13 Painfully Rewarding Ways To Transcend Your Ego (Your first job is to rise above the ego)


Why aren’t you successful yet? Why aren’t you happy?

Why do you not have good relationships? Why do you keep failing?

There’s only one answer — because you get in your own way.

I know it’s dramatic. But, it’s true. Stick with me here.

As Ryan Holiday points out in his book, Ego is The Enemy, most of your problems arise out of your ego.

Whether you’re aspiring to be successful, already successful, or failed in some way — your ego is the cause and the multiplier of your suffering.

When you’re aspiring towards a goal, your false egoic confidence makes you feel entitled. It overestimates the positives and downplays the negatives. Leaving you in delusion about what it takes to get there.

When you’re finally successful, at least in your own eyes, you become ignorant. You think you have it all figured out. You stop listening and paying attention. It’s just a matter of time before you fall back. Ego makes your successes ephemeral.

And at this point, when you fall from a greater height, you feel the pain like never before. You feel pity for yourself. Not only was your ego the cause of your demise, but it also pushed you into an abyss.

This highlights the importance of working on your ego more than anything else in life.

The role of the ego is to bind you to your lower self — to make decisions on the basis of anger, hate, jealousy, competition, pride, position, status, etc.

The ego is a monkey catapulting through the jungle: fascinated by the realm of the senses it swings from one desire to the next, one conflict to the next. Let this monkey go. Let desires go. Let conflicts go. Let ideas go. Just remain in the center, watching — Lao Tzu

The first duty of every soul is to release the hold ego-consciousness has upon it. All other spiritual practices are subservient to this one supreme obligation.

Every religion’s first goal is ego transcendence. It’s the biggest and the only challenge that our soul has to overcome.

That being said, Ryan points out a lot of anecdotes and ways to help you achieve this. And you can get the book to find helpful strategies.

But I was looking for extremely practical and actionable tips that I can apply within seconds.

I found them through various excerpts of Swami Kriyananda. He’s a disciple of Parmahansa Yogananda and the founder of Ananda Sangha — a worldwide movement to help people find joy within.

Apply any one of these tips and you’ll find a greater sense of expansion in your life. True freedom is the freedom from ego.

  1. When people praise you for any reason, don’t accept their praise in your heart. Thank them sincerely, but then give the credit to God. Do so in words if you like, but much more importantly, give Him the credit in your heart. Tell yourself, “God is the Doer.”

  2. When someone else gets the credit for something you’ve done, don’t look for a way of letting people know where the credit really belongs. It would be natural enough for you to do that; you needn’t even consider it a fault. Still, don’t make too much of it. You will find much greater freedom in your heart if you mentally give all the credit to God.

  3. If someone scolds you for something you didn’t do, you may see some good reason for letting him know that you’re not guilty. If it doesn’t really matter who did it, however, you will gain more if you say nothing.

  4. If you see others eager to air their views, be generous to them: let them speak. Add thoughts of your own only if you see that those others might be interested in what you have to say.

  5. Don’t try constantly to explain or define for others’ gratification who and what you are. Let your actions, and your inner reality, speak for you.

  6. Never place yourself mentally in competition with others. The world is abundant. All of us can find what we’re looking for without taking it from others.

  7. Never try, without some good and definite reason, to justify your actions, ideas, or accomplishments. Whatever you’ve done, give it mentally to God.

  8. Stand up for what you feel is right, but try to make it clear always that you are not trying to impose your personal values on anyone.

  9. Try not to tell stories of which the main point is to make you look good.

  10. Make it a point not to feel bad when you make a mistake. Obviously, it would compound the mistake if you insisted you didn’t make it. When you do err, acknowledge the error calmly and cheerfully — if not openly before others, then at least inwardly to yourself. Yogananda used to say, ‘Don’t tell your faults to others, unless they have spiritual wisdom, lest they hoard up that memory and use it against you some time out of displeasure with you.

  11. If possible, don’t even say to yourself, “I made this mistake.” Say, rather, “The mistake got made.” God is the Doer. Give Him the blame as well as the credit for everything. Then try ever more earnestly to attune your every thought and action to His will.

  12. Avoid calling attention to your own cleverness or skill — for instance, by making the kind of bright remark that is almost always followed by a smirk and a glance around the room for others’ approval.

  13. Every evening, as you review in your mind the events of the day, avoid the thought of how you “stood up” in others’ eyes: what kind of impression you made; the words you said; how you reacted; how others reacted to you. Instead, share with God any thoughts of this nature that come to you. Don’t let your mind play with the thought of where and how you yourself fit into any picture. Don’t toy with flattery by entertaining it even lightly in your mind. Reject sternly any thought of self-importance, self-praise, self-justification, and blame.

If you allow yourself to be affected, even minutely, by flattery, to that extent you will be affixing one more iron bar in the prison of your ego. And to the extent that you allow yourself to accept in your ego even the slightest energy, to that exact extent, you will create more bondage for yourself.

Instead, therefore, seek in every way possible to expand your energy and consciousness away from yourself.

Be stern with yourself in this practice, no matter how carefree you may seem in others’ eyes.

A Quick Note on God

You may or may not believe in a higher power that I refer to as God. You may have a different name. You may deny its existence altogether.

It’s fine. Replace the word ‘God’ with ‘Your Higher Self’ and the effect will be the same.

There is a higher self in all of us. That’s what left when the ego steps out. The aim is to with a higher level of consciousness.

Realize the importance of ego transcendence. If you don’t realize it right now, take one of these points and implement it in your life. You’ll be amazed at the results.

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Written on June 21, 2020