Ego is a powerful thing. It often acts like a backseat driver to a lot of the decisions we make. Once we perceive a threat to our ego, justified or not, our emotions hijack the show. All ability to rationalise goes out the window and we revert to our caveman days. This happens to me all the time. I’d say that I’m a logical person. At heart, I love solving problems so I’m generally good at advising people. Following that advice when the exact situation applies to me is a completely different story. I allow my ego and emotions to get in the way at critical decision moments. It has happened to me so many times that I’ve lost count. Every single time, I’ve looked back and identified the exact moment where if I had taken a different path, I might have had a more positive outcome. So, I’m going to share my experiences in these situations, analyzing how to avoid the same pitfalls in the future.
When situations get heated, it’s often hard to take a breather to cool down and assess. I found myself in this situation when engaged in a dispute with one of my ex-partners. See, we had agreed to spend a Saturday evening together earlier that week. We both had busy lives, so I cherished the quality time we got to have with each other. This was especially the case for that upcoming weekend, as we had cancelled a previous date night due to her being ill. I planned an evening filled with wines, games, etc, and was excitedly looking forward to it. About an hour before she was expected to arrive, I received a text from her. ‘I’m going to have to do some work for a bit when I get to yours, just giving a heads up’. When I read those words, a range of negative thoughts filled my head. How could she do this to me? Doesn’t she want to spend this time together? Am I not enough for her? Filled with anxiety, I called. This was the moment. This was when I should have taken a minute to collect myself. However, I was too heated, I needed to let it out. I reminded her, in a passive-aggressive way, of our numerous talks about work-life balance. I took her wanting to work at my place as a personal attack on my ego, and I was going to let her know that. The argument got out of hand and eventually, we decided it best to continue the conversation face-to-face.
When she arrived, tension filled the air. Neither of us willing to initiate the conversation. I was just about to start when she burst into tears. I was incredibly confused. I was the one who was hurt. Why is she crying? It was then that she let me know the reason for her needing to work. She had been ill again for most of the morning and couldn’t finish work in time. The meeting she intended to have was only to last 10 minutes and instead of delaying her arrival, she thought it best to do it at my place. This was when it hit me. I realised that the situation originally had nothing to do with me. I had injected myself into it solely because of my ego. If I used that moment before the call, to collect my thoughts, I would have been in a more receptive mood to hear her out. If I didn’t get my ego involved, we would have had a wonderful evening. I learnt a valuable lesson that day. Before you get emotional about an interaction, put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Do they have a valid reason for their behaviour? Is it possible that you’re over-reacting? Are you actually in the wrong? These are all questions that need to be answered.
Let’s look at another example where patience would have come in handy. Last year, I had to give a presentation at a research summer school. Undoubtedly, I was nervous. It was my first conference, in a different country, by myself. I had practiced constantly for weeks beforehand so I believed that I was ready. This was not the case. Midway through the presentation, I froze. Everything went blank and I could not put together a coherent sentence. I stood there, embarrassed until my time slot was over, and I took my seat. This was the moment. At this exact time, I should have understood that failure is a part of life, that these things happen. I should have accepted the experience and moved on. Instead, I was filled with self-pity. I am worthless. I just wasted my time and everyone else’s. Why am I even here? For the rest of that conference, I was completely walled in. I spoke to no one. Learned nothing. There were hundreds of top-level researchers present. This was my chance to hear them speak, to ask questions, to become a better researcher. However, my bruised ego didn’t allow any of this. Another valuable lesson learned. If you fail, it’s okay. You will fail many times. What’s important is what is learned from failure. I talk about this in my previous blog post (https://thebeautyinbeinginsignificant.com/fear-of-failure-why-do-i-even-bother-to-try/).
Now, instead of looking at times where I made the wrong choice. I’m going to share a recent experience where I made the right choice. The first lockdown earlier this year was rough. At that point in my life, I thought I was mentally tough. Nothing could break me. But during that period of isolation, my mental health took a massive hit. 2 weeks ago, another lockdown was announced. I found my ego acting up again. I survived the first, I can take another. It’s just a month, it’ll be no big deal. In an instant, I had forgotten all the pain and hurt that plagued me in the months earlier. This was the moment. This was when I decided that my ego was, indeed, my enemy. I had to be honest with myself. I was terrified and needed to make a plan. I was not going to go into Lockdown 2.0 blind and unprepared. I made a list of things that helped me during the first lockdown. Activities that saved me during my darkest moments, and I made a promise to myself to do them every day. As much as I’d like to be, I’m not the protagonist of a movie, I’m only human. I’m going to struggle and so I need as much help as possible. Once I accepted this, throwing away my ego, I was ready to take on the lockdown.
Next time you’re at a critical junction in your life. I want you to think of the phrase ‘Respond, not react’. Don’t let your ego allow you to get overly emotional, to prevent you from looking at situations objectively. Your emotions are a powerful ally but do not allow yourself to become overwhelmed by them. This is the single best piece of advice, that I’ve received. It has allowed me to make better life choices. I still have slip-ups but I’m able to course correct quicker than ever. Forsake your ego, it’s not worth it.
What critical situations have you found yourself in? Did you take the right path or did your let your ego win? Share your story in the comments below.
2 Replies to “Is Your Ego Getting In The Way Of Your Personal Growth?”
This post is very amazing and useful for every person. It is very motivated. Moreover, it allows to learn out more about yourself, to discover your deep personality 🥰🥰🥰like this post and advice reading it for everyone😍💞💞😇🤗🤗🤗🤗
Thank you! I really do appreciate it. I believe that the more honest we are with ourselves about our own ego, the better decisions we can make in daily life.