My ego is so big that I took a photo of it last-last New Year’s Eve and it’s still printing.
My ego is so big it wears a blue dress and people mistake it for the ocean.
My ego is so big that when it fell in love, it broke it.
And ain’t that the truth?
Lately, I’ve really been thinking about all the relationships I’ve let my ego call the shots in: I’ve dated people because my ego told me to. I’ve broken up with people because my ego told me to. I’ve created enemies because my ego told me to.
This year, it’s time to let go of my ego. I’d prefer to be the one in charge, thank you very much.
If my 17-year-old self were reading this, my 17-year-old-self would say to me, “Everyone tells me what to change, but nobody tells me how to change. I hate you.”
I get it. We all want to grow. Nobody knows how.
One tip that I CAN pass on to my 17-year-old-self, however, is the power of a motto.
Raised as an agnostic, I privately called this concept a “motto,” long before I learned that some religions refer to this as a “mantra”; others as “prayer.”
Here are my general steps for using a motto:
1. Live your life;
2. Get angry or upset over something due to the fact you’ve been doing #1;
3. Repeat the appropriate motto to yourself until you can move on to #4.
4. Follow the motto.
My very first motto?
“Let it go.”
As a depressed teenager, it got me through moments of anger, sadness, heartbreak.
Essentially, the mottos below are more nuanced versions of that one. I pick and choose accordingly. I keep ’em short and sweet so I can remember them.
SIX mottos for my times of need in 2015, so I can be an authentic and loving person, not an egomaniac
1. “Don’t personalize it.”
Everyone has their own reasons for acting negatively. Most of those reasons have nothing to do with me. So I’m going to stop questioning my relationship with every single person I encounter who happens to be in a bad mood.
2. “Now you know you can get smarter.”
My ego wants me to think I am the most amazing ___________ that ever lived. I am so amazing. I am so great. Gee, I feel so good about myself now.
Unfortunately, with the billions of people out there – in the scheme of the world’s population – I’d actually fall on the “mediocre” to “below average” end of the spectrum in whatever that skill is I am so proud of.
Whenever reality hits me, and I realize that I’m totally mediocre at __________ (writing, dancing, making conversation), I can’t let my ego’s destruction take me down. I can use that harsh reality check to keep on trucking.
3. “Inside-Out, not Outside-In.”
I want to experience my life from the inside – what do I feel and think about others? – instead of experiencing it from the outside – what do OTHERS feel or think about me?
This helps me focus on my task, and takes away the distraction of other people’s evaluation. For example: instead of thinking “I want people to think I’m smart” (this is an outsider’s perspective of me) I will think, “I want to be as helpful as possible” (this is an internal goal that will help me direct my energy).
4. “I am beautiful.”
I am beautiful because I believe I am.
I do not want to rely on other people to say this to me in order to believe it is true.
5. “What do I need to learn from this?”
Jealousy is no stranger to me. I get jealous of people who are best-selling authors of books that I truly believe suck, people who are oblivious to their skin-color privilege, and people who’ve grown up seeing healthy family relationships role-modeled all around them.
Mostly, these people never ask for my jealousy. Mostly, these objects of my jealous rages don’t know me from a piece of gum stuck to their shoe.
So why do I do it? Since I can’t yet control my jealousy, I can at least learn from it.
What do I need to learn from it? What lesson is waiting for me?
The more I ask this question, the more I find: a need to belong, a desire to be remembered, a quest for safety, knowledge, love.
6. “Write your story.”
We write our story before we leave the earth. I also write (literally) my stories. I want to actively write my story, not let my story get written for me by sitting back and passively letting things happen.
THOSE are my six mottos for 2015. Steal mine, or write your own. They work. I promise.