mean to let go of your ego?
Letting go of your ego means to stop being self-centred, and become a humble, emphatic member of your community that finds happiness seeing himself mainly as an extension of “us”.
Can you live without an ego?
You can live without ego as a concept, or without the illusion of self, but we can’t get rid of the rational part of our personality because we would lose the ability to auto-regulate and go insane.
Can you live without an ego?
You can live without ego, or without the illusion of self as a fixed concept in time, but we can’t get rid of the rational part of our personality because we would lose the ability to auto-regulate and go insane.
How do I put my ego aside at work?
How do I put my ego aside at work? If you want to put your ego aside, you first have to know that it’s mainly insecurity and fear that drive your ego. Don’t be scared to be wrong, and put yourself in others’ shoes before judging. You will be a far more appreciated member of the team if you accept being wrong sometimes and learn from your errors in order to become the best version of yourself, than if you are a self-centred individual that always points to someone else when things go wrong. If this is difficult for you, just think that after all your work doesn’t define you as a person. It’s just a small part of who you are.
lincolnrecovery.com – What Happens in Rehab?
multimedia.journalism.berkeley.edu – Photoshop
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – Your Best Life: Perfectionism – The Bane of Happiness
rightasrain.uwmedicine.org – What You Need to Know About Toxic Positivity
sciencedirect.com: Ego Psychology – An Overview
livescience.com: Is Your Self Just An Illusion