A Story of Ego in Action
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.
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.
Our Adult Self Makes the Same Mistakes
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?
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.
Our Current State Limits Our Perception
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
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
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.
Deflection for Defense
It’s Easy to Think We are in Control When We Aren’t
Decide How To Decide
Steps to Decision-Making
- Identify the decision. First, you need to acknowledge that you must make a decision.
- Gather information. You want facts and data. You’ll need to make value judgments on what is important.
- Identify alternatives. You can’t make a choice until you know what your choices are.
- Weigh the evidence. Look at the options for feasibility, acceptability, and desirability.
- Choose from the alternatives. Which alternatives are most suitable to you, your current situation, and your personality.
- Take action. Create a plan to implement your choice.
- Review your decision. Evaluate your decision for effectiveness.