Learn To Let Kindness Quell Your Joy Riding Ego
If you aren't careful your ego will drive your mind
I know life isn’t linear; I don’t expect it to be. But nor do I expect my own chart of growth to resemble the patterns of a spider, dipped in ink, break dancing on a piece of paper.
Last year I faced the challenge of overcoming one of the most ferocious battles we are all likely to experience in our lives. A battle with the ego.
The ego has many different guises. I like to think of it as the way in which we view ourselves. While I have never considered myself egotistical, I recognise past lifestyle patterns have played to my ego and fed into an inflamed perception of myself.
If we remove our spine, does our body blob to the ground?
What happens when everything we hook our feelings of worthiness onto falls away? Who are we when we take away titles that once formed the skeleton of our life? I learned a stark lesson when I could no longer introduce myself as a business owner, crime-fighting and life-saving detective, chairperson of a successful community, and social convener.
I learned to see myself naked, exposed, and vulnerable. And to accept me for who I was, not what I was.
Almost three years ago, I took a career break, sunset my business, stood down from my community duties, then moved to another country with no friends in sight. By this very action, I stripped away all the external factors which once fuelled my sense of self. Oh yeah, and I did all this during a global pandemic.
I am still the same person. But for a long time, I felt like a stranger to myself. This new sense of unfamiliarity brought inner spasms of discomfort and worthlessness. A withdrawal process from a previous life.
Hi, my name is Ali, and at the age of 39, I stripped my life bare. It is only now, almost three years later, with the power of hindsight and the privilege of time, that I’ve learned to recognise my metamorphosis.
I wonder if you have experienced anything similar? How did your ego react? I want to share a little story about overcoming my jittery ego.
Exposed and vulnerable
It took time to reevaluate my sense of self, who I was, and perhaps most importantly, who I wanted to be.
With my life changes, I can no longer captivate strangers with a grand introduction to the excitement of my life. I can no longer meet curious questions with an impressive justification of my role as a very “important” and “worthy” human being.
So who is this body I control? Who is this mind I commandeer?
Well, I may not have all my old roles to rely on, but I am still kind. I still have a curious mind and a strong heart. I still have a silly sense of humor, a love for animals, and a strong sense of justice. I still speak up for the voiceless. I still call out sexism and racism and all the horrible isms there are out there.
I am still me.
The position I found myself in was bursting with privilege and opportunity. I was given a golden egg to change the course of my life. I could look into my soul and overhaul things or make small tweaks. Choice is empowering!
As part of my new growth, I studied, read with hunger, engaged with a therapist, reflected, and tried new things. I created an online community to help other childfree by choice people feel seen.
Perhaps most importantly, my writing wings started to grow. And what a feeling it is to feel myself take flight.
During the particularly hazy stage of my move, fate played a hand in many job application rejections. I applied for a role I could have done when I was 16 years old. I remind myself I don’t need this job, I have choices and options, and if I struggle with it, I can leave.
And herein lies the biggest challenge.
The job itself was not difficult, and I am not too good for any job. Yet my ego can’t help but notice I’m more qualified than my line manager. I’m more qualified than my line manager’s manager. And my line manager’s manager’s manager. And in fact most likely the next line manager up as well. Damn ego, shush!
For the first 10 shifts, I can hear my ego chattering away to me. Telling me I am wasting away in this role. Mocking me that I am doing a job beneath me. Instilling a fear of dumbing down.
My ego shames me!
I try to respond to my ego by pointing out all the benefits of this role. Heck, at least the risk of death is not even a factor. I have predictable working hours and minimum stress. No thinking about work outside of work. No staying up late into the night, working on my own website. But the ego is not convinced and keeps up its inane monologue.
With each new shift, a sense of dread comes over me. But I puff up my chest and get on with things.
Nothing is Beneath Me
Let me be clear. I am not above any role. I am not too good for any job. None of us are. And while I know this logically, my ego struggled to adjust.
Every day, I told my ego to relax and reassured it. This role certainly wasn’t forever. I saw it as a springboard into a different life stage.
Yet despite this, the chattering from my ego was relentless. Until one day, I outsmart it.
Use kindness to conquer the ego
I challenged my ego to ensure every customer it interacted with felt energized and full of warm fuzzies. I create a new job description. To be the kindest, most patient, and most helpful staff member. To connect with every human being, colleague, or customer with smiling eyes (pandemic masks!), a genuine greeting, and the gift of unhurried time.
Well, did this shut my ego up!
My ego changed its attitude and suddenly dragged me into what it used to perceive as a hellhole. It chalked up each beautiful human interaction and made notes on ways to improve its level of kindness for future shifts.
Don’t be a Self-Absorbed Asshole
“Only a self-absorbed asshole thinks they are too good for whatever their current station requires” — Ryan Holiday
In The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday, he says we owe it to ourselves to make sure we do well in anything we do.
“We will be and do many things in our lives. Some are prestigious, some are onerous, none are beneath us. To whatever we face, our job is to respond with hard work, honesty and helping others as best we can.” — Ryan Holiday
His words helped me push my ego away from the steering wheel and take control of my attitude.
Regardless of what you are doing, do it to the best of your ability. Do it with pride and passion. Strive to be the best you can possibly be in every situation. Do not allow your ego to taint your perspective or accept any substandard performance from yourself.
Whether I am running my own business, investigating murders, or doing a job I could have done when I was 16 years old, I put the same energy, effort, and work ethic in. Are you able to honour yourself and do the same?
Life goes full circle. Until we learn to climb ladders and slide down snakes with consistent humility and kindness, both to ourselves and those around us, we will forever be at the mercy of our ego.
How does your ego interfere with your life? What tricks do you use to overcome it? I’d love to hear your input in the comments.
Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this piece, please share it with a friend and give us some love on our socials.
Connect with Abnormally Normal on Twitter & Instagram.
Abnormally Normal is for everyone who feels like they don’t fit in.
“I am still me.” Ali 10 simple letters put into such a powerful and base statement that becomes so liberating.
I have had may life torn down to it’s base through homelessness, grief, divorce, and loss of all possessions. Yet each time I have come to love and connect to me more.
That is a great line.