As a recovering people pleaser and perfectionist, I still struggle with negative self talk and the false stories I tell myself. Recently I was called out on it, which was uncomfortable as hell! I was putting off projects, relying on others to get things done, and making excuses. I said to myself “I’m not ready!...”I need to wait for so and so’s permission!”...”XYZ isn’t good enough!”
Then someone challenged me by asking, “Is that you talking or your ego?”.
Of course I started coming up with more excuses as to why my thoughts and feelings were valid, but in diving deeper, I realized it all traced back to the labels I put on myself and the stories I believed because of fear. Fear of what people would think, fear of failure, fear of looking stupid, fear of the unknown, and on and on. And ego LOVES fear. Without it, ego cannot survive. Ego is the part of ourselves that wants to protect us and keep us safe. Ego thrives off of our fears by not allowing us to experience change and being uncomfortable. Ego must assert its power over us by feeding into our insecurities. It’s the voice in our head that tells us we’re not good enough, not capable, not worthy.
I used to hear “ego” and think it described someone who is full of themselves. Someone who is overconfident, narcissistic, and selfish. My whole life I tried to avoid this label of being “egotistical”, by being a people pleaser and perfectionist instead. By staying quiet, not stepping on anyone’s toes, by not sharing my voice, and by making myself small. I created a low sense of self worth. And the whole time I was trying to avoid ego, I was actually giving it exactly what it wanted.
When I gave into ego, I ultimately:
closed the door on opportunities
became depressed and anxious
was slow to take action
stunted my personal and professional growth
I created false identities: “I’m a bad public speaker”...”I’m not organized”...”I’m not a leader”...”I’m too sensitive”...”My shyness is a weakness”...”I can’t do it”. But after being called out, I realized that in trying so hard to avoid being egotistical, that’s exactly what I had become. In trying to protect myself from criticism and the opinions of others, I was actually being self centered. My original understanding of being egotistical wasn’t exactly right, because it also meant focusing on yourself above others. By creating these false identities, I was doing a disservice to the people I cared about, and I wasn’t being the real me.
So how did I start the journey of finding my true self? I had to start by asking myself some hard questions:
How do I identify myself?
I am a coach, mentor, and ladypreneur. I am not just a physical being but a spiritual being. I am an introvert and a highly sensitive person which are strengths, not weaknesses. I am a daughter and a wife. I am unique just by being myself and worthy of love.
Where did my false stories and labels come from?
Being bullied at a young age because of the way I looked was the source of a lot of my insecurities and fears. As a female in our society, those insecurities were perpetuated the more I grew up. This manifested into people pleasing, and perfectionism.
How have they protected me?
In wanting others to accept and love me, I shied away from attention. By giving over my power to others I could avoid being bullied.
How have they not served me?
I became isolated, depressed, and insecure. I became stunted in my personal and professional growth because I was afraid to take risks and share my voice. I was untrusting of others and wouldn’t allow myself to be vulnerable.
What action steps do I need to take to break from my false identities?
I had to stop hiding and start putting myself out there. At first it was mainly through online platforms where I could share my stories. In doing this, many people shared with me that they could relate to what I was speaking about, and that I had helped them in some way. This made me realize that by not sharing my voice, I was doing a disservice to the people around me, and to the world as a whole. By being open, I was able to help others.
Was I ready to change?
Although a simple question, this one was the most difficult to answer. Was I ready to get uncomfortable and be vulnerable? Was I ready for the possibility of rejection and people disliking me or my message? Was I ready to face the challenge of shifting my mindset and changing the beliefs I have had since childhood? YES wasn’t an easy answer, but it was a necessary one.
My eyes were opened to just how destructive I had let my ego become. Now I am better able to notice when my ego is wanting to take control, and I ask myself “is that me or my ego?” By starving the ego, and not giving it what it wants, I am better able to feed my soul and discover my true self.