Benjamin Franklin once said, “There are three things extremely hard. Steel, a diamond, and to know ones self.”
We think we ARE the labels we hold, but we are not. We are so much more than that. I believe it is important to understand that we are all apart of a much greater force that is unseen to the eye. This life, this personality, this person that you are is just a drop in the ocean. We have lived many lives, learned many lessons, and have overcome many obstacles.
We limit ourselves to the smallest portion of what we can accomplish.
I can’t work out, I don’t have time.
I can’t get that job, I’m not qualified.
I can’t date that person, they are out my league.
The truth is, our potential far greater than we give ourselves credit for. If you stay within the ego-ic mind, with labels, negativity and fear; you are limiting your potential to just that. When you broaden your horizon and expand your consciousness, you allow more positive to come in. The ego creates barriers within our human experience that only allow us to go so far. It is a built in safety net. Some may say that a safety net is required, and that is true for someone who wants to stay within the confines of the go. But for those who want to fly, the safety net is a trapping mechanism that keeps you from manifesting your highest potential.
As much as I love the Queen B, her hit single “ego” got the concept and definition of ego totally wrong. When we think ego, we think arrogance. We think of some of some pompous, insensitive prick whose biceps are bigger than his brains.
But let us REALLY understand the ego and the power it holds, shall we?
What is the ego?
The ego is a collection of ideas we carry around.
I am what I have
I am what I do
I am my reputation
I am separate from everybody else
I am separate from god
“Ego” is the aspects of your yourself that you consider to be “you.” A perfect example of this is a brief self-inquiry assessment.
Who are you?I’m Erica.
Who is Erica?Erica is a female, she is a wife, and she is a mother.
Did Erica exist before she become a wife and mother? Well.. Yes.
So then who were you before you were a wife and mother?I was Erica.
Who is Erica?She is me.
Who is me?I’m Erica. I am me.
Well, that cannot be, because I am ME too.
Are we both ME?Well you are me for you and I am me for me.
Who is me?I am me.
Well, I am ME too.
But you are not me.
Yes, I am. I am ME.
But if you are ME, than who am I?
Every single answer to those questions was answered from an ego standpoint. We have been programmed to listen to our ego. Every single person has some form of an ego. Some more than others. The people are who more attached to one or more of the ideas that the ego is made up of could be called “an egomaniac.”
Now that we know what EGO is - the question is, how do we deal with it? How do we put it in it place? How do we not be controlled by it?
Before we even dive into this, I want to point out that our ego will always be a part of us. It will always be the annoying and negative self talk that tries to keep us small and afraid of shining our light. The only way to fully get rid of ego is become enlightened, which is pretty hard to attain. If you are curious about what enlightenment looks like, take a look at Eckhart Tolle or Adyashanti.
THREE TOOLS TO HELP YOU KEEP YOUR EGO IN CHECK:
1) BECOME THE OBSERVER
Once you understand that your worst enemy is yourself (ego), you start to understand just how powerful your negative thoughts can be on your perception of yourself and in your overall life.
How do we take our power back? How do we stop allowing the ego to control our lives? The answer is simple; we become the observer.
Let’s think of it this way:
There is a car. The car is you. It doesn’t matter what kind of car it is. It can be whatever type of car you want it to be.
In this car, there is a driver & a passenger.
The driver spends his or her energy driving the vehicle. Being fully aware of traffic signs, the other cars around them, construction on the road, traffic. The driver being the responsible party is going to get annoyed. They are going to feel the frustration of having to deal with reckless drivers, traffic, construction, check points. Let’s label these scenarios as “thoughts.” It doesn’t matter, if they are positive or negative thoughts.
The driver of the vehicle is going to have a front row seat to everything happening around the vehicle. When there is a traffic jam, they are the ones feeling the disappointment and agitation. If they get a ticket from a police officer, they are the ones that feel the negative emotion with that. We feel the thoughts we think.
Now, let us take a different approach to this. Let’s say, we take our selves out of the driver seat and into the passenger side. We are still in the same vehicle, we still have the same destination, but instead of being the driver – we become the observer. As the observer, we are able to see a totally different perspective of the situation. We are able to observe the instances and obstacles along the car ride without situations taking a toll on our mental state. If there is traffic, we might a become irritated but we can quickly snap out of that negative stream of thought because instead of living our thoughts, we are simply just observing them.
When we become the observer, we are able to consciously notice any positive or negative spikes in our mental and emotional state. We can understand exactly what are our triggers are and instead of allowing these triggers to bring you on a negative spiral, we, the observer, have the power to let go of any negative feelings or thoughts that come into our conscious mind.
Through my life, I never considered myself an “anxious” person. I never had crippling anxiety to the point where my life had to be put on hold. Of course, being a human being, I did encounter times within my life when I became effected by situations and circumstances where anxiety would pop it’s nasty little head in but I would not say I suffered from it.
It was not until I got out of the drivers seat of my mind and placed myself into the passenger seat that I had a front row center view of just how much worry and anxiety were key players in my everyday life. The first day I become the passenger of my life was the day I was able to fully witness my thought patterns and their effects and how they brought no value to my life. I observed one negative thought turn into 2 negative thoughts, than to 3, than it turned into a morning filled with a downward negative thought spiral. I quickly noticed how easy just ONE negative thought could ruin one day. Could you imagine the power that all your negative thoughts combined can have on your life?
Go to your calendar and choose one day. Circle it, put a star in it, set a reminder on your phone. I want you to fully commit to being the observer of your thoughts that whole day. Have a notebook or journal handy throughout your day.
Wake up 15 minutes early and find a relaxing, comfortable place to sit and quiet your mind for 15 minutes. Close your eyes, and just let yourself be still. Meditation is not about silencing the mind; it’s about quieting it. If a thought comes in, simply observe and it and let it pass. Gently bringing yourself back to your breath. After this 15-minute meditation, write down how you feel. Do you feel different from other mornings? Do you feel different from last night? Whatever you are feeling, good or bad, write it down.
Now, go about your normal day. Have breakfast, take a shower, drink your coffee, whatever it is you usually do. Remember, we are observing our behavior and thought patterns today – not living them. Think of yourself as a ‘Do It Yourself Mindful Super Nanny.’
WRITE IT DOWN
Every hour, check in with yourself. Set a timer on your phone, write a note to yourself on your hand, whatever it is you need to do remember to take 1-3 minutes at the end of every hour to write down any beliefs or thought patterns you experienced in that last hour.
Did you become annoyed walking into your bathroom to have it be a total mess? Did you feel some judgment towards the woman news anchor whose outfit was not appropriate for daytime television? Did you become anxious and annoyed trying to get your children to the bus stop on time? Did getting stuck behind a slow driver get you irritated? It does not matter how big or small the circumstance is. Write it down. Use the below prototype when journaling:
What Emotions Did you feel?
How long did those emotions last?
It’s crucial to remember to check in with yourself every hour. We must be fully be aware of the emotions and thought patterns we come in contact with on a regular or semi regular basis in order to be able to transform our thought process and negative patterns.
Throughout your day, try and remind yourself that you are the observer, not the owner of your thoughts. With just this realization, you will feel better. Like most things in life, we have to remind ourselves when a change occurs. How many times have you caught yourself dialing an ex, not cause you are lonely and wanting to rekindle the romance, but because it’s out of pure habit? How many times have you forgotten your reusable bags in the trunk of your car and only realizing it until your shopping cart is half way filled?
It takes conscious effort to try a different approach. It takes commitment and sacrifice in order to make any type of change. There will be times throughout this exercise that you forget you are the observer. You will get sidetracked from this action and become your thoughts. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Just simply put yourself back into the passenger seat.
At the end of the day, sit and down and reflect on your day of observation. Go through your journal. What occurrences stood out? How many times within the day did you feel a certain emotion? Was there an underlying emotion for a big portion of the day because of an event that occurred?
Don’t judge yourself upon the results of this exercise. The human experience is made up of thousands of different moods, feelings and emotions. Becoming the observer gives us a much different approach into analyzing our behaviors and our points of no return. This exercise allows us to pin point the thought patterns we want to change and what things we could have handled differently.
We have to make conscious evaluations and notice our triggers, thought patterns, and behaviors that create the energy flow within our lives.
2) NAME THAT BITCH
Start by giving your ego a name. It can be any name you want but please note you might end up saying the name out loud so be cautious of the words you use. Think of a name that irks you. Maybe a mean girl from high school, a frenemy, an ex-boyfriends’ new girlfriend, or just a name you never liked. My ego’s name is Felicia.
Now that you are acquainted with your ego on a name to name basis – it is easier to put her in check when she wants to voice her opinion.
When I started my writing journey, Felicia had a lot to say.
“You are wasting your time.”
“Nobody is going to take your seriously.”
“When will you have the time to write?!”
“You don’t have any credentials.”
She was relentless. She really thought she knew it all and her negativity was unbearable. There were times where I couldn’t stand being around her. Instead of letting her win, instead of giving her my power – I started to talk back.
Felicia – “you are never going to get”
Erica – “BYE FELICIA.”
Felicia – “that’s not a good hook.”
Erica – “BE QUIET FELICIA.”
Felicia – “this is wasted ener-“
Erica – “SHUT UP FELICIA.”
The more I stood up to her the better I felt.
The better I felt, the more confident I became.
The more confident I became, the clearer my vision was.
The more clear my vision became, the easier it was to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The more light I saw, the less powerful the ego became.
In the beginning of this new habit, I would speak the words out loud. Regardless of where I was, who I was with, and what I was doing. I did not allow my circumstances at the time to control my desire to write this book. My desire to help people was far greater than my ego’s desire to control. And that, is the difference between thinking and doing.
When we devalue our ego, the power it holds diminishes. It is no longer the big scary monster living in the closet, it is just an annoying, relentless, thing that pops its head out from time to time to voice their opinion.
3) SHIFT YOUR MINDSET
We live 100% of our lives through our heads. We better make it a nice place to be! Our beliefs, our worries, or patterns are all stored in our subconscious. Most of us, live our lives unaware of our negative thoughts and belief have actually been programmed within us from a very young age without us even knowing about it!
What is your belief around money? hard work? healthy relationships? Our beliefs have been put in us by OTHER peoples perceptions - not our own.
Mindset work allows us to get to the nitty gritty. It allows us to understand power of the subconscious and that we have the power to reprogram our life!
Go ahead and grab your journal:
1) What are your core beliefs around the following things: relationships, money, success.
2) What did your parents say abut these three things growing up?
3) Now CHANGE THESE BELIEFS. Instead of
'money is hard to come by' shift your belief to think
'money comes easily to me'
Instead of 'good men are hard to find' shift your belief to
'good men are all around me'
We take away a lot of the egos power when we decide to take control of OUR LIFE.
Share in the comments below some of the tools you use to take control of your life and take your power back from your ego!