Identifying the ego
“If you feel better or less than somebody else, that is ego” –Eckhart Tolle.
Whether we like to admit it or not, everyone has some form of ego. Eckhart Tolle defines ego simply as, “A dysfunctional relationship with the present moment.” It is also broken down by Deepak Chopra when he says, “The ego is not who you really are. The ego is your self-image; it is your social mask; it is the role you are playing. Your social mask thrives on approval. It wants control, and is sustained by power, because it lives in fear.” In my last post, I touched on the run in with my own ego and my first real recognition of it. My first week at camp provided me with another powerful interaction involving the ego.
The counselors arrived three weeks before the kids to prepare the camp and spend time getting to know one another and making connections. During this time, I connected with a couple guys who shared my interest in resistance training, one a successful model and another a former college baseball player. Once we had the gym set up, we quickly agreed that we would lift together each morning.
It is important to note that the months leading up to camp were as physically draining as they were mentally and emotionally. For context, prior to coming to camp, I had just finished seven weeks of working 12-14 hour night shifts on the tractor seeding for my parents. I managed to run a few days a week and get the rare gym session at the next-door neighbor’s (still 15 minutes away)- that is, when I wasn’t absolutely buggered. Needless to say, this did not maintain my usual fitness level.
So when I started working out with a model and an ex-collegiate athlete, I found myself feeling inferior. I compared my body to theirs and the amount of weight we lifted. Once again, I heard that little whisper of the ego mention that I was the strength & conditioning coach, therefore, I should be leading the way in strength, technique, and programming.
I distinctly remember the first time I recognized the ego at work, in between sets during our second day working out together. I remember feeling so heavy, like I was under this intense pressure to lift at my best. I felt the need to prove to these guys that I was at their level.
A thought of recognition came in at that moment. This is the ego! In an instant, I was suddenly on the outside looking in at the maddening situation that the ego had created. I knew I had a choice- I could either continue to buy into what my ego was trying to feed me and let it tear me down, or I could acknowledge that it was there, and kindly say that I didn’t want any part of what it was selling.
I remember looking out of the gym over the beautiful lake down the hill, feeling the pressure and heaviness dissipate and be replaced by absolute joy as I chose the latter. I could not believe the instant change I felt! By making a conscious choice not to buy into my ego, I had shifted my whole energy and awareness. I turned back into the gym with a massive smile on my face, ready to finally enjoy what I was doing.
My ego was tested again when one of the boys made the comment that when we lifted together it was always a competition of who could lift the most weight. After what I had learned a couple of days before, I said that I would not be competing with him. I was there to be the best person I could be within myself. His ego was trying to get a reaction from mine, but I had sent mine away on a holiday. Not feeding the other’s ego gave it nowhere to go and, consequently, gave it no power to affect me.
These events sparked an increased self-awareness of my ego in other situations. By acknowledging it for what it was, I could successfully allow it to dissipate, almost instantly, whenever it decided to be cheeky and pay a little unwelcomed visit.
I understand that while it is near impossible to eradicate the ego altogether, when we work on becoming aware of its existence and choose whether or not to buy into it, we take back the power of being able to find peace in the present moment and in finding our true selves. The more consistently we are aware of who is speaking in our heads, the less we will see that cheeky bugger.
Love & light.