April 20, 2024

13 Ways To Understand What is Ego And How To Quieten It

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Your survival mechanism is not the only factor affecting your emotions. Your ego also plays a major role in shaping the way you feel.

Thus, to gain more control over your emotions, it is fundamental you understand what is ego and how it works.

Now, let’s clarify what we mean by ego. We often say of someone he has a “big ego” referring to the ego as something close to pride. While pride is certainly a manifestation of ego, that’s only one part of it.

You may show no pride and appear humble while still being controlled by your ego. So, what is ego?

The ego refers to the self-identity you’ve constructed throughout your life.

How was this identity created? Put simply, the ego was created through your thoughts and, as a mind-created identity, has no concrete reality.

Events that happen to you bear no meaning in themselves. You give them meaning only through your interpretation of those events.

Additionally, you accept things about yourself because people told you to do so.

What’s more, you identify with your name, your age, your religion, your political belief, or your occupation in a similar way. This attachment has consequences.

As we’ll see later in this guide, attachment creates beliefs, and these beliefs lead you to experience certain emotions.

For instance, you may become offended when people criticize your religion or attack your political principles.

Note that throughout this guide, we’ll refer to the ego as your ‘story’ or your ‘identity’ using these words interchangeably.

Ready, let's find out exactly in 13 little-known ways what is ego, how the ego works, how to quiet your ego or let go of your ego.

#1. Are you aware of your ego?

Your understanding of the way your ego works depends on your level of self-awareness.

People at the lowest level of consciousness are not even aware the ego exists and, as a result, are enslaved by it.

On the other hand, highly self-conscious people can see through their ego.

They understand how belief works and how excessive attachment to a set of beliefs can create suffering in their life.

In effect, these individuals become the master of their mind and are at peace with themselves.

Note that the ego is neither good nor bad, it’s just a result of a lack of self-awareness.

It fades away as you become aware of it, since ego and awareness cannot coexist.

#2. Your ego’s need for an identity.

Your ego is a selfish entity, only concerned about its own survival that is why it becomes tough to quiet your ego and let it go

Interestingly, it’s rather similar to your brain in the way it operates. It has its own survival mechanism and will do whatever it can to persist.

As with your brain, its primary concern is neither your happiness nor your peace of mind.

On the contrary, your ego is restless. It wants you to be a go-getter. It wants you to do, have and achieve great things so you can become a ‘somebody.’ As we already mentioned, your ego needs an identity to exist.

The way it does that is through identification with things, people, or beliefs and ideas.

Now, let’s look at some of the things your ego identifies with to strengthen its identity:

#3. Your ego identifies itself with physical items.

The ego likes to identify with physical things. Needless to say, it thrives in today’s world.

Perhaps, we can say capitalism and the consumer society we’re living in today is the creation of collective egos, which is why it has been the dominant economic model in the recent decades.

Marketers perfectly understand people’s need to identify with things.

They know people don’t just buy a product, they also buy the emotions or story attached to the product.

Often, you buy certain clothes or a particular car because you want to tell a story about yourself.

For instance, you may want to enhance your status, look cool or express your unique personality, and choose the products most closely associated with these ideals.

This is what is ego and how it works.

It uses things to create a story you can identify with. It doesn’t mean things are wrong to possess. But it’s a negative issue only when you become overly attached to things, believing they can fulfill you—which they can’t.

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#4. Your ego identifies itself with body.

Most people derive their self-worth from their physical appearance.

Your ego loves the way you look because it is the easiest thing to recognize and quantify.

When you strongly associate with your physical appearance, you tend to identify more easily with physical and emotional pain

Believe it or not, you can observe your body without ‘identifying with’ it.

#5. Your ego identifies itself with Friends/acquaintances.

The ego also derives its sense of identity from your relationships with others. The ego is only interested in what it can get from others.

In other words, the ego thrives on the way it can use people to strengthen its identity.

If you are honest with yourself, you’ll realize most of the things you do are attempts to obtain the approval of others. You want your parents to be proud of you, your boss to respect you, and your wife to love you.

Now, let’s see in more detail how the ego works in the following cases:

#6. Your ego identifies itself with Parent/child relationships.

Some parents’ egos lead to the creation of a strong sense of attachment and identification with their children. This is based on the false belief their children are their ‘possessions.’

As a result, they try to control their children's’ lives and ‘use’ them to live the life they wanted to live when they were younger—this is called living vicariously through your children. You see this all the time.

Next time you watch a junior soccer (or baseball) game, watch the parents on the touchline to see how some react.

Try spotting the parents living vicariously—they are the ones screaming the loudest, and not simply in encouragement.

This may happen largely unconsciously.

#7. Couples.

The feeling of needing someone is very much a play of the ego as well. Anthony de Mello has a beautiful way to put it when he says:

Anthony de Mello

Loneliness is not cured by human company. Loneliness is cured by contact with reality, by understanding that we don’t need people.

Once you realize you don’t actually need anyone, you can start enjoying people’s company. You can see them as they really are rather than trying to get something from them.

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#8. Your ego identifies itself with your beliefs.

Your ego also uses beliefs to strengthen its identity. In extreme cases, people become so attached to their beliefs they are ready to die to protect them.

Worse still, they are willing to kill people who disagree with them.

Religion is a perfect illustration of the dangers of excessive attachment to beliefs. The ego will use any belief to strengthen its identity, whether these beliefs are religious, political, or metaphysical.

#9. Other objects of ego identification.

Now let’s have a look at a (non-exhaustive) list of things your ego generally derives its identity from:

  • Your body
  • Your name
  • Your gender
  • Your nationality
  • Your culture
  • Your family/friends
  • Your beliefs (political beliefs, religious, etc.)
  • Your personal story (your interpretation of the past, your expectations regarding the future)
  • Your problems (illnesses, financial situation, victim mindset, etc.)
  • Your age Your job Your social status
  • Your role (as employee, homemaker, parental status, employment status, etc.)
  • Material items (your house, car, clothes, phone, etc.)
  • Your desires

#10. What is ego’s main characteristics?

Here are some main characteristics of the ego:

  • The ego tends to equate ‘having’ with ‘being,’ which is why the ego likes to identify with objects. 
  • The ego lives through comparison. Your ego likes to compare itself with other egos.
  • The ego is never satisfied. Your ego always wants more. More fame, more stuff, more recognition, and so on.
  • The ego’s sense of self-worth often depends on the worth you have in the eyes of others. Your ego needs the approval of other people to feel valued.

#11. The ego’s need to feel superior.

It's difficult to quiet your ego because it wants to feel superior to other egos. It wants to stand out and needs to create artificial separations to do that.

Here are some stratagems it employs:

  • Enhancing its value through people. If you have smart/famous friends, your ego will associate with them to strengthen its identity. This is why some people love to tell others how smart, rich or famous their friends are.
  • Gossiping. People gossip because it makes them feel different and superior in some way. This is why some people like to put other people down and talk behind their back; it makes them—and everybody else in their gossiping group— feel superior. 
  • Manifesting an inferiority complex. This hides a desire to be better than others. Yes, even in this case, people want to feel superior. 
  • Manifesting a superiority complex. This hides the fear of not being good enough
  • Looking for fame. This offers the illusion of superiority, which is why people often dream of becoming famous. 
  • Being right. The ego loves to be right. It’s a great way for it to affirm its existence. Have you noticed that everybody, from Adolf Hitler to Nelson Mandela, believe they’re doing the right thing? Most people think they are correct. But can everybody be right?
  • Complaining. When people complain, by definition they believe they are right and others are wrong. It works with objects as well. Have you ever bumped into a table and complained or even insulted it? I have, and the darned table was wrong to be in my way, wasn’t it? 
  • Seeking attention. The ego likes to stand out. It loves recognition, praise or admiration. To seek attention, people may also commit crimes, wear eccentric clothes, or have tattoos all over their body.

#12. Your ego’s impact on your emotion.

Understanding how ego works can help you better control your emotions and quiet your ego.

To do this, you must first realize your current story is the result of a strong identification with people, things or ideas.

This strong identification is the root of many of the negative emotions you experience in your life.

For instance:

  • When life doesn’t unfold according to your personal story you get upset, or 
  • When someone challenges one of your beliefs you become defensive.

In short, most of your emotions are based on your personal story and the way you perceive the world.

As you replace your current story with a more empowering one—while, at the same time, letting go of your excessive attachment to things, people or ideas—you will be able to experience more positive emotions. 

#13. Best ways to quiet your ego.

The best ways to quiet your ego are through the practice of self-compassion, mindfulness. Appreciation and kindness.

  1. Practice Self-compassion: Treat yourself with the same kindness that you might give to a dear friend or loved one who feels guilt, shame, or anger.
  2. Practice Mindfulness: Taking moments frequently throughout the day to stop and look and realize where you are, to do nothing for a moment.
  3. Show Appreciation to Others: Taking time to appreciate people you love and strangers can tame your ego's power to rule over you and help you live a peaceful life.
  4. Be Caring: When you care for others the good feeling and energy automatically reciprocates and returns in multiple ways. Have you ever noticed how good you feel when you do something for someone without expecting anything in return.

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Manish Yadav


My name is Manish Yadav and I’m the owner of the blog "Love Finds its Way". My advice does away with the manipulations and mind games recommended by magazines and the surface level advice of TV gurus… We’ll dive DEEP to you actionable steps you can use today. Over 900,000 men & women have transformed their lives, and I've been featured in Lifehack, Return of Kings, Menimprovement, Urban Dater, and so on...
...My only intention is to help you have all of achieve your dreams and desires and live a beautiful and prosperous life.
And we’re just getting started!

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