Written by Theodora Zourkas
On any given day the news is full of examples of ego doing its thing. The US elections have seen the rise of Donald Trump who continues to spread fear, and the appalling behaviour of the US Republican Party who keep rejecting the gun laws. While our own elections are perhaps not as colourful, we have now entered the last few weeks where fear is being ‘shovelled out’ as an election strategy. This weekend we are also seeing the immediate aftermath of the Brexit results, a perfect example of ego doing what it does best – more fear.
What is the ego? The easiest way I understand the ego is that it’s like Iago from Shakespeare’s play Othello. Iago is Othello’s ‘trusted’ advisor who keeps whispering in Othello’s ear that his wife is unfaithful to him, until finally Othello kills his innocent wife. Like Iago, our ego is whispering in our ear all the time.
All of us are composed of light and shadow and the ego is our shadow side. Our ego always points out the negative. It’s the little voice that whispers, “they are trying to rip you off”, “you are not good enough to do that,” “you’re better than them”, “why should they have a nice car you’re entitled to that,” “immigrants are taking all the jobs”. The ego lives and breathes fear.
Our ego can paralyse us from doing what we know is right. When you are in the clutches of your ego you come up with lots of justifications why you don’t do what is right. We mistakenly call this pride. You know the “I can never forgive them for what they did to me!” scenario. Well the only person who suffers in this scenario is YOU. Your ego is happy because it keeps stoking the fires of resentment and anger and all you gain is bitterness, unhappiness, it can detrimentally impact your health and you become boring to your friends as you keep talking about the same thing over and over.
That’s why they say that when you forgive someone, it releases you from holding onto the negative energy that came out of that particular situation. You don’t have to forget what happened, you just accept the lesson and forget the rest. This however is the opposite of what your ego wants, because this approach empowers you and disempowers your ego.
The ego makes the situation all about you and you have to ‘win’. Continuing down this path however ultimately backs you into a corner with nowhere to move. And when you are backed into a corner the ego tells you “you didn’t get enough support”, “they lied”, “they’re jealous of you.”
It’s always someone else’s fault.
We have so much opportunity to be the best version of ourselves and grow. Yes the world is a scary place at the moment but this is the time for all of us to step up and show compassion, forgiveness and acceptance. You see, being ‘me focussed’ is living life from ego. Living a life from ego does not enable you to be the best version of yourself. Wouldn’t it serve you better to be aware when it’s your ego whispering?
We can’t get rid of our ego as it is part of us. But, we do have free will and always the choice to act in the light or shadow. There are two things we can do that give us power over our ego:
1. Take responsibility for our behaviour
2. Consider the situation from the other person’s perspective
I have been practicing these two things to help me to focus my energy on being the best version of me, and I have to say I’m feeling more empowered.
The only way we can fight fear and change the world is to start with ourselves.
Love and light
Theodora Zourkas and Kate Zourkas are the Directors of Zourkas Group and authors of 'Finding Your Inner Resilience'. Theodora and Kate have a passion for creating greatness in others and living from the heart. They are experts in change management, organisation development and strategy, capability development, resilience and personal development.