Stay curious to quell the ego

Nova Davis
5 min readDec 11, 2020
Ego is about returning to your true self. You CAN co-exist

I cringe in conversation when I hear someone off cuff talking about ego and that the end goal is to get rid of it and not pay mind to the part that you actually can’t get rid of ego, you can however; soften it.

What exactly is ego?

The ego is the unconscious ‘I’ that identifies with how you see yourself.

Is it the ego that’s the problem or the image of identity of self. How do we measure our success, who do we see when we look in a mirror? what do we stand for? what are our goals and values? All of those answers and the picture that we paint of ourself and our identity is what the ego strives to protect and there begins the complexities or battle to which we simply say “that’s her ego talking”. Once that identity becomes threatened from an outside source, your ‘ego knight in shining armour ‘kicks in to defend what you identify yourself with.

Your ego is a very rigid identity. It has to be. It’s created a set of beliefs, patterns, and ideas, that most people label “personality.” Your ego is very defensive about your identity. Anything outside of those confirmed thoughts, beliefs, and behaviours will be rejected.

The ego is the master illusionist making us believe that we ARE our opinions and beliefs. Have you ever met someone who ‘stands strong, refuses to back down, pushes against fear of failure and refuses to give up time and time again’? Along with displaying strength in adversity, that’s also their ego kicking in to reiterate the image of self and ensure that any outside threats know that’s exactly who they are (it isn’t) and to protect them from being found out (the real person, good and bad).

Simply put, in a fragile state the ego will defend, defend, defend for survival.

Examples of an egos compensation to defend

Strong emotional reactivity

Are you easily triggered? Do you have many pain points that can lead to a disagreement, an argument, hurt feelings, and misunderstandings? The ego is always reactive in nature to protect the image you have of self which you so strongly identify with and fear of being debunked.

Black and white/rigid thinking

Are you absolutely unwavering or are you willing to listen to others ideas and opinions? Do you label things as right and wrong or are you a bit more curious and open minded than that? Your ego that is protecting your image will always seek to validate your beliefs, remember it’s there to protect this image you’ve created of self.

Rejection of any idea that conflicts with the ego beliefs

Are there patterns of broken connections in your life? workplace? family? Do you simply shut down a person or situation because they don’t agree or align with your value set. Do you identify with being someone who has strong beliefs in what is right and wrong? Are you able to value that not everyone will agree with you or do what you want them to and that’s okay?

Extreme competition (a belief that another person’s success hinders their own)

Does another persons perceived success, bravery, the way they look and dress make you feel threatened? Do you need to put others down in order to feel better? Have you ever found yourself scoffing at a hemline that’s “too short” or rolling your eyes at yet another post of positivity from a radiant being? Ego check: why does it bother you so much?

Judgement of others (mocking, insulting, threatening)

Ego is quick to judge and create a narrative. Is there something or someone in your life that you feel absolutely certain about without considering other perspectives or factors? Are you open, willing, and able to learn instead of judge? Can you imagine different possibilities in tough situations?

Analysis paralysis (obsessive thoughts that stop you from completing action or goals)

Very similar to perfectionism. Does your worry over how something will be perceived override your ability to get something done? Are you obsessing so much over a project that you end up packing it in?

So, what can you do about it? We have a mantra in our household of “stay curious” about thoughts, why you’re triggered, the other person and what they’re saying/doing, why they might triggered, how you contributed to that and about the ego separate from true self. Remain curious. The ego is a master story teller. It has thousand and thousand of emotional events and experiences logged that you can’t even consciously remember. This story serves to protect you, but it always keeps you tied to your past experiences.

Can we choose a different path? Yes, we can!

Ego is about returning to your true nature self.

You are not looking to “kill” the ego, or deny its existence. The ego is your protector and has been a part of your psyche since you were a small child to help you cope. You want to learn to accept your ego as something separate from yourself.

You are softening your ego…By doing this work, you give the your guard (ego) a break and allow for new experiences to come into your awareness.

Without a guard you can decide how you feel, what you think, and how you choose to respond rather than having your ego decide that for you.

Confidence is the result of detaching from your ego state.

Here are some prompts to walk you through an ego triggered state:

Here are the prompts:
1. I felt the emotion of _________ when triggered.
2. I felt the emotion of _________ when ______________________.
3. The event of _________ means ___________________ to me.

Here is an example:
I felt the emotion of anger when triggered.
I felt the emotion of anger when my husband left the dishes in the sink.
The event of leaving the dishes in the sink means that I am not worthy of consideration.

Ok, so now you understand that the objective reality was that dishes were left in the sink. This caused the emotion of anger because of an underlying belief that I am not worthy of consideration.

Here, the ego felt a core emotion (unworthiness.) This was painful, and since you’ve never learned to process emotion, the ego came to project it outwards. Your ego prefers to dump emotions on others, rather than feel a painful emotion within yourself.

Can you begin to use the above prompts in any area in your life? Would you like to try to separate self from ego but accept that you can co exist?

Here’s to growth towards your true, beautiful, spirit-filled soul.

Until next time,

ND

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Nova Davis

Registered Professional Counsellor, Executive Assistant 14 years, Coaching Certification