Stay Wary of Ego – अहंकार से बचें (March, 2018)
Everyone wants to rise in life and achieve something of value. And when a worthy goal is achieved, often others also make note of it and start to shower praises and commendations. Consequently, apart from enjoying the happiness inherent in the achievement of the original goal, one also starts to enjoy the praises. Even though relishing in the compliments seems like a guiltless joy, it is akin to walking on a slippery slope. If not careful, which majority aren’t, the person soon becomes boastful, arrogant and, in worst cases, completely inconsiderate. The topic for this month assignment is Stay Wary of Ego (अहंकार से बचें).
Let’s start with the understanding of the differences between self-respect (स्वाभिमान), ego or vanity (अहंकार), and imperiousness (मद). Having confidence in one’s own capabilities, qualities, and judgement is self-confidence or self-respect. A self-confident person is an assured person: he knows he can fight against oddities; he doesn’t need others approval; he accepts his abilities and inabilities with a smile. This is a commendable trait as long as the person stays humble and understands – and appreciates – how others play crucial role in his successes. On the other hand, a successful person who considers himself to be a special person and does not appreciate others suffers from a disease called ego. Even though such a person projects a feeling of superiority, somewhere inside, he is not sure of that. He seeks approval and needs continuous praises to soothe his desire to be appreciated. When the ego is not addressed in time, it gets distorted and becomes imperiousness. In this state, the egotistic person starts to feel invisible. He starts to believe no one can achieve successes like him, he can crush any challenges, and he is the special person with special qualities. Often, such a person does not hesitate to disrespect or hurt others.
When a person praises someone, be it for successes or qualities, the receiver feels good. This seemingly innocent pleasure, however, gives birth to ego, which brings with it a large number of blemishes and failures. Here are a few negatives ego brings to one’s life:
- creates misunderstanding
- steals peace of mind
- brings vices
- saps energy
- eats away intellect
- stalls growth
- distorts outlook
Let’s go a bit deep in the above points:
- An egotistic person (also called arrogant in common language) considers himself to be right. He doesn’t see and/or acknowledge others point of views. Others, be it his family, friends, or colleagues, feel uneasy in his presence.
- An egotistic is an afraid person who is always worried that someone will outdo his achievements. Continuous onslaught of such fearful thoughts takes away peace from his life.
- Ego doesn’t come alone in one’s life; it brings with it a load of vices, such as anger, greed, hatred, jealousy etc. In the Indian scriptures, ego is said to be the father of rest of all vices. All these vices start with a feeling of ego/self-righteousness. The more the ego envelops one’s life, the more he gets absorbed in different vices. Often, these vices stay with the person for his whole life.
- Staying absorbed in various vices and useless thoughts takes away vital life energy. For instance, whenever ego is hurt – or perceived to be hurt – one gets angry. Any episode of anger consumes energy and leaves the person devoid of energy.
- It is not that egotistic persons are/were not intelligent, but their intelligence diminishes with thoughts caused by ego. For instance, Ravana, the king of demons, was considered to be one of the most learned and intelligent persons. But when ego grew in his life, his intelligence diminished: he couldn’t see the complete destruction his actions caused.
- A feeling of superiority (such as I know or am better than others) causes the person to stop growing. For instance, in any communication, as soon as a thought comes to mind that the point being stated by others is already known, the mind immediately shuts close – it loses the opportunity to grow. It is not that every word from the other person has to be taken at face value, ego does not allow a healthy evaluation of others’ opinions. It hurts everyone, but the damage of such feeling to a student’s intellectual growth, particularly when such thoughts arise during lectures or discussions, cannot be overstated.
- Ego always seeks thoughts and outlooks that feed it all the time. For instance, looking at and pointing out others’ faults becomes an obsession, for it swells ego. Similarly, ego craves and forces one to look for evidences as to why he is better than others. Entertaining such thoughts ruin one’s outlook.
By now it is clear that ego can inflict havoc in one’s life. But, is ego always as clear that one can notice it easily? No, ego can be visible and invisible. Long before it shows up in one’s behavior, ego continues to grow in one’s mind without any observable signs. That’s the stage where it needs to be nabbed. But, how? Here are a few potent steps:
- First and foremost, do not let praises and commendations get to your head. Applauses sow the seed of ego. Whenever someone praises you for any achievement, say, thanks. Take that honor as a tonic to do even better.
- Always think of what we could do without direct or indirect help from others. Any praises to one’s looks, health etc. must be attributed to his parents; praises to intellectual prowess must be attributed to teachers, parents, and everyone who helped in learning; praises to material successes must be attributed to colleagues, society, and everyone who helped with the growth; and, finally, every praise must be attributed God. The simple act of recognizing others who supported and helped us in our achievements is humbling – and kills ego even before it rises.
- Finally, always remembering the harmful effects of ego [as outlined above] acts as an effective deterrent to ego.
In this month’s article, kids will define ego, damages it causes, and ways to tame it. I am also looking forward to kids augmenting their articles with real-life examples.