If ego can erode brotherly ties between the world’s richest siblings, ruin careers and relationships, wipe away fortunes and futures, it surely is a greater force than most of us give it credit for!
Come to think of it, ego is one of the two deadliest traps you could fall into – at work, or even in your relationships. The second of course is emotion. The two forces within that could conspire to ruin you with very little help from external enemies. The enemies within.
Ego that blinds you to all else but a perceived slight. And emotion that blinds you to the outcome of your resultant outburst. Ego that makes an entire clan believe their honor has been hurt by a young couple’s romantic liaison. And emotion that makes them kill their own child and the lover.
From the Gita to Osho to Bhuddhist teachings to modern Western analysis of the constructed nature of self, all religions and philosophies have attempted to define ego. Yet, ego remains almost as abused a word as “sexy!” “He has a huge ego;” “Don’t let ego ruin your relationship;” “Ego comes in the way of success” are oft-heard phrases. And yet, how many understand what the word means?
Here are few definitions, Ego is “a pseudo reflection of the soul” (Lord Krishna in The Gita); “a false sense of the self,” (Master Sheng yen, one of the world’s most respected Bhuddhist masters); “an emotional charged image of self” (Otto Kernberg, pioneering psychologist); “A false centre. The reflection of what others think” (Osho).
So then should one rid oneself of all ego and emotion as religious texts prescribe? Well, so long as you wish to live in the world and not take off to the mountains in the loin skin carrying a kavandal, the better deal surely is to learn to handle ego and emotion rather than give them up!
You can either make ego and emotions your strength or your greatest weakness by allowing someone else to handle them to their advantage. If someone who knows you mildly can play you like a musical instruments, eliciting the emotions and responses they want from you, that is your biggest Achilles’ heel. If your enemy knows what most angers you and so makes you lose control, undoubtedly he will be tempted to use his power over you.
In our everyday lives, we are bound to be faced with situations that hurt our ego or incite emotions. A hurt ego almost always responds emotionally. The emotion amy be one of sadness, anger, revenge or aggression. Give in to it and you have walked into a trap; to walk away is to transcend on to tanother plane and feel thrilled with your will power and control over yourself.
People take a catlike delight in playing with those trapped by their emotions. As Deepak Chopra says, managing others begins with managing yourself first. “Business leaders who don’t know themselves too well and cannot get a grip on their emotions and ego, fail miserably.”
The top performing companies are usually those who CEO’s names you wouldn’t know. They have none of the ego and arrogance associated with a CEO. That’s because “these people were not into themselves; their goal was not adulation or power, but to create a great company.” Their companies would do well even after they leave. Which is more than can be said for Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric. But can certainly be said for Infosys’ Narayanmurthy!
The aim should be to develop a high level of emotional intelligence, which enables you to think through your emotions intelligently. And to use your emotions to help you think more intelligently. It is important to stay in touch with who you are as a human being, because that is who you will be in every sphere of life, be it work or relationship.
To that end, ego or an awareness of self is important. Who you think you are is an integral part of who you become.