5 Needs of the Ego That You Can Abandon

ego quote

The Ego needs your thoughts, emotions, and feelings in order to survive. It preys on these throughout your life, and uses you to do Its bidding. It forces you to react unskillfully in most situations where It has been wronged or mistreated. It is parasitic in the sense that it takes over your mind and causes you to act in ways you were not meant to; It guides you into undesirable actions that you usually regret later.
This doesn’t mean the Ego is totally useless and evil. It has benefits as well. It motivates you and drives you to succeed. It inundates you with ambition and perhaps, a healthy work ethic. It forces you to ask significant questions about the world and your place in it. From this perspective your Ego can be nurturing and helpful.
The Ego becomes dangerous when you are unable to differentiate between how it helps and how it harms your emotional harmony. You alone have the power to understand your mind, and therefore, the Ego better. You are responsible for observing the Ego and what It wants. Then you must determine if Its desires are really on par with your desires. Once you decide what you want you can begin eliminating the needs of the Ego that aren’t in line with your needs.
1. The Need to Control- Have you ever noticed yourself with the overwhelming feeling of having zero or little control over a particular situation? Your heart beats faster. You become increasingly agitated and irritated. You are unable to sit still and relax.
Many people, including myself from time to time, are unable to let others assume responsibility for situations because they do not like ceding control. There is a general fear of what the outcome will be without your influence on the task at hand. The Ego is at work here.
The Ego doesn’t care if you have control over the situation or not. It wants control regardless. The first question you need to ask yourself when you begin to feel this way is if you have control over the situation. If the answer is no than is it really worth contemplating despite the Ego’s intentions? If the answer is yes, than the next question you should ask yourself is do you really need to control the situation? Is the situation at hand worth controlling, or does your Ego need a boost?
Let’s examine a simple scenario. You attend a friend’s house for a barbecue. You insist your friend on helping with the dinner preparations. Instead of enjoying the ambience and spirit of the evening you feel the need to interfere with your friend’s dinner plans by insisting upon your “better” ways of grilling the meat. Your inability to enjoy and appreciate the invitation is disrupted by your need to control the situation. I should say it is interrupted by your Ego’s need to control the situation. This might sound like a far-fetched scenario but I have witnessed it myself, and I am sure I have been a culprit of it.
2. The Need to Be Right- Have you ever been around someone who hates being wrong? Maybe you have a family member or a friend who is uncomfortable with being wrong. Perhaps you are unable to accept when you are wrong. Many people are. I believe it is a norm for most people to adopt the need to be right. When you are right you appear to have it altogether. When you are wrong you portray yourself as being weak and perhaps, even stupid.
The Ego hates being wrong. You might think you hate being wrong but in reality it is your Ego. Your Ego thrives off being right all the time. If It isn’t convincing you that you are always right than It isn’t doing Its job. It doesn’t care what the argument is, It wants to be right all the time no matter what.
As soon as you realize that being right isn’t important and necessary your Ego loses strength. The next time you feel the urge to be right, first ask yourself if the issue is worth being “right” about. In many cases you can eliminate the need to be right because frankly, you don’t care enough about the issue to prove that you are right. If you feel it is worth arguing over, next ask yourself what you will gain if it turns out you are right. Will being right make you feel better or happier or will your Ego simply be stroked and bolstered? You should also ask yourself if being right fills some kind of void in your life, or is it about looking good in front of others.
3. The Need for Attention (Recognition)- Are you the kind of person that needs to dominate a conversation when you are in a group setting? You have the insatiable urge to speak no matter what because you want others to hear your opinion. It is difficult for you to simply be present in social situations. Maybe you have difficulty allowing others to speak because you want to be noticed.
Don’t feel bad if this need for attention is one you experience. Your Ego is encouraging you to take action. Your Ego has an immense need for attention from others. If other people aren’t aware of It then It is not fulfilling Its duty as the Ego.
If desiring attention wasn’t disruptive enough the Ego also wants recognition as well. Anything that It perceives as an accomplishment deserves praise from others. Without this recognition the Ego becomes angry, upset, and sometimes jealous. It doesn’t deteriorate if It fails to receive this praise, rather it pushes you to take unskillful action in order that you, I mean, the Ego receives the proper recognition It fees It deserves.
You as well as every other human being deserves a certain amount of attention and recognition. You are a social being who relies on social connection. This is more apparent in humans than any other species. But after the baseline levels of attention and recognition are met, what is the driving force behind your desire for more attention and recognition? When does this need for attention and recognition shift to self-centeredness and egotistical behavior?
I don’t have the exact answer for that but I think you can discern when you are around someone who displays egotistical characteristics. They are not enjoyable to be around. It is challenging to get a word in during a conversation, which is usually about them. It is a challenge for anyone to be aware of this need for attention and recognition. Pay attention to it. Decide if you or your Ego are searching for more attention. Who is in the driver’s seat of this need?
4. The Need for Acceptance From Others- I don’t want to present the idea that acceptance isn’t essential for your well-being because it is. Acceptance plays an enormous role in your life but it differs from the acceptance the Ego needs.
It is vital for you to accept yourself no matter what. I can’t be any blunter than that. If you fail to accept yourself you are always going to be in search of something to boost your self-esteem, and make you feel better about yourself. Unfortunately, this false sense of acceptance you seek to fill that void in your life is driven by the Ego, not you. You truly only need acceptance from yourself. If you are unable to accept yourself than how are others supposed to accept you?
The Ego contaminates your mind by imploring you to care what others think about you. It also tells you to do whatever is necessary to earn acceptance of others even if you are being unauthentic. The Ego doesn’t care if you sell out or lose ingenuity. It wants to be accepted by other people because this makes It feel great. But does it really make you feel great?
Pursuing acceptance of others is a lost cause. This pursuit will ultimately be more damaging than beneficial. It will cause you to try to be someone you are not. It will make you act in ways you eventually will regret later. It will lead to disappointment and suffering that will be self-induced.
When you accept yourself wholeheartedly you don’t need the acceptance of others. You understand that accepting who you are will not always warrant everyone becoming your best friend. Some people will accept you. Some will not. In the process self-acceptance will lead to meaningful and pure social connections that are not egotistically motivated.
5. The Need to Ruminate on the Past or Future- Is there anything more frustrating than being caught in a whirlwind of your own thought about some past or future event? No matter what you do you cannot stop ruminating over something you did or said, or you can’t stop thinking about a future circumstance that has you feeling nervous and overwhelmed.
The Ego might be the most relevant in these moments. In these moments the Ego is crashing down on your mind like waves against a sandy shore. As the Ego beats you up mentally you feel as if you are the only person on the planet who is unable to be in the present moment. This is what the Ego wants.
The Ego doesn’t want you living presently because than Its foundation in your mind becomes weak and frail. It needs you to be thinking about anything but the present moment, and really experiencing the thoughts in your mind, no matter how painful they are. As your past or future thoughts become more concrete, the Ego becomes more powerful.
In order to combat this rumination it is easy to simply say stop thinking these thoughts. That is obviously easier said than done because the thoughts will be there. The Ego will always be there, but you have the ability to disarm Its arsenal.
Living presently means that you are mindful of your thoughts and actions. You are living in the moment, without judgment, and making decisions with intention and the appropriate attitude. You don’t magically gain mindfulness by telling yourself you want to be mindful. It takes a lot of practice and patience. As you become more mindful, you should notice less rumination, and less influence from the Ego.

2 Responses

  1. Daniel Suwinski

    Hi Mike,I always like the short bits of info. I hope all is well with you

    • Hey Mr. S. Thanks a lot for the comment. I appreciate your support. I hope you and the family are doing well. Please tell everyone I say hello. Thanks again.

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