A Blow to the Ego... Is Good for Your Soul - Common Sense Living Newsletter
 
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A Blow to the Ego... Is Good for Your Soul

Life
Jun 23, 2015

 

'I worked so damn hard. I went above and beyond the call of duty. I went beyond my role taking on whatever responsibilities came my way. I never once said, "This is not my job". Instead of being appreciated I am being humiliated.'

My friend Naina had just discovered that after she had worked tirelessly on a pitch that landed her ad firm a very big account, she was being passed over on a promotion. 'I get no respect.'

Ouch. Naina was hurting. And it wasn't about the money, although that's always nice to get more of. It was her self-worth.

A big project comes in, but it lands in someone else's lap. You're up for promotion, but you get passed over. You think you deserve a pat on the back and sometimes you just get a slap instead.

Naina was now seriously contemplating leaving the firm to find a workplace where she feels more 'valued'.

Our self-worth is, unfortunately, and all too often, tied up in the value that is externally placed on us.

In Naina's puffed up face and hurt eyes, I could see exactly what she was feeling. I have felt it too. We all have at some time or other. I get no respect, I could see, are words uttered by a bruised ego.

A blow to the ego can really rile you up. It can anger and depress you, push you to work harder or take you to the point of giving up. And it always hurts like hell.

Whether it is my izzat (self-respect) or my keemti waqt (valuable time) or my sachaai (integrity) or kabiliyat (capability) that are questioned, it's a blow to the ego.

If you had no ego, just imagine... you would be so comfortable at work, so approachable in your relationships, so fulfilled in your own life. An ego is important in some ways - it gives you a sense of self, a sense of identity that pushes you to create a life of value.

But more often than not, it gets in the way of achieving great dreams  and fostering fruitful relationships with others, and ironically also with ourselves.

So a blow to the ego is a good thing. It can keep you in check. It can help you honestly assess your own work and your own importance in the world.

In fact, go ahead, and thrash your own ego. Shrink it, conquer it, destroy it if you can. To do that you must...

Listen

We just love talking about ourselves. Some Harvard university researchers recently conducted a study to look at how much people liked talking about themselves and why. They did many experiments including scanning people's brains and saw that the 'reward' centers in our brains lit up when we were revealing personal information about ourselves and our opinions of others.

Your ego wants to be heard. My ideas, my thoughts, my opinions are so important, everybody better listen. Often when people don't listen to us we say, 'his ego is getting in the way.' Do you see the irony there? Everyone wants to be heard - because their ego is always shouting.

Instead, as Ted Capshaw the leadership consultant I met last week said, 'seek not to be understood, but to understand' . Consciously choose to keep your mouth shut, and your ears open. It is easier said than done. I sometimes feel as though if my 'all-important' concerns aren't aired, I will suffocate. Stupid ego.

Now, I have found a way to air my self-centered thoughts so as to reduce their significance in my head, and when I speak. To do that, I write. Sometimes I write to you, as I am doing now. Other times, I write to no one.

I empty my brain on paper, and suddenly, the noise in my head dies down so I can listen to others. My approach to life becomes clearer, and I can distinguish the voice of my reason from the noise of my ego.

Or you can do what Gandhiji did and keep maun vrat (a day of silence). Find a way to consciously quiet your inner voice and listen to others.

Read

I know it seems as though every time I come up with a problem, somehow, I always think 'reading' is the answer. Okay, so maybe I am a little partial to reading because I am just so attached to words strung into sentences turned into pages stuck together. It is my absolute favourite thing about being human - the ability to read. But that's not just why I am recommending it here. I really believe, without the slightest doubt, reading is a great way to conquer your ego.

Einstein says, 'More the knowledge, lesser the ego. Lesser the knowledge, more the ego.' And he being one man who had a lot of knowledge, I am inclined to believe him.

But reading does more than increase your knowledge and understanding of the world. It helps you understand people - different kinds of people, the vastness of human experience, the struggles human beings have surmounted. I read Man's Search for Meaning recently, a book that made my ego shrivel up to half its size. I highly recommend it. In fact I will write more about this book and the thoughts of its author Viktor Frankl in another letter soon to give you a sense of the importance of this work.

Yoga

Not just because we just had International Yoga Day. Although, considering that my favourite yoga teacher Sandi is a young Indonesian man who lives in a small town called Yogyakarta, and I just went to a Vinyaasa yoga class in Cologne, Germany, last week when I was visiting my friend, I am completely on board with an international celebration of yoga.

Narendra Modi believes that among the benefits of yoga is 'opening and refining of the heart's emotions leading to greater compassion, mutual understanding, and sensitivity to the needs of others.'

There is a yoga pose called 'Ego Eradicator'. I have only recently discovered it and am just beginning to practice it. But I can already begin to see how regular practice can bring change within.

Practicing Ego Eradication: Sit up straight and lift your arms up to your side and then a little higher to an angle of 60 degrees as though you have just won a race. If you imagine your body as a clock, your arms should be at the 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock position. Make a 'thumbs up' gesture with your hands, with the thumbs pointing towards the ceiling.

In this position, practice a breathing technique called 'breath of fire' with short forceful inhalations and exhalations while contracting your belly with each exhalation. Start by doing it for one minute, and extend it as you become more comfortable.

Here's a video that demonstrates it. In the spirit of International Yoga Day, please don't take note of the fact that this teacher is not Indian, but instead the clear, calm way in which she demonstrates...

The Yogic Practice of Ego Eradication

Work

I wrote in my article on leadership lessons that you should never say, 'this is not my job' instead always say, 'how can I help.'

Reader M wrote a comment to us pointing out that 'these type of efforts are thwarted many a time by the response of the management/ superiors... who, if the effort bears fruit, takes the credit and if it fails... puts the blame wholly on the "trier"... 2-3 times like this and the "trier" stops "contributing"...'

Although that can sometimes be true, I never meant that you would get instant and proportionately measurable credit for your work. In fact, more often than not you probably won't get any immediate credit at all.

But it is your ego that wants the credit. Instead, keep working, as hard as you can, and leave your ego at home. Do the work for yourself, to live a productive life, to learn and to grow. Not to get an ego massage.

Sooner or later, you will see value in your work. But don't let that be the reason guiding your decisions. As Charlie Munger says in all his practical wisdom...

'Slug it out one inch at a time, day by day. At the end of the day - if you live long enough - most people get what they deserve.'

 
 

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19 Responses to "A Blow to the Ego... Is Good for Your Soul"

A.R.Subbalakshmi

18 Apr, 2016

A very nice article.This gives a clear clarity between EGO and SELF ESTEEM

Hari Mitra Bhandari

21 Nov, 2015

Perfect. I have myself experienced in my life. By sincere and continued hard work I got more than l expected. Excellent article. Congrats.

jayesh

25 Oct, 2015

This is the most prime thing to be Successful in life!! Nice article.

Shripad Narvekar

26 Jun, 2015

Dear Madam, Good to read your article about EGO . In Air India we used to say three letter word we must forget. This is a very good message for present generation because in them it is seen more. In Air India I worked for 36 years without any EGO. Due to which our The Then MD Mr Brejeshkumar gave some of the officers who were stagnated because they were not having EGO but they were qualified and hard worker got three promotion at a time . We were promoted from Dy Manager to Assistant General Manager Rank by conducting three interviews in a period of one month. I feel this is a benefit of a Blow to the EGO. Thanks and Regards

Like (1)

URMISH P DESAI

26 Jun, 2015

Great Article...Fantastic Thought... Learn one more Yoga Trick.. Thanks... God Bless You....

Ravindra Kr Gupta

25 Jun, 2015

I agree with everything you have written, Infact long back one of my colleague did not get promotion and his ego heart badly and wanted to quit. I counselled him subsequently he gave his best and got promoted in next month If want to share some common sense ideas where do I post thanks

Ravindra Kr Gupta

25 Jun, 2015

I agree with everything you have written, Infact long back one of my colleague did not get promotion and his ego heart badly and wanted to quit. I counselled him subsequently he gave his best and got promoted in next month If want to share some common sense ideas where do I post thanks

Ravindra Kr Gupta

25 Jun, 2015

I agree with everything you have written, Infact long back one of my colleague did not get promotion and his ego heart badly and wanted to quit. I counselled him subsequently he gave his best and got promoted in next month If want to share some common sense ideas where do I post thanks

R. HARIPRASATH

25 Jun, 2015

Fantastic thoughts Anisa mam ..

Kumar

25 Jun, 2015

Hi Anusa, I thought you are going to give solution to Naina to excel in her performance by knocking down her ego. But, the topic went down into philosophy, which can only be practiced to season you to accept failures. Once I gave my car to my mechanic to attend to an odd sound in the engine, he returned back after service with no change in the engine sound, when I questioned him he said “continue driving, you will get used to it”. Similarly, do all yoga etc., so get used to your disappointments.

v.c.krishnan

24 Jun, 2015

The truth as to why we Indians have been ruled for the past years after independence, before modi came on the scene can by people with pathetic and infantile ideas is clearly made out here. The west has learnt to use the techniques available in our esoteric literature and put them to practical use. We discuss, discuss and finally end up having a one hour screaming session about it on TV!!

akash

24 Jun, 2015

great thought

elizabeth

24 Jun, 2015

very good article! may god bless you with more writing skills and encourage younger generations to read

S.V.VASUDEVA

24 Jun, 2015

The earliest you read ,the earlier you understand the essence of the contents,the early you practice oh,now you know what you are born for that too as a human .So,let us welcome email ecommerce easy effeciency efforts etc and say a long goooooo to ego.Yes,life is in our hands.Choose the method to make it sweet in all conditions. Sincere thanks to you,young lady.

B.Ravichandran

23 Jun, 2015

Anne Novak demonstrates well to relieve tension and stress during work which makes only egoistic which is not needed and stay remain calm always. Have a Healthy & Happy Life.

Like (2)

Pandharinath Wagh

23 Jun, 2015

Sir / Madam, This yoga is very simple and easy. You have to breath it out continuously for some time. I love doing it again and again. Please inform ideal time for this yoga. Thank you / Regards, Pandharinath Wagh

Like (1)

prabhakar rawat

23 Jun, 2015

Thanks Anisa for writing this! This is just so true! Not only at work but in personal relationships, we are constantly looking for recognition, acceptance, appreciation, 'you are right' most of the time. I guess that where we start feeling 'not appreciated' & 'taken for granted' and stop doing those nice things for our loved ones. No wonder we like to be around only certain set of people and avoid or dislike the other set! But if we continue to feel the above feelings, should we just keep it within ourselves & work on the 'ego' or communicate to the other person (spouse/boss/friend) about how we feel in a objective/constructive manner? what do you suggest? Regards, Prabhakar

Like (1)

Roshni

23 Jun, 2015

Great thought!

D.S.Prashant

23 Jun, 2015

Hi, Great read and info. Please don't do Yoga on full stomach. It will be very dangerous.

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