Yes, Together We Can
by (Capt) Ravi K Mahajan
32. EGO - ARROGANCE
Call it misplaced sense of Self Importance or False Pride, EGO is Bad and Negative. It is a Road Block to your Progress & Growth. Shun it.
EGO is a small three letter word but, unfortunately, plays a very strong but negative part in most people’s lives. Ego can be defined as ‘Misplaced and exaggerated sense of self importance and false dignity’ or ‘Ego is the false pride you feel about yourself, when you feel you are cut above the rest, because of your pedigree, better education or material possessions’. In other words, through your Ego, you create distinction between you and others. Ego is selfish feeling that ‘everything is about me and for me’.
Having pride in yourself is good in some cases, as they teach in army, because there pride elevates you. When in army, it is said that you should take pride in yourself, here pride means, you are responsible, caring, compassionate, honest, and upright. You can take pride in your heritage, culture, country, upbringing, but not at the cost of others. You never look down others, but, in fact, respect them and look them up. Ego is direct opposite of all this. Ego is meeting unrealistic desires about self, about trying to be centre of attraction and attention, where ever you are. Such cravings often lead to greed, jealousy, envy, hatred and one-up-man-ship. All this is accompanied by an inner feeling of insecurity and distrust in others. An egoist is disharmonious where he is.
Ego is, where pride is coupled with arrogance. For example, being proud of your material possessions, which you have and others don’t or ‘I own latest car, better & bigger house’ and things like that, is what is EGO. It is the one-up-man-ship, which one brings in while looking others down. Here pride means ‘I shouldn’t be inconvenienced’ or ‘treat me well or differently than others. Do you know who am I’ or ‘my wishes must be taken care of, but how others are treated, is not my concern’ or ‘what doesn’t concern me, is none of my concern’. More you feed your ego, hungrier it gets. Because of the intrinsic sense of insecurity one carries about oneself, an egoist unfairly seeks attention, love and appreciation for himself where ever he is.
If you see someone carrying more baggage than his capacity, you can always see the pain bearing expression on his face. Incidentally, same is true of any Egoistic person. You can always make out from the facial expression, his bearing and how a person conducts himself, whether he is an egoistic person, carrying that extra baggage and that extra baggage is misplaced sense of self importance and false dignity, his ego. This person is mostly unpopular, unpleasant and emotionally volatile.
Ego makes your life and life of all those who are in touch with you, your family, friends, staff etc., miserable. Even those who come in contact with an egoistic person, while on duty, find it extremely difficult to handle or deal with him. An egoistic person is only concerned about his likes and dislikes, never caring about others’. A respectable person, usually, commands respect, but an egoistic person, demands respect. Through ego, he tries to distinguish himself from others.
An egoistic person has hard time forgetting the injuries, he might have received from others. He neither forgives, nor forgets. For him, his will only should prevail. But he forgets easily, how much he has tortured or injured the other person. An egoist is totally self centered and would never care or have a feeling for others. He is also a perpetual beggar. A beggar is looking alms while an egoist is looking for attention. He wants to get noticed and recognized. Ego is the mother of arrogance and all sorts of complexes which hinders the person’s true growth and development.
Root cause of ego is perceived superior knowledge and wealth, which makes him totally selfish, with predominance of ‘I’, ‘me,’ ‘myself’ and ‘mine,’ in his behaviour and attitude. As and when their wish is fulfilled, they are quite happy, never caring what has happened to others. This breed is not only selfish and self centered but also shamelessness is their creed. Hence an egoist is never at peace with himself or society. He wants to see his image in everything, both in his action and other’s reaction.
One place where this tribe is abundantly seen is on airplane or airports. The moment you stand in any queue, be it for luggage, check in counter, security or in the aircraft, egoistic breed shall stands apart, because they want to be treated like a VIP, loose temper at the smallest pretext, will be irritable, argumentative, throw their weight around and will behave as though, showing small courtesy or tolerance for the overworked airport staff, is a big crime. Inside the plane, on smallest pretext, they shall be rude with the cabin staff and feel offended if there is slight delay in service. Often, it is common to see, fellow passengers being totally embarrassed by their discourtesy and selfishness and at times mean behavior.
Our small time politicians are another common breed of egoistic persons. Reason is simple. Most of them are low in education, consider civic sense or common courtesy, a marked human weakness, have come up in short period by questionable means or through brute muscle power and have power or influence disproportionate to their known intrinsic qualities and capabilities and like to browbeat anyone into submission, except their masters in politics, because it is with their patronage, and delegation of power and authority, that they have become what they are and can survive. Their knowledge of right or wrong is very limited, but they always ensure that they are on the right side of powers that be.
Because an egoistic person always has that misplaced sense of self importance, he is always at constant conflict with himself and others, and is invariably irritated, impatient, arrogant, stubborn and dissatisfied with every one. He wants the world to move as per his whims and fancies. Since, they are always selfish and self centered, they are considered untrustworthy and undependable. They can never be good team players and exhibit poor upbringing. Their capacity to think beyond ‘I, me or myself’ is almost non-existent. Since they have lived with that kind of ego for years, mostly since their childhood, their ways become indispensable part of their life and it is very difficult for them to get out of it, even if they try which they hardly ever.
A person with high ego, always thinks himself to be more important than others, above everyone else. He also thinks that whatever he says or does, is the best way and must be accepted by others as such. He would go to any length, relevant or irrelevant, to prove his point. This is done at the cost of others, most of the times. It is very difficult for such egoistic people to make meaningful and happy long lasting relationships. No wonder, they are always stressful and ill tempered, taking refuge in their anger mostly.
I remember a small anecdote, once told to me by my younger brother who lives in Solan, Himachal Pradesh (HP). As a school lab and material supplier, once he took a truckload of material to a school in interior of HP. Since the school was little away from the road, on his request, headmaster sent few elder children with a teacher, to lift the material to the school. All the children except one, willingly lifted whatever they could, and walked towards the school with the load. My brother found the teacher, having himself lifted some material, in argument with one student, who was refusing to lift any material. My brother was shocked to hear that student telling the teacher, that at home they have many servants doing such jobs, then how teacher expects him to do the same thing in school. My brother told me that area was predominantly apple growing and most of the apple growers had been making good money and had become nouveau rich in a short period. This child, obviously, belonged to one such family.
Let us analyze this boy. He was between the age of 4-14 years and came from a nouveau rich family. At home, his parents themselves must be considering such jobs as menial, to be done by the servants only. Parents, obviously, had never told the boy about humility and dignity of labour. The boy was not a team player and considered himself above every other child who willingly carried the load. He was least cooperative with other children of the same village. He was arrogant, disobedient and stubborn, since he was not obeying the teacher, knowing fully well that the teacher cannot do anything, because he came from a rich family and teacher from a poor family. This small child also did not have any shame that all other children had picked up the load, but our friend, was walking with them with his hands in his pockets. The boy, at this small age, considered himself not only cut above all other children from the same neighborhood, but also considered himself above the institution and felt no loyalty to it. He never considered that being student of the school, it was his duty also to put in his bit like other children. Least of all, this child was not a team player and would prove to be a poor team member in any team, arrogant, uncooperative and uncaring type.
Now, please go through the first few paras of this lesson again and compare the boy’s conduct with what has been written about the Ego and Egoistic persons. Without fail, he will be one of those types. Unless something is done drastically about such children, they shall be a failure in forming meaningful relationships and most likely, would have serious problems dealing with people and situations. Unfortunately, if he has other brothers and sisters, he shall not only have problems maintaining good relationship with them when he grows up, but also, if the apple orchard has to be divided between brothers and sisters, this boy would create havoc with his parents and other family members wanting more share than the others. God bless the family.
Ego is often about our belief system terminating into arrogance that I am and my viewpoint is right and others are all wrong. It is not only that we do not want to change but also that we do not want to listen to a contradictory viewpoint. We give more weight to a viewpoint than to person itself. We must understand that views will always differ but human dignity and value must remain unchanged above everything else. We must not try to force our views on others over human dignity. Clash between the viewpoints always destroys relationships and dignity but we should never let that happen.
What do we do to get over this false sense of self importance and false dignity? Again, as parents, it is your duty not to let above happen to your child. Encourage him to be humble, giving and helping type, understanding others’ problems and point of view, reach out for other children and be a team person, be flexible and tolerant of others. The children, first should be encouraged to Lead by example and get rid of ‘I, me, mine and myself’ and then encourage the child to adopt ‘We, us, our and ourselves,’ instead. Encourage him to mix with other children, sharing his eats and toys and always goading and laughing and smiling with other children. Undo whatever you have read in first few paras of this lesson.
Put yourself to test, whether you are an egoistic person? If so, then start working on shedding your ego. Develop an attitude of learning and listening. Life is a continued learning process which should never stop. Every moment in life is a process of learning. From a smallest child to the most intelligent person in the world, we have to learn something. An egoistic person thinks that he knows everything. Who can teach him? Consider that you know nothing compared to the vast ocean of knowledge which exists in this world, is one way of shedding your ego.
Fostering an attitude of listening, will enhance your patience, tolerance, self control, love and respect for others. A good listener is more popular than a good speaker. To shed your ego, visit an old age home. Listen to the inmate’s stories, their problems. No one has time to listen to them. But you just listen and see your ego quotient going down and happiness and satisfaction quotient going up. By such actions, you will feel great inner strength, tranquility & serenity inside you.
Do something for others without expecting returns. Developing an attitude of caring-giving-sharing-helping would help you a great deal in shedding your ego. Sacrifice something you crave. Love without expectation of return. Love God and His creation. Bring in the changes in yourself, you have been wanting in others. Spend time with children, not necessarily, your own. Play with them, talk to them, listen to them or just be with them. You would, then, become a better, more likeable person, a magnetic personality. Now ask your family members, friends, those you care, if they see and admire you as a changed person or they liked your earlier personality.
As explained above, Ego is false sense of pride we take in material possessions and wealth, we have created or accumulated, considering us ‘rich’ and others ‘poor’. Sometimes such sentiments boomerang badly on us, from our own kith and kin. One day a rich Dad took his only son to the nearby village to show him how poor people live. They spent the day on the farm of a ‘poor’ family. On the way home Dad asked his son ‘Son, did you see how poor they are? What did you learn?’. The thoughtful son replied ‘Dad, we have one dog, they have three. We have a pool but they have river. We have lanterns at night but they have stars. We buy our food while they grow the food. We have walls to protect us, they have friends. Thanks Dad, for showing me how poor we are’.
World is so beautiful without Ego. You shall feel so light, when you shed that extra baggage which unknowingly, you have been carrying. Do not be under any illusion about yourself. Remain and develop connectedness with beautiful worldly things like stars, the beautiful sky, the sea, rivers, birds, nature, beautiful flowers and million of other things. Simply, get out of the shell of Ego which you have encompassed yourself in, earlier. Where ever you are, become a personification of patience, exhibiting calmness, tranquility and coolness. Broaden your outlook and embrace the whole world and all His creatures. Thus, become the best and most likeable person around, in your own eyes.
Simplify your life and encourage others to do so. Do not try to be clever, because if you try to be clever, immediately, others would be on guard and you would find it difficult to deal with them. Try to be fair and selfless to gain people’s trust. You cannot change the whole world, but concentrate on changing yourself. Create an egoless personality for yourself by being good, embrace goodness and spread goodness. You will see goodness only comes back to you. When you have shed your Ego, that extra baggage, it will be a new wonderful feeling, which you have been missing since eternity.
In last fifty years I have observed and can be emphatic that ego kills a person’s natural life and talent. Ego destroys the person because ego sucks charm and joy out of life. Person does not know it because of the familiarity factor, since he knows only to live that way, a tense miserable existence. Egoistic person is very easy to be picked since he is selfish, he does not mind or knows how much he has hurt others while even if he feels little hurt, he creates havoc. He only knows one way, which is his way. At what cost or hurt to others, he does not considers his business. In one breath, he says many things. He is most unpredictable and inconsiderate to others. He is very obstinate to have everything to his liking. If you know anyone who fits above description, shun his company right away because such people would badly let you down any time.
When people trust you and depend on you, they shall follow you. Ego makes you blind with envy, hatred, unsupportive and unwilling to compromise, which does not make sense as a way of living. Just do the opposite and see for yourself how you are treated and accepted by everyone else. The feeling is holistically great and worth the effort you have put in, shedding your Ego. Do not waste your life in being a servant of your ego. Instead, be supportive and cooperative with others, help & give them, share with them and see for yourself, how your life changes for good.