Contrary to popular belief, the ego is actually a very sensitive part of our psyche. It is, essentially, who we believe ourselves to be. When our egos are hurt or threatened, we tend to lash out defensively.
Needless to say, this deeply-rooted (and often delusional) aspect can create a huge rift in our relationships. Notice the signs, see if they resonate, and consider applying an ego fix.
1. Looking Out for #1
Self-absorption has no room in a relationship. Or, rather, there’s no room for a relationship when one partner is chronically self-involved.
If you find that you put yourself before your partner, obsess over your own needs, and typically fall into one-sided conversations, it’s likely that ego is running the show. Before it ruins the show completely, though, take a stab at bringing some balance into your relationships. It’s all about the three Cs – care, cohabit, and cooperate. One is the loneliest number, so ditch the ego and welcome in more digits.
2. The Outer Critic
The ego is like a one-man critic that’s constantly interjecting its opinion, whether we want to hear it or not. What’s worse, this inner critic swiftly becomes an outer commentator – we start to believe its spiel, then preach it to everyone around us who doesn’t measure up. Instead of “I’m not good at xyz,” the story swiftly becomes “You’re not good at xyz.”
You can quiet this persistent critic by listening to it, understanding that these thoughts/words come from a place of insecurity, and shifting from criticism to compassion.
3. Everything’s a Competition
Healthy competition is great, and can even better our relationships by adding some play and camaraderie to our lives, but a little can go a long way. We all have that friend who’s always in “fight me” mode (the one nobody will play with!).
Don’t be that friend. The ego’s obsession with being king of the hill can make you trample plenty of good relationships, so play nice and keep things light.
4. Pride Goeth Before the Fall
Ah, pride. Too little of it can dash our self-esteem, and too much of it can render us arrogant. An ego stroke may feel awesome, but beware the repercussions of placing too much importance on, well, self-importance.
It’s tough to find a happy medium when ego is in charge. However, once you accept the fact that you are far more than your material possessions, your accomplishments, or your endowments, you can begin to relax into an honest, quiet dignity that inspires those around you to walk with their heads a bit higher, too.
5. Pointing Fingers
Those who are quick to point fingers at their partners or friends are often the ones to blame. But when your ego claims that everyone is wrong but you, it’s admittedly hard not to pass the buck.
Take responsibility and recognize when you’re jumping to accusations without first reflecting on the situation. Make an effort to understand a situation and explore all facets of it before pulling the trigger. There are no winners in the blame game (see #3).
6. If You Can’t Love Yourself…
Everything comes down to love; self-love, in particular, is the cornerstone of our relationships with others. A lack of it leads to feelings of rejection and unworthiness, which can in turn lead to possessiveness of our partners and unhealthy attachments in our relationships. In addition, when we can’t express self-love, we tend to take on the ego’s favorite show-stopping role – that of the martyr.
“All you need is love” may be an overstatement, but it holds a universal truth. Love is the key to overcoming self-limiting ego beliefs. If you find that your relationships are faltering, try starting with your relationship to self; not ego, but your true self. The undying, eternal essence of your being.
The idea isn’t to remove the ego (it’s an inherent part of you, like it or not). Simply strive to understand it, explore it with childlike curiosity, and transcend the aspects of it that limit your growth and hinder your relationships.
Image credit: Paige Rene