A few months ago, I read a blog by Kerwin Rae, about the seven symptoms of the ego. Kerwin is a businessman and he has written coaching blogs and vlogs that really nail down to the grizzly parts of being a human being – something I believe is the hardest job in the world! Kerwin identified the seven symptoms as:
1.Deflection: pushing the responsibility or attention towards others or something else
2.Defence: being defensive in your response to a situation
3.Denial: saying you weren’t part of a situation or that something didn’t happen
4.Distortion: remembering something remarkably differently from the reality
5.Comparison: comparing yourself to others
6.Justification: explaining why something happened the way it did to absolve of full responsibility
7.Blame: it wasn’t me it was them…..
As soon as I became aware of these seven symptoms, I started to see them in my own behaviour, and some symptoms more than others. For me, comparison is probably my go to ego symptom. Working as I do in academic and clinical roles, I regularly fail, and I tend to then look to other people and see their successes and compare them to my own. For example, ‘….that person over there is the same level as me at the university, but they have ten more publications than I do!’ I know how pathetic that sounds really, I do, but this is one of the ways my mind works. Now, when I catch myself doing the comparison, I call it out as a symptom of the ego, and I tell myself that I do not need to protect myself from the successes or failures of others and I try instead to focus on my own purpose and my own path. Of course, that isn’t the end of comparison, it inevitably pops up a few minutes later when my best friend rocks up in a brand new Range Rover Evoque and I drive a Mazda CX5….
Knowing the symptoms of the ego has also helped me to better guess the motivations and behaviours of others around me, particularly at work and particularly in the dog park. My partner and I have a beautiful chocolate labrador puppy and we are taking him regularly to the local dog park. When the other fully grown dogs race towards him and bark at him or play a little rough with him their owners are often quick to provide an explanation (justification) for their dogs’ behaviour or they tell me their dog is only playing (distortion) and when blood is drawn, pretend nothing ever happened (denial)!
So how do we free ourselves from the ego? Well, another lesson learned from Kerwin Rae is to take full responsibility for your life and everything in it. The way to do this is to fully accept that where you are in life is what you asked for and to accept that you have created it. Although this sounds like eating broken glass, the practice of taking responsibility for yourself is not as bad as it sounds. Once you accept full responsibility you can then decide to make changes if you are not quite yet where you want to be in your life.