Our world is a projection of us. Often times, we get what we give, which is why it is so important for us to remain focused on giving our best each and every day.
But when the ego gets involved, things can get messy and derail those with even the best intentions. Why? Because the ego operates out of personal motive. Unlike confidence -- which involves having faith in your abilities to handle whatever comes your way -- the ego primarily operates out of one's own wants and needs. It seeks approval, appreciation and adoration at all costs and often results in being incapable of comprehending anyone else's perspective. The ego assigns motive, is not open to feedback and sees insult where there isn't any. All in all, the ego is very ill behaved.
As you might imagine, this path won't take us very far in life. You see, the primary difference between confidence and the ego is that confidence has the ability to move us forward, while the ego will only hold us back. The ego is what's behind our tendency to be defensive and avoid self-reflection. Unfortunately, this kind of mindset stunts personal growth and keeps us from fully learning from the lesson or situation at hand. If we want to grow, we must silence the ego and stop allowing it to take over. The goal isn't necessarily to kill it, but to dilute it in an effort to move forward and be content with questioning it when necessary.
Now, I know what you're thinking -- this is easier said than done. It certainly can be. Releasing instead of feeding the ego will be painful at first. But a bad day for the ego is a great day for the soul and self-growth, so don't be afraid to go there. Here's how we can begin to move past it to reach our fullest potential and live happy:
If you are spending precious time and energy trying to get others to believe you are right, they are wrong or that you should be appreciated more than you are then you've definitely personalized your situation. Focus on what you can do to move forward and add value. Focus on earning respect and appreciation for the right reasons. Take the higher ground, but remain humble in the process. If you point that action out to others, the ego has once again taken over and you lose -- so watch your step and remain focused on the task at hand.
2. Get Neutral and Focus on Next Steps
Put an end to defensive responses or reactions. Defense is, after all, the first act of war. If you find yourself in this position, stop defending. Find a place of neutrality and allow yourself to calm down so that you are in a better position to think clearly and make good decisions. Greet change with a simple "good to know", avoid the argument with the reality of the situation and move onward.
3. Avoid Knee-Jerk Criticism
When someone makes a decision or suggestion that you don't necessarily agree with, search for a common ground instead of immediately pointing out all the reasons why their plan or idea is "wrong". Resistance wastes time and energy that could, instead, be spent on validating and contributing to the effort rather than attempting to block it for self-serving reasons. Consider a plan that could work for the group and even prove more beneficial instead of just being right.
4. Learn and Grow from Feedback
At one point or another, we all receive feedback about ourselves from friends, family or co-workers that isn't necessarily positive. And yes, it can be hard to hear at times. However, we must remember that while the feedback alone won't hold us back, an unwillingness to absorb or act on it does. Be open to hearing the viewpoints of others as well as the possibility that you are not perfect. You might just learn and improve upon yourself in the process.
5. Lead by Example
Wondering where to begin or who to work on? Start with yourself! That's right, you go first. Do your part and do it unconditionally. Often times, that which is missing is what we are not providing. Step up, do the work and the rest will fall into place.
So the next time you find yourself getting defensive or assigning motive to someone's actions or decisions, know that the ego is once again at play. Move past it by recognizing it early and consciously changing your mindset. Be mindful of its limiting beliefs and false sense of reality and release it so you can move forward and see your circumstances for what they really are. Once you've freed your mind and rid yourself of egocentric thoughts, your world will become much clearer and the possibilities will be endless.
HuffPost Lifestyle is a daily newsletter that will make you happier and healthier — one email at a time. Learn more