Confidence is a good thing.

Confidence involves believing in ourselves and having faith in our abilities.

So, ego is a good thing, right?

Not so fast, writes Cy Wakeman in her terrific book No Ego.

Confidence and ego are not the same thing.

Ego operates out of self-interest.  It seeks approval, accolades, and validation. Ego wants to be seen as “right” at all costs. 

When ego takes over, bad behavior typically ensues, Cy tells us. We adopt a self-righteous attitude.  We judge others.

We’re convinced we are right, better than others, and people should always listen to us. 

Or, we’re misunderstood, helpless, and a victim of circumstances.

In both cases, ego generates emotional waste. 

“The ego is the source of all suffering,” is written on the wall of a well-known Buddhist temple. 

Ego acts as a lens to distort reality to protect us from pain, Cy writes.  Instead of looking inward for the true source of suffering, ego looks outward, eager to find someone or something to blame when we don’t get what we want.

Signs that ego is in the driver’s seat?

When blaming, defensiveness, victim-thinking, resistance to change, catastrophizing, and assigning negative motives rule the day. 

Ego creates stories which let us off the hook, make us feel safe, allow ourselves to look good, or excuse our lack of action.  Ego works to filter out life’s valuable lessons. 

The greatest danger?

When ego becomes our default state of mind.

“Your ego is not your amigo,” Cy writes. 

Reality, on the other hand, is our friend.  Our pal who gives it to us straight.

More tomorrow.


Reflection:  Think back on a recent situation where things did not go well.  Did my ego play a role?

Action:  Ask myself today:  What story am I telling myself?  How accurate is this story?

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