Through my years of trying to figure myself and others out I’ve noticed that we people tend to have one very big thing in common: we have egos. And, even though we don’t normally like to admit it, those egos are pretty big. And we feed them more and more every day.
There are good things about the ego, though: thanks to it we (usually) have a firm knowledge in the back of our minds about who we are, what we like and what we don’t. Because, believe it or not, way before our ego got this negative connotation we know today, it started out as something much simpler and straight forward: our conscious self. Don’t believe me? Check out this very simplified psychological article on the matter. At some point the ego was considered something not only totally normal, but also desperately needed for us to maintain a healthy view of what’s good and what’s not and when it’s time to put the brake on our impulses. And then, somewhere along the line of growth of our society, the ego turned into this very negative thing that if pointed out by someone surely means you’re a selfish bastard that cares only about himself and looks down on all others. I honestly think it’s about time we gave poor ego a little credit: it really does save our necks from time to time, no?
On the other side of things, our egos can sometimes play some nasty tricks on us as well. Sometimes we rally are selfish, sometimes we hurt others. And sometimes we get hurt by random things as well; we take things personally. What does this mean? Usually we say that when we feel that something is much more targeted at us than it really is. And, oftentimes, it’s not so much the thing we’re facing that puts us down but rather, the intensity with which we stare at it that makes it triple in size. When we feel hurt or wronged in some way, our ego steps in to let us know how we’re feeling and why. But it might also turn into the reason we delve much deeper into what’s offended us than we really need to. And this kind of increases the more sensitive we are: and we end up sinking in to our cocoon or, alternatively, bursting out in anger over something that might not have been that bad at all.
So what can we do to lay back on the part of our ego that’s hurting us more than it’s helping us? Take a look at some suggestions to help us cope:
- Stop and take a break. More often than not we tend to feel hurt when someone or something is diminishing something we’ve put effort into; physical or mental. In these cases it’s best to just stop for a second and asses, before we allow our egos to start screaming how wrong and unfair this is. Get yourself out of the situation even if only for a few seconds and breathe: make sure you’re coming back prepared for what might happen next.
- Take a different angle. Try your best to imagine what someone that was not as emotionally involved in the situation would do/think. Oftentimes when we feel passionately about something we lose focus and it becomes easy to hurt us. Remember that no matter what the situation is, there’s always another point of view you can take; if it’s hard to distance yourself right now, ask a friend! Turn to someone that’s not so immediately involved for some much needed unbiased opinion. De-center from what you feel hurt by in order to understand it more calmly.
- Realize that it’s not always about you. Yep, sometimes people are just rude because that’s what they are inside, not because that’s something that you provoke. Learn that difference! We never know what others are going through right now: maybe this hurtful person is dealing with something unimaginable. Or maybe he’s just an a$$. Either way, that’s really none of your concern. You will never please everyone so, the best you can do is try to look for the rationale of each criticism you get, and if you cannot find any no matter how hard you try, just move on and accept that this was probably not meant for you at all.
- Value yourself. A part of growing up is realizing that your self-worth is not determined by what anyone says about you: we all have such different opinions and standards that it’s impossible to determine something that will be good in the eyes of all. And even if we could, it probably would never fit with our own idea of us anyway. Only we can determine our self-worth and only we can decide to allow or not allow others to walk all over that. We are not determined by our mistakes or others’ criticism, only by how we choose to deal with them.