I can imagine that many of you reading this are asking, what is World Ego Awareness Day? You may even be thinking, with all the other celebrations and days to commemorate various people, groups and events in our life, why observe this one? When I first heard about this day, I must admit that I was intrigued… then again, I have been a practicing psychotherapist for over 15 years.
World Ego Awareness Day is a relatively new holiday, it began in 2018 with the intention to set aside a day to be more reflective of our egos and how they impact our relationships in all areas of our lives. The benefit of having a day dedicated to reflecting on and understanding our ego’s part in how we experience the world can be beneficial in that it allows us to be more intentional with our interactions. It can foster awareness and deepen our connection to our Self.
But truly understanding how to make the most out of this holiday, we need to fully understand the ego and how it impacts our lives. Ego actually is the Latin for “I”. The Oxford dictionary defines Ego:
1) Your sense of your own value and importance
2) The part of your mind that is responsible for your sense of who you are
These two definitions are both worth contemplating on this day. First, we need to understand our own sense of value and importance and how to have a healthy sense of our value to the world without over inflating or undervaluing our importance.
As I was contemplating this day, I was making my way into work and noticed how often I have the thought about someone else infringing on my space, my time… my importance, if you will. I noticed my thinking was making others less important than my own experience. In those moments, my ego is very inflated.
There are also times when we consistently put others’ needs above our own. We often overstep our boundaries; we don’t listen to our internal desires. In those times, we are just as guilty of not having a strong sense of our value, we ignore our importance. That often leads to resentment and burnout, a deflated sense of who we are and a lack of feeling valued.
In either experience, having an underdeveloped or over-inflated ego, a mentality of, “us against them” can dominate. This disconnects us and can create a sense of isolation and victim mentality. Having a strong sense of who we are in the world and balancing out our ego desires with needs with our larger community, we can tap into our humility and create a sense of connection with others with ourselves and with the present moment.
How then can we use this day to keep our egos in check? It starts with simple contemplation. Eckhart Tolle, author and mindfulness practitioner articulates this best:
When you recognize that there is a voice in your head that pretends to be you and never stops speaking, you are awakening out of your unconscious identification with the stream of thinking. When you notice that voice, you realize that who you are is not the voice – the thinker – but the one who is aware of it.
Just as I stopped to notice my thoughts while riding into work, we can all begin to witness how our judgements and expectations of others may be standing in the way of our relationships. When we pause, we become the observer of ourselves and our relationship to our external world. We can begin to recognize the ego’s place and learn to connect more authentically to others through awareness and observing.
So, on this day may you find a moment to just contemplate how you interact with your world and find a way to connect with yourself… the observer of the ego so that you may understand how it impacts your life.
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Oxford Dictionary. (n.d.). Ego. IN Oxford Learners Dictionaries.com. Retrieved
March 23, 2023, from https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/ego.
Tolle, E. (2003) Stillness Speaks. New World Library.