Ego is defined as “a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance.” It’s “the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.” While having a high self-esteem may seem beneficial, we have to limit our internal perception of self-importance.
It is often said that self-esteem comes from esteemable acts. This means we gain our self-worth by making good, value based choices. When we let a car in front of us on the freeway, our self-esteem may grow as we recognize our kindness. When we return extra change given to us by a clerk, we may honor our honesty. When we put in extra hours at work to complete a project, we may feel good about our work ethic.
The problem arises when our level of self-importance is inflated. If we feel we are somehow more valuable or more important that another living being, we may make choices that reflect that. This level of self-importance can lead to undue stress, pressure, and overall bad decisions. We make choices to make ourselves look good, rather than because it feels right, we are embarking on a dangerous road.
Young children are great examples of having egos that are in check. They are resilient. When learning to walk, they fall down and get right back up. They are not trapped by a fear of failure. They are not focused on the other child that is already walking. They simply take one step at a time and keep going as they learn.
Children are also honest. Their egos don’t get in the way of speaking the truth. They share what they feel, think, and they live in the present moment. Ask a child for their opinion on your new haircut and you’ll get an honest answer. Notice children aren’t holding resentments about yesterday. They are fully present in the now.
At some point our egos kick in and we are suddenly concerned with what others think about us. We may stop answering honestly or sharing our full selves for fear of how others may respond. We lose our way. We create the illusion that if we can control our situations and what others think of us, then we are safe.
If we limit our ego, we expand our possibilities. There will always be someone smarter, faster, and richer. When we measure our self-worth based on our comparisons to others, we always lose. When we can be driven by internal motivation, we find the path to joy and success.
Addiction affects the whole family.
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