I remember the first time I realized that I had an “ego” problem. I was at a school board meeting for my nephew’s school. His school is not the greatest. In fact, the school board was planning on closing its doors, but decided to keep it open at the last minute. They held an information session for interested parties, and I attended. There were only two attendees…me and my mother. I usually don’t ask too many questions at events like this, but I felt obligated since we were the only two people in the room. I had on my University of Maryland sweatshirt, and my locs were back in a ponytail. Because this is an inner-city school, I assumed that the board members felt that we were probably uneducated and poor. I wanted to prove otherwise. So, I asked a lot of questions and used a lot of big words, and when I left I felt dumber than when I entered the room. In that moment, my intention had shifted from gathering and sharing information about the school, to proving to other intelligent people, that I was also an intelligent person. I don’t know if I sounded pompous to the other people in the room, but when I got back in the car, I realized that I didn’t like how I presented myself in that moment. I thought about other moments where I felt like I had to prove myself to someone. I now recognize this behavior as ego. I never considered myself to be an egotistical person, but I now realize that my ego might be causing me problems.
For instance, I’m currently self-employed. I spend most of my time working from home. Many of my friends and family, don’t consider this to be “real work.” It doesn’t matter that I make more money now, then I ever have, that I’m finally debt free, and I just bought a new house. All they know, is that I don’t have a 9 to 5, so I must be a housewife. This mentality from others, pulls at my ego strings. And because of this fact, when I meet someone new, I immediately want to start providing them with my credentials. I want people to know that I’m not just another black girl from the hood; as if to say don’t let these dreads and tattoos fool you. But the problem is, I probably come off as pompous, and that’s not the real me.
Whenever you notice something within yourself, sometimes you start to notice those same patterns in others. I’ve noticed that a lot of us maybe allowing our egos to get us into trouble, but just in different ways.
Some people allow their egos to get them into financial trouble. They refuse to be seen in anything less than the best. Therefore, they go out and buy cars they can’t afford, and clothes they have to charge just to impress people they barely know or like. It doesn’t matter that they’re in dire financial straits, have no savings, debt up to their elbows, and living paycheck to paycheck. Their wants have hijacked their common sense. This is ego. When our ego wants to be stroked, we like to think back on all the nice things we have afforded ourselves; we like it when people assume we have a lot of money; we want others to think we have it all together. We’re feeding our ego, which only makes our ego bigger.
Some people get their ego fix by making themselves the center of attention. These are the people that stand beside you and talk extra loud on their cells phones. They want everyone to hear their conversation. These are the people that volunteer to get up on stage at every event, they dance the hardest at every party, and may even wear the flashiest or sexiest outfit. There are a few people like this at my church. They love to be in the spotlight; they shout the loudest and sing over everyone else. And then there’s Ms. Cookie. Ms. Cookie is on the choir, and when it comes time for the choir to march down the aisle, Ms. Cookie is always last. She’s last because rather than follow the same march down the aisle as the other choir members, Ms. Cookie created her own march complete with a sway and a shimmy. None of the other choir members wanted to be behind Ms. Cookie when that booty gets to moving, so they all decided to put her in the back. The Pastor addressed the spectacle one Sunday morning saying, we should all remember that church isn’t a place where we should strive for our own personal glory, but instead do all things for the glory of GOD. Well, I guess Ms. Cookie missed the message, because every Sunday, she’s still shaking that rump down the center aisle.
Ego has shown up in young women who are risking their lives, getting non-qualified “doctors” to inject unknown substances into their body to have bigger butts and bigger hips. Women have died in the pursuit of beauty when their ego won’t submit.
Ego is how fights break out in public, people feel like they’ve been “disrespected” for one reason or another. Small misunderstandings turn into huge arguments. No one wants to be weak, everyone wants to dominate. Afterward, you sit and stew over what you should have said or did to really get your point across. This too is your ego.
In studying mindfulness, I’m learning how focusing on the present moment, can take the attention away from our egotistical selves, and we become free to just exist as we are; without needing to impress others, without caring what other think of us, without feeling the need to prove ourselves for any reason. Pure freedom. There is “no need to be imprisoned by our individual identity,” says Mike Medalgia, author of One Year Wiser: An Illustrated Guide to Mindfulness. Medalgia says, when “we spend so much time defining and indulging our ego, … we miss the experience of life.” He suggests that we watch out for “ego flares,” moments when we are stuck in our thoughts, worrying about the future, lamenting over the past, tormenting over what people are thinking or saying about you, grasping for the attention of others, considering what you will buy next or eat next or go next. When these moments arise, lovingly and kindly, label them as ego flares. Acknowledge that your ego is trying to get you into trouble. It’s attempting to act up and show out. Then, with complete love and compassion for yourself, return your thoughts on the present moment and experience complete inner peace.
Has your ego ever gotten you into trouble? If so in what ways? Comment and Subscribe.
Until Next Time,