Finding inner peace to alleviate self-doubt
The ego is a much talked about but often misunderstood part of our makeup.
The ‘little voice’ inside our head seems innocent enough, but with the pressure and stress of modern life, it can quickly become a constant source of anxiety, judgement and fear.
But the good news is that it doesn’t need to control us. Instead, the ego can be a powerful tool for change and growth, while still allowing us to be empathetic, peaceful and happy humans.
From gratitude to mindfulness, there are plenty of beautiful practices that can help us to let go of a big ‘sense of self’, but it’s important to understand just what it is, and how it impacts us on a daily level.
The Freudian definition of ego
A lot has been said about some of the more controversial work of academic and neurologist Sigmund Freud, but his work into the ego still continues to be well regarded and referenced by the academic world of modern psychology. According to Freud, the ego is a part of the human psyche that is conscious, typically dictating what a person thinks about themselves and the way they project this to others. It sits alongside our ‘id’ and ‘superego’, working to balance our most primal needs (the id) and our learned moral behaviours (the superego).
These personality traits usually form in early childhood or young adulthood, and the ego goes on to consciously consider our reality and social norms, helping us to decide how to behave.
But in modern life, we tend to hold ourselves to increasingly high standards. This way of thinking can cause the ego to inspire self-judgement, fear and the judgement of others. Of course, this is normal to some extent (it enables us to grow), but when things get out of hand, it can have a negative impact on our mental health and overall quality of life.
An ally instead of an enemy
The ego is a necessary trait to keep us alert and help us to grow, but it can very easily interfere with our daily lives.
Consider some of your anxieties: ‘what if I don’t score the promotion?’, ‘what if they hate me?’ or ‘why did I say that thing five years ago?’ These scenarios might not actually exist in the present moment, but our ego can cause us to worry about them regardless, even if there’s nothing to gain by doing so.
A big ego can also cause us to force these judgements onto others, which is usually not beneficial for us, or the other person.
So how do we break these patterns? With dedication and mindful practice, it is possible to let go of these egotistical traits and channel the energy in a more positive way instead.
Let go of perfection
Practising mindfulness is a simple but enriching way to help you remain calm, especially in busy or stressful periods. Try integrating Briony's 10-minute Grounding Meditation on endota Retreat into your routine, and arm yourself with a few breathing exercises to try next time you notice your heart rate rising.
Movement as therapy
If you continuously hold yourself and others to impossible standards, emotions like disappointment, disgust and guilt are unavoidable. Try to let go of the idea of perfection, and continuously remind yourself that mistakes will happen from time to time, but that’s OK.
Such situations are also best dealt with when they arise, before allowing yourself to move on.
Try to limit complaining
The ego loves negativity, so next time you feel like mindlessly complaining, take a deep breath and try to shift the thought pattern to something positive.
And while we acknowledge that sometimes a whinge is warranted, distracting the thought with something that makes you smile or feel good can be far more beneficial.
On that note, regularly practising morning gratitude is proven to benefit our physical and emotional health. Try incorporating daily practices, such as journaling into your routine.
Regularly incorporating mindfulness rituals into your day is another easy but transformative way to improve stress levels, regulate emotions and process the day’s events.
The endota Retreat program contains countless guided meditations and breathwork exercises that range from a few minutes to an hour, such as the 10 minute Mindfulness Meditation with Briony. There are also restorative yoga flows if you want to experience mindful movement, too.
Want to explore more ways to free your mind and instil some inner peace? Read our blog on the benefits of gratitude right here.
SOURCE: McLeod, S. A. (2019, September 25).Id, ego and superego. Simply Psychology. www.simplypsychology.org/psyche.html