Having an ego is like giving a homeless man a piece of bread and then walking around with a flashing neon sign that says, “I helped a man out today!” Egotistic people are relentless attention seekers. Whether it’s good or bad publicity they’re getting, it doesn’t matter to them as long as there is a crowd waiting and a good show to put on.
In many ways, egos come from people with great pride. Whether it’s self-importance, a superiority complex or just complete and total arrogance, it is from that vice that egos are born. You can tell pretty easily that having a big ego, whether you can help it or not, is not a good thing. It’s like being sick, and having people immediately turned off by your presence: friends stopping in their tracks as soon as they see you and then running off in the other direction; people dodging your conversations and answering questions with as few words as possible. If you’ve noticed that you have the tendency to be egotistic and want to change that, don’t worry. Thankfully, egotism isn’t incurable. Pride can be wiped away and humility can be learned over time. Here are five simple steps on how to do that:
Step 1: Remember that you are not God’s gift to mankind
Let’s get things straight. Are you a king? No. Are you Albert Einstein? Probably not, are you, perhaps, a god? Not in this lifetime. So is there a reason for you to think that you are the greatest man alive? Remember that there are probably people who have done far more outstanding feats than you. So what if you gave a hungry man a piece of bread? There are people who have fed hundreds of the hungry across the globe. And if you do happen to be one of these people, then remember that you are definitely not the only philanthropist out there. Save yourself the embarrassment of having to explain your claims to someone greater than you and realize that you are not as wonderful as you seem.
This is the first out of five steps, and truthfully, it is the most difficult, especially for those who have already established this kind of attitude. You can’t just condition your mind to think of yourself less but as time passes, humility earns its way into your heart.
Step 2: Make a List
Take a pen and a piece of paper and divide it into halves. On one half write all the things you like about yourself. On the other half, write all the things that you don’t. Be honest. Don’t leave the second paper blank. In order to complete this step successfully, you must be willing to accept certain things that you may dislike about yourself.
Doing this allows you to pinpoint the different aspects or traits you possess that other people have noticed and you, in your egotistic state, have not. Read the list over and over again. Accept the bad things, but focus on the good ones. This exercise is NOT to put you down. Instead, it is to help you realize that nobody is perfect, and neither are you.
Step 3: Join a group. Meet new people.
It has been noticed that those who are naturally proud tend to show their egotistic side to groups of people that they have become comfortable with. Knowing others’ strengths and disabilities proves to be an advantage. It’s also less intimidating to assert yourself as a leader to a more familiar crowd.
If your big ego has cost you a few friendships, then it wouldn’t hurt for you to start over with a new group of people. The first time you meet up, keep in mind the mistakes that you made with the last set of friends you had and try to correct them along the way. Meeting new people is like having a fresh start. You don’t know them and they don’t know you. Take the opportunity to practice humility by getting to know the other person first. You will thank yourself for the experience and so will your old friends when you get back to them with a new you.
Step 4: Volunteer
Doing volunteer work is great for suppressing your ego. Whether it’s helping out at the local hospital or tutoring kids after school, it’s in doing things for others that you REALLY learn to be humble. It might take some getting used to, especially for those who haven’t done it before. But volunteer work can actually be really fun. Sign up to do it alone so that you won’t have to be conscious in front of people that you know. The anonymity may be unusual to you but its all part of the learning process. You’ll begin to realize that the satisfaction in doing things unknown is far greater than that in doing things when you are praised. Helping out the less fortunate can soften even the hardest of hearts. It allows one to step down from the throne of pride. You become thankful for what you have, instead of believing that people should be thankful for having you.
Step 5: Listen more. Talk less.
This fifth and final step is simple enough. Listen when others talk. Don’t interrupt them. Hear them out and really understand what they’re trying to say. It’s difficult for the naturally talkative to do this, so if you can’t stifle the need to talk, then make sure that the next thing that comes out of your mouth has nothing to do with yourself. Ask other people questions about themselves. Be genuinely interested in their lives. You’ll find that in many ways, their lives are much more interesting than yours and you will begin to recognize that you are not as amazing as you thought.
As easy as it sounds, if you’re after shrinking your ego, going from proud to humble is not an easy task. It would be wrong to say that it can be done in a snap. It takes a lot of preparation and self-evaluation. This may take weeks, months or even years. Nevertheless, it CAN be done. Remember that humility is not in thinking less of you, but it is in thinking of yourself less.