April 24, 2010

Life Lessons: How to Overcome the Ego Mind

In my pursuit of the foundation for extraordinary performance, I’ve interviewed over 100 extraordinary performers, coaches, sports psychologists, and members of elite forces around the world. As a researcher, I’ve learned to be as objective as possible–to seek the truth.


One truth I found is that we all want the same things. We want to love and be loved. We want great experiences, great relationships, and great memories. We want to learn and grow and use our gifts.


I also found another important truth: We all have the same major challenges. We have a mind that gets cluttered with negative and useless thoughts and has limiting beliefs. Our control center has gotten out of control. It wants to constantly react to everything that happens to us, label it good or bad, and then respond emotionally.


At the heart of all our challenges is the ego. The ego is the part of the mind attached to the external, threatened by failure, and lives in constant comparison to others. In other words, the ego traps us in a haze of temporary, fearful, and past and future concerns.


The ego finds its identity through the external world: money, possessions, achievements, and status. The ego is on a mission to get more of any of those 4 things, so that in our comparison we can say, “yes, I am somebody.” “I’ve done this or I have that.”  The silent message is, “what about you?”


The ego is always on the lookout for the slightest evidence of wrongdoing, in others or ourselves. Because the ego is attached to worldly “success,” it is constantly threatened by what may take away from that success.


The interesting thing is that the ego, in its attachment to worldly success, actually is one of the biggest barriers to worldly and “real” success (where you live fully and love greatly).


So what can you do?

  1. Practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is not saying what that person did is ok, it’s allowing yourself to move to a place of peace. It may help to understand that we all do the best we can throughout our lives with the resources and understanding we had at that time. If we had more resources or understanding, we would have chosen a different path. Forgiving yourself is just as important as forgiving others. Self-rejection is one of the biggest obstacles we face, which comes from our ego saying we are not who we should be unless we have every worldly success. We must forgive ourselves in order to forgive others.
  2. Practice gratitude. Every moment of our lives is a gift, yet so often we move through life with a sense of entitlement. Each night before bed, think of five things you are grateful for. Those who live great lives have learned to pay attention. They see the beauty amidst the ugliness, the light in the darkness. In doing so that light grows into a fire of inspiration.
  3. Find a way to serve others and make it part of your life. The ego is focused on self-preservation, and in doing so moves us toward fear and self-rejection. When you give to those who cannot give back to you in a tangible way, that love moves your focus to the present moment, which is where courage is found and the ego does not exist.
  4. Read great books. You may start with Life Lessons, a powerful book written by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler. Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl is another powerful one. Listen to inspiring books on CD. The Wayne Dyer CD collection is a 4 CD package that has many good insights on overcoming the ego.
  5. Find your purpose. Without purpose, life has no meaning. Purpose is connected to meaning, and meaning is found through contribution. In the book Inner Excellence Pulitzer Prize nominee Frederick Buechner is quoted, “Vocation comes from the place of intersect where the world’s great need meets our deep gladness.” What I think Beuchner is saying is that we all have gifts and passions, and when we can use those gifts to truly serve the world, we will find our direction. Consider reading The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren and taking the 40 day challenge.

If you are serious about overcoming the ego mind, then purchase the book Inner Excellence, and send me your purchase details here. Then I’ll send you the link so you can take the Mindscan personal assessment and I will personally go through it with you. (Please note this is a limited time offer and will end without prior notice).