Our egos are the parts of our minds that mediate between the conscious and the unconscious; they are our senses of self-esteem or self-importance, and my ego is one needy scamp!
Last week outside of work tasks, I finished a gorgeous book which inspired me to try and learn a bit more about myself. This micro-journey led me to Buddhism.
I’m no expert in Buddhism, nor am I devoted to practice the beliefs daily; however, I do have a curiosity for it. The more I learn about Buddhist culture, and the more I understand it, the more my interest grows.
This research took me to read about ‘the four noble truths’. To keep this simple, ‘Suffering happens,’ ‘It has a cause,’ ‘It has an end,’ and ‘There is a way to bring about its end.’
For many, creatives in general, the ego can play a large part in ‘the suffering’; we’ve all heard the saying ‘tortured artist’. The ego is the unconscious whisper that says, “If I share this work people will laugh at me”, “If I try to sell this book I wrote others will see that I have no talent”, “I’m a phoney!”, “I should give up!!”, and so the list goes on.
I came to realise that my ego is a needy little thing, she’s on an ongoing voyage for validation, praise seeking and a hunter for appreciation.
The German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, said it well, “Whenever I climb, I am followed by a dog called Ego.”
I’m not saying that I think these negative things about myself. My conscious self knows my worth. I’ve never been super-duper confident or an extrovert, by any means, but age and hard work have both been kind enough to grant me confidence in my abilities and my talents. But, no matter how much I do, how much I learn or how good I get, my ego is here; She is a part of me, as is yours to you.
So, what’s the key to quietening down the internal ego-echo? What’s the trick to clearing out our minds and removing the fear and the doubt?
You could try thinking like your child-self…children aren’t trapped by their egos. They are not scared (yet) of failure. This unconscious thought process comes to us as we enter adulthood.
Some of you may say, “I don’t have an ego”. I can’t speak for you, but I do have a way, for those of us who do, to tap into this inner self. This one is for small business owners: Go to three of your biggest competitors on social media, any platform. Look at their feed and read the content for 5 minutes. Now, tell me, is your mind saying, did it mutter a whisper for even a second something like…“they are doing better than you”? My guess is your unconscious self felt at least a twinge of inferiority. The truth is, some of these contenders probably are doing better but who cares. You are you, and you are different. Your business is unique, and so it should be. Maybe you spend more of your time on other areas, or perhaps they are more established than you are. It’s not about the differences, it’s about acceptance, letting go and making your own way; you can’t go wrong being you. And that’s enough. The worst thing you can do is to try and be like someone else – your customers will detect this inauthenticity instantly.
Here’s the part you need to accept. No matter what you gain now or in your life, no matter where your business journeys to, or how much money you make (if that’s important to you), your ego will not let you rest. They will be there, by your side, every step of the way.
If the child-self process doesn’t work in quietening down the anxiety and the uncertainty (it wasn’t really meant to), there are lots of ways you can learn to tame your needy passenger….here’s a few:
1. Forgive and let go of the negative.
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” — Mahatma Gandhi
2. Be real, your authentic self and open to opportunities.
3. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Be curious and explore.
4. Perform a selfless act, daily and take time for you; meditate.
5. Practice gratitude.
“It’s not happy people who are thankful; it’s thankful people who are happy.” — Unknown
This brings me full circle back to ‘the noble truths’ and ‘the suffering’. You can’t stop the inner voice from spouting off noise in your head, but you can learn to turn them down a few notches.
Be brave and true to your creative self, it doesn’t matter what others think of your work, what matters is the work itself and your journey in making it. Your triumphs and your failures will develop you, and they are your own to make and to keep. In the very wise words of one of my favourite artists from my time at art and design college, “Creativity takes courage.” — Henri Matisse
Share this blog, perhaps it might give confidence to someone curious to try something new, or at the very least, it may serve in helping to keep a clamorous ego in check.
“When ego is lost, limit is lost. You become infinite, kind and beautiful.” — Yogi Bhajan