Have you ever found times where you want to express yourself freely, but something inside just stops you? I know I have. Or how about this: someone else is freely expressing themselves on a subject but you cut them off? Or, just the opposite, how many times have you sat back not liking what was going on around you, wanting to say something, but just too nervous to do or say something?

Often we are hesitant to speak our minds because we are overly-concerned that others may view us poorly. Our ego gets in the way.

Ego is a word all too often wrongly defined. We’ve been told since youth that ego is something that is good to have. I’m here to tell you that you’re better off without it.

What is ego? Ego is your self-image. And our tendency is to protect it at all costs. Protect it from what though? Can others REALLY harm it? Is it truly vulnerable to the attack of others?

First, self-image is just that, your view of you. But keep in mind it is your ENTIRE view, not just the rating of one or a few behaviors. You are made up of many behaviors and actions. So your self-image has to include them, ALL of them. Lastly, and very importantly, never forget that self-image is YOUR view, not the view that others have of you.

Now, do you really want others to determine your image? I would suggest not. First, how many of your behaviors does anyone really ever see? Almost any rating of you would be rigid, based upon the lack of data that others have about your behaviors. Plus, what if the rater is having a “bad” day and isn’t exactly in a healthy state to accurately record data? Do you really want your ego on the line based upon that?

You will be much better off giving up the concept of ego. It’s not important. And it’s simply and scientifically impossible to arrive at a self-image, when you think about it.

YOU are going to find it impossible to rate you, simply because you are too complex to rate. We have hundreds of behaviors and it would be impossible to somehow take all of these behaviors, make some statement of goodness or badness, and arrive at some global SELF-IMAGE.

This ego thing is entirely over-rated. As such, give it up. Look at individual behaviors that you have, change what you don’t like, then continue to behave in ways that help you to be true to your values and goals. And recognize that you are truly human, which means at times you are not going to do well, even when you would most like to. That’s the way it is—for all of us!

So keep your ego out of it—and you’ll find YOU looking at yourself in a new light.

Dr. David L. Thomas, LMHC

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Thomas is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with a practice in Tampa, FL. He has been counseling people with depression, anxiety, stress, and more for over 21 years. This article, along with many others, is posted at www.stressgroup.com He is also the co-author of Quit Smoking-Be Happy!—see www.quitsmoking-behappy.com to learn more.