“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.” ~Lao Tzu (Tao Te Ching)
Easier said than done, right?
We all experience our own egos in mild to moderate doses every now and again (and for some, it’s a constant fighting battle that they’re not even aware of).
When will we actually get it through our heads that it’s okay to be who we are?
The Playing Field For Happiness and Sanity
I can only put this through via a personal encounter I had last week with my ego. It was a sneaky meeting, I didn’t even realize at the time that my ego had me by the short and curly’s.
I was having trouble with a computer-related work issue. Instead of asking for help, I tried to solve the problem when I was clearly not in the headspace or in the ‘know’ of how to fix the issue.
I squirmed and shifted in my seat whilst I allowed my temper to rise. I just couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel — the tunnel was sealed off and a huge concrete barrier had been erected to block my passage. The clock was ticking and I was working with a looming deadline.
I began to tear my hair out (literally, at this point, not merely figuratively) and started banging my fists down on the table (real mature) — I was feeling the anger and rage mounting and I was directing all that energy at myself.
Now here is where my ego stepped in.
I felt like I was useless, incompetent and stupid. If I had to ask for help (which at this point was inevitable) I was admitting defeat and that I wasn’t coping (ego not liking the latter).
I fancy myself as a strong, independent, problem-solving kind of woman and this was just not on!
Tail Between the Legs
I bit the bullet and asked for help which I received and within an hour things were back on track.
My ego was seriously wounded though. I had proven myself to be unlearned in this specific field (which is not really my forte but, heck, that just didn’t seem to matter to my ego). I sat down to reflect and lick my wounds.
Here’s the crux of what I learned:
- Asking for help does not mean you are stupid. It just means you are not thick enough to stop yourself from learning or letting other people exercise their talents in a specific field. Take that one, ego!
- Letting your guard down to show people your vulnerabilities is not disempowering it is the opposite — you’re empowering yourself to be who you are. Your vulnerabilities can make you more relatable to others and yourself. Huh? Cut yourself some slack! We’re all trying our best and sometimes we fall. The hallmark of a pro is to get up again and dust off — that’s what makes you who you are.
- Take a massive slice of humble pie and have a good laugh at your expense. The ego diminishes at the sound of you laughing at yourself. Don’t take things personally (even if it’s you doing the personal criticizing).
- To stubbornly try and do something against your grain, especially when you know you are going down a slippery slope, causes you pain. Stop doing it. Trust your gut instinct — if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. If you must do it, ask for help instead of getting your knickers in a knot. The ego is always trying to compare, compete or criticize — try identify any of these traits in what you are pursuing. Be honest with yourself — are you doing this for you or for someone/something else?
After I had my slice of humble pie, I came across the very same situation yesterday. Instead of a repeat performance of slipping into a state of panic, self-torture, anguish and dismay at my perceived lack of capabilities, I had a good laugh at myself and the reoccurring predicament I found myself in.
I acknowledged that this was another moment where I was out of my depth and I immediately asked for help.
I felt like I stepped aside from my ego and witnessed myself in that vulnerable but okay place and I wasn’t feeling diminished in any way. I was just me and it felt good.
The actual problem was sorted in less than 10 minutes and, contrary to what I thought, I wasn’t at fault this time (yay for me!). It was like a test from the Universe to see if I had digested that humble pie I ate last week.
My conclusion was to love yourself despite your ‘faults’, accept yourself for who you are and don’t give a toss what other people think of you. Step into your power and own the gifts that are specifically you — don’t try to be who you are not.