Self-awareness is one of those things that we all assume we already possess.
But according to studies at Harvard, 95% of people think they’re self aware, while in reality on 10-15% are actually self-aware.
Where does that leave you?
Most of humanity is wading through life completely oblivious of its core being. Of course, the way our civilization is designed is partly to be blamed for this.
However, there is something more dangerous that is perhaps the biggest barrier to us becoming self-aware.
We are, of course, talking about ego.
Ask any person who has managed to get some sliver of understanding of themselves, and they will tell you that ego is the biggest enemy of self-awareness.
This has been known since ancient times.
In fact, in Hinduism and Buddhism, there are dedicated practices to help us shed our ego so that we can know ourselves truly and by extension, comprehend the true nature of the reality that we live in.
Before we move on to the methods of dropping one’s ego, it would be wise to first understand what exactly it is and how ego blocks self-awareness.
This understanding will make it a lot easier for you to get rid of your ego.
What Is Ego And How Does It Block Self-Awareness?
In very simple terms, you could say that ego is how you think of yourself and how you see yourself.
It could also mean how identified you are with your thoughts, beliefs, and opinions.
If you think highly of yourself (regardless of whether you really deserve it or not), it can be said that you have a big ego.
In other words, your perception of reality may not be true.
Also, if you think that your thoughts and beliefs should come before anyone else’s, again, you have a big ego.
So, how does ego hinder self-awareness?
Well, ask yourself what is self-awareness and you’ll get your answer.
A person is said to be self-aware if they are able to look at themselves just the way they are – without any bias or prejudice. Someone who can look at themselves objectively (or how other people see them) is someone who is ‘grounded in reality’.
In other words, they can see themselves objectively and clearly.
They accept their strengths and weaknesses equally. There is no hiding of the bad aspects or over-exaggerating of the good ones.
As is evident, ego and self-awareness stand in contrast to each other.
On one hand, you have something that blinds you to your true nature and on the other hand, you have something that makes you take a good hard look at yourself.
It’s obvious then that your ego acts as a blindfold that prevents you from introspection and reflection. Without these, you can’t even begin your journey of self-discovery and awareness.
How To Let Go of Ego
Now that we have established how bad an inflated ego is, let’s take a look at some effective ways to let go of it.
Doing so will not only help you turn your eyes inwards, but it will also fill you with a renewed sense of interest in everything that surrounds you.
You will begin to appreciate everything and everyone around you more. This is something that is very much required of the modern human being.
1) Spend Some Time Alone Every Day
This is something that is getting rarer and rarer by the day. Living the hectic lifestyle we all lead it definitely shows that most of us don’t spend enough time alone (and not scrolling on social media).
Spending some time alone can give you the break you need to delve into your thoughts and emotions. Reflect.
Time alone helps you think introspectively and understand how you think, why you think the way you do, what your values are, what you stand for, etc.
It gives you the time you need to form a non-judgmental understanding of who you are as an individual.
This is important for one very important reason.
Just as the ego can block self-awareness, self-awareness can block ego. Doesn’t that make perfect sense?
When you know who you are on the inside, there is no room for ego to play its dirty tricks.
Everything is out in the open and you have no option but to acknowledge the truth. So, it is a good idea to make sure you spend some time alone with yourself every day. It doesn’t have to be much.
Just 10-15 minutes will do.
2) Always Think Like A Beginner
You probably already know that the late Steve Jobs was ousted from his own company (Apple) and he went on to start another one (Next). Later on in his life, when he was asked about this phase of his life, he said something really profound.
He reflected, “The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again. It freed me to enter into one of the most creative periods of my life.”
This is what you need to do if you want to let go of your ego.
If you adopt a beginner’s mentality, you will have no previous standing or perceived sense of greatness.
Naturally, any ego you might have will simply vanish and you will feel much lighter as a result. And logic dictates that any journey undertaken with little to no luggage is bound to be an easier one.
3) Remind Yourself How Little You Are
One reason why people’s ego becomes much bigger than it should is that they think they have gained significance.
This could be because of an overestimation of their self-worth, achievement of their goals, appreciation from other people, and so on.
This perceived significance can block them from seeing the larger reality at play.
You see, we are nothing in comparison to the universe.
The sun is a million times larger than our planet. And there are hundreds of billions of sun-like stars in our galaxy.
Plus, there are an estimated 2 trillion galaxies in the observable universe, each with hundreds of billions of stars. So, can you imagine how small an individual person is?
Even the Earth is like a speck of dust in comparison to the entirety of the cosmos!
So, what meaning does one person’s ego have?
The answer is exactly what you’re thinking right now – zero.
4) Spend Time With People Who Are More And Less Fortunate Than You
Oftentimes, ego arises out of ignorance. When you think that you are above others, you naturally start thinking that you are special.
You might even become obsessed with yourself. This is not something you want to do.
It puts you in a bubble and you become a prisoner of your own self-appreciation. Instead, you should spend time with other people and learn from their life journeys.
It’s wise to learn from both the people who are more fortunate than you and the less fortunate ones.
When you spend time with people who aren’t doing well in life, it makes you realize that life can always get worse.
It serves as a reminder that you should value what you have with humility because all of that can be taken away in the blink of an eye.
And when you spend time with people who are doing better than you, well, that again fills you with humility because you realize that you are not that special.
5) Rise Above The Image Game
In the modern world, most people are merely concerned with how others perceive them.
Edited instagram photos, only posting vacation pics on facebook, ect.
This makes them run after the superficial things in a bid to enhance their image and sense of self-worth. Since their accumulations never prove to be enough, they enter into an endless cycle of inflating their egos.
The more they accumulate, the more egoistic they get.
If this is you, you are only fooling yourself.
The more egoistic you get, the more you want to accumulate.
Will Smith, the popular actor, said it perfectly, “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.”
If you are serious about letting go of your ego, you need to rise above this nonsensical game of image building.
Instead of chasing meaningless things in life, you need to devote your life to a higher purpose. Doing so will lead you to things that actually matter.
Only then would you be able to experience true happiness with the lightness of being devoid of any ego.
We think that it is a huge tragedy if a person comes to the planet and leaves without even knowing who they really are.
Not only is it sad for them, but it is also sad for the entire human race. How can we possibly hope to raise our collective consciousness, if the individual human doesn’t know who they are!
Self-awareness is the path we must all take if we want to build a better world. It’s something we must achieve to begin the next step of our evolution.
It can help us minimize the influence of the reptilian part of our brains and enhance the empathic one.
In order to ensure self-awareness, you must get rid of its biggest enemy, the ego.
Doing so might prove to be a little difficult, but if you stay the course, it’s just a matter of time. You owe it to yourself, and humanity at large.
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