Does Your Childhood Ego Instantly Get In Your Way? And You Don’t Know?

man looking at the horizon
1. Our Adult Self Makes the Same Mistakes
2. What is EGO?
3. Deflection for Defense

4. It’s Easy to Think We are in Control When We Aren’t

5. Decide How To Decide
6. Steps to Decision-Making
7. From Ego, to Decision, to Action

A Story of Ego in Action

Stage 1

On the sidewalks where I used to play as a kid, many things made little sense. There was a daily push and pull with the other kids: trying to win, trying not to lose, and above all, protecting the image. And one day, I was almost blindsided by an unexpected question, when they asked, “Is your Mom pregnant?”

Thinking quickly on my feet, I flatly denied it, like a corrupt politician.

“No. Of course not,” said six-year-old me, quite certain and confident. After all, I didn’t want such rumors to damage my reputation on the all-important sidewalk.

After a couple of days, the other kids finally believed my story, and the pestering stopped.

“Wow this denial thing is pretty useful,” I thought.

Stage 2

All the big people around found it very important to ask for my statements about the upcoming younger sibling. Since this was entirely my plan, of course.

So, like anyone running for election, I took full credit and made sure to give good sound bites.

“It’s going to be a girl,” I said.

“We’re expecting a little sister,” was my platform.

After all, as boss of the family, I had approved this expansion plan, when my parents last year asked me, “Do you want a little brother or sister?”

My parents were very happy that night.

Stage 3

In big projects, the data always changes, and the budgets double.
So it was here, as my parents one day told me that I was getting a younger brother. Shit. There goes my political platform for the younger sister.

How am I going to sell this? And how am I going to stay in charge? With a little sister, it’s easy to be the boss. But with a little brother?

“Hmm this will take some work’, I thought to myself.

So began my new marketing campaign. I crafted a paper welcome hat for the upcoming little guy, with scribbled welcome messages and decorations. My messaging was now updated as well.

“Yeah I’m getting a little brother,” I said quite proudly.

I had barely told the whole school of my new plan when I was suddenly rushed to family friends for an unplanned holiday, and my parents abruptly disappeared.

I quite enjoyed it, as the whole affair was 5-stars. This was really cool, the family and the parents were lots of fun. Why couldn’t my parents be this fun?

They entertained me nonstop. It was all the games I liked, basically no rules, plenty of ice cream (since it was June), and of course, I had a blast.

“We should do this more often,” I thought to myself.

Stage 4

36 hours flashed by, and the 5-star holiday was over. One of my best mini-vacations ever, I have to say.

My dad, quite ebullient and glowing, picked me up, and we drove to the hospital in our giant, creaky Chevrolet Bel Air.

With great pride and delight, he carried me into the maternity wing, holding me in his arms and leaning up to the viewing glass, peering into a room of a dozen squirming little babies. He pointed to the middle of the second row.

There he was, my new brother.

And me, sitting in my Dad’s arms, just blurted out, “I think I love him,” squeezing my Dad for a hug.

The next week, my baby brother was home.

I was super excited to place on his head the new hat. After all, as boss of the clan, I had to knight him and keep myself as boss. And keep everything under my master plan.

There was just one thing…

The hat didn’t fit.

stressed woman calling

Our Adult Self Makes the Same Mistakes

So yes, a fun story, but what can we learn from such childhood stories, and what they can still teach us in adulthood?

We aren’t as grown up as we think we are. And we can make similar judgment errors as adults. Here’s why…

What is Ego?

The term ego is often used to describe the “I” or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing yourself from others and the objects of its thought.

However, we want to think about ego, we need to know it’s a system, not a physical part of our body or mind.

The ego is the part of the mind that directs our actions, as it helps us to deal with and resist our actions. The ego is sometimes called the “me” or “I”.

The ego is an entity in the mind with a “will” to be aware (“conscious”) and to admit to one’s “self” (“conscious of”). The ego controls the motor or body parts; wants to live life, and tries to deal with problems as quickly as possible.

At the top of the defense is the ego, which must keep us from being overwhelmed.

You can see from this brief definition, that the ego doesn’t want to slow down and think to solve a problem. It doesn’t stop for rationality, examining choices, or appraising consequences. It just wants to solve the problem as quickly as possible…the way I did when I was a child.

woman leaning on an entrance

Our Current State Limits Our Perception

When we are adults, reacting with ego-driven actions can lead us into a big mess. Ego doesn’t rely on perceptions. It just wants the problem to go away.

Decision-making is based on our perceptions, enabling us to evaluate situations, consider actions, and estimate consequences.

Plus, we have two impactful life modes that limit our perception:

Our current state of human development – 6 years old versus 26 versus 46, etc.
Our current emotional mode – neutral, angry, sad, happy.

Your Development Mode

As we live and grow older, we have more experiences. Those life experiences provide background for new experiences. We know when our actions worked or didn’t work in the past.

Not only do you have your past experiences to use as a gauge, but now, as an adult, you can widen your knowledge by using the perceptions and experiences of others.

To get an accurate view of a situation, you can speak with other people who have relevant experience on the topic, and ask for their input. Only then can I hope to approach a higher degree of accuracy.

When you have a new experience that is outside of your personal experience, you broaden your perceptions using the experience and expertise of others.

Your Emotional Mode

Your emotional mode—happy, sad, angry, bored—has a powerful impact on your ability to make wise decisions.

You can take advantage of the emotions that naturally arise. When you are angry, you may be motivated to make more effort to make a constructive change in your life. Or while you may be angered by someone else’s opinion, it might not affect you as much, and often in a few moments, you will move on. When you are bored, you may have no interest in anything you are experiencing, and are apt to become passive. But when you are bored, you also have the capacity, at another point in the future, to become really excited about what you can do.

A recent paper in Science Direct, Effects of Emotional State on Decision Making Time, examined the emotional states of college students and their decision-making ability.

The majority of the subjects who watched a happy film decided faster compared to those who watched a sad film, consuming more time in deciding what could be done with regards to the situation given.

Sadness may shape people’s decisions by coloring the content of their thoughts. Along with a negative mood, people’s perceptions, thoughts, and judgments are often distorted, interfering with people’s ability to process information while positive-affect condition showed less confusion among the decision makers having more early information processing in making decisions.

It’s a good thing I was happy I was going to have a sibling because it gave my ego an extra boost in quick decision-making. It doesn’t mean they were the right decisions. I just made them more quickly.

But if you are faced with an important event and need to make a decision, your emotional state will have a potent impact on how you decide to take action.

But first, you may try to make it go away. That’s your ego taking charge.

woman looking out of the car

Deflection for Defense

But wait! Maybe you don’t want to make this decision. It’s too challenging. It might change your life. You might have to take on more responsibility.

Your ego will charge in with deflection. Remember it wants a quick solution.

Deflection is a psychological trait that tries to push responsibility away, usually on someone else. And it comes in many forms.

Here are four deflection examples you’ve probably used without knowing they were deflection actions.

Denial – A refusal to grant the truth of a statement or allegation; a contradiction. In other words, just not dealing with it.

Humor – Express what is amusing, comical, incongruous, or absurd about your dilemma. Trivialize the dilemma by making it a joke.

Do it Later – Your ego playing trickster by making it go away from now until…later. You’ll come up with a million reasons to not do it now.

Defer to Someone Else – Escape from responsibility by letting another person decide, or accepting another person’s opinion. Your ego just told you, it’s not your job.

Denial is often the first reaction and the others are more sophisticated. We think (our ego tells us) that we are maintaining our integrity. But if you use these deflection actions, you are listening to your ego go for a quick result.

It’s Easy to Think We are in Control When We Aren’t

The ego works hard to make things go away as soon as possible.
Your ego doesn’t worry about making the right decision. It wants the most expedient solution. Bang! Done! Back to what you were doing.

Remember: The ego is poised to take care of basic needs, but isn’t very sophisticated in it’s thinking. If you see yourself in any of these deflective modes, question your thoughts. What are you really doing without thinking? Remember, our ego lives in our intuition. It doesn’t want hard work. It can be as easy as a thought. And it wants to do it now.

Your ego would tell you that the solution to whatever you are upset about is to make the upset go away. Your life must be here and now. It must feel good immediately. Living in the past or future is not thinking for the times. It is living in what or where to make the moment go away.

The ego isn’t an executive making considered decisions. It’s a hypnotist. It doesn’t realize it’s going a certain way, but it’s led by intuition on what to do. Your ego is so confident in its abilities that it doesn’t stop to think.

blond man talking

Decide How To Decide

Take your success to a higher level by learning how to make decisions despite your ego’s efforts to do a quick fix.

As a child, thinking I was in control, I didn’t realize I had no control over whether my new sibling would be a girl or a boy, or when it would arrive, or how much control I would have over their life. Of course, the hat didn’t fit.

As an adult, you don’t need to follow your ego’s quick-fix guidance. Your life and career can present significant events that are just as dramatic as a new sibling is to a child.

Should I move? Should I stop renting and buy a house? Should I buy a new car? Should it be electric? Is it time to propose marriage? Should I accept that new job offer? Should I leave the corporate world and become a solopreneur? Should I leave my current position for better pay? Should our business go public?

Steps to Decision-Making

Approach pivotal choices by employing decision-making skills.
The big choice is to decide how to decide instead of letting your ego rush in with the instant solution.

Teach yourself to take the time and action steps you need to make a wise, considered decision.

Concordia University, St. Paul outlined seven steps.

1. Identify the decision. First, you need to acknowledge that you must make a decision.
2. Gather information. You want facts and data. You’ll need to make value judgments on what is important.
3. Identify alternatives. You can’t make a choice until you know what your choices are.
4. Weigh the evidence. Look at the options for feasibility, acceptability, and desirability.
5. Choose from the alternatives. Which alternatives are most suitable to you, your current situation, and your personality.
6. Take action. Create a plan to implement your choice.
7. Review your decision. Evaluate your decision for effectiveness.

And of course, speak with people to get input and feedback: whether trusted friends, online forums, or an expert mentor, getting a broad list of alternatives may even spur you to create your own unique solution.

From Ego, to Decision, to Action

Have you ever had the realization that you’ve been making the same mistakes over and over again? Your ego has the potential to get in your way when you’re trying to make decisions that are in your best interest.
To stop your ego from taking control, decide to decide, evaluate your options, and take action.

At elevanation, we’ve helped students, entrepreneurs, executives, and people just like you make important life-changing decisions. Everything at elevanation is based on empirical data and actual results. So you can get the maximum benefit in the minimum time.

Schedule your free action call to supercharge your life now. We’ll make sure that hat fits your baby.

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