A Coaching Power Tool created by Andrea Briscoe
(Life Coach, UNITED STATES)
When ego is lost, limit is lost. You become infinite, kind, beautiful.
Do you know the difference between your true self and your ego? Many people don’t. In fact, they don’t even realize that there is a difference between the two.
Most people identify themselves as simply: me. But this is an enormous mistake—a mistake that is responsible for much unnecessary suffering and emotional pain. It is critical that we acknowledge that our true selves and our egos are separate. More importantly, we must learn to know the difference between the two.
What is the ego?
Webster’s dictionary defines the ego as:
The “I” or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself fromthe selves of others and from objects of its thought. In psychology it is defined as the part of the psychic apparatus that experiences and reacts to the outside world and thus mediates between the primitive drives of the id and the demands of the social and physical environment.
This is true the ego is many things, but mainly, it is the thing that holds us back. It is the thing that keeps us awake at night with worry. The small voice of discontent or “shoulds,” or the feeling of fraudulence that we sometimes feel.
Have you ever felt your spirit soaring and your ego rushes in and highjacks those feeling of freedom and joy? Well if this sounds familiar it is the ego. Have you heard those voices in your head about being a better parent, a thinner person or you should be married or more successful by now? That is ego again.
I can assure you that negative self-talk is a close relative to each and every one of us. And the truth be told, no one can abuse us more than our egos do.
But in thinking about this it becomes far more important to recognize our true and authentic selves. The selves that we are when we truly soar free and Let go, yes Let go of what the ego is selfishly trying to protect and be free to be our true selves.
The Authentic You
Ah yes the counterforce to the ego. The person who sings in the shower, who dances naked and feels the sun on their face. The person who is fearlessly engaged in life. OK so maybe not the dancing naked part, but being deeply engaged in the dreams that are the true you. However you describe this state of being it is a state of being rather than decline. A place where moving forward is the option rather than looking back with fear and anxiety.
Lucy is dynamic up and comer in the corporate world. She has been with AAA corporation, for 6 years and has been promoted almost every year. She receives increased responsibility in her position and is asked annually to look for assignments that will stretch and develop her skills. She lives in the southeastern United States and is asked to go Maine to run a manufacturing team of 150 direct reports. She jumps at the opportunity and loads herself and her young child into the car and relocates to Maine. She arrives settles in and is doing a fantastic job. She is also pleased to find an old colleague Cliff that she began her career with 4 years ago has also relocated with his family from Miami to Maine to support the Human Resource team in the Bangor office. Cliff and Lucy are good friends, their families know each other, kids play together and the assignment is working well for Lucy. She spends time with Cliff and lunch, and after work they sometimes stop off for a drink.
After about 2 months Lucy was brought into the Human Resources office and told that she was being investigated for having an affair with Cliff. Lucy was outraged! She knew that she and Cliff were great friends and that she and Cliff’s wife had often gotten together to spend time and reminisce about the fun times they had shared in Miami. Both Cliff and Lucy knew that the extent of their relationship and these accusations were false. And despite the pressure they felt by having to go through such a humiliating experience they muddled on, knowing that in the end they would be exonerated. Well after nearly 6 weeks of interviews and fear and anxiety, truth won out and the allegations of misconduct were found to be false.
This investigation took its toll on Cliff and he left the company and Lucy finished out her year in Maine and later requested a transfer to New Jersey. Fast forward two years. Lucy is superstar with her corporation and is a current executive coaching client. She said her position, as a corporate director she is called upon to go out with clients and colleagues after work and to play corporate politics. Based on her prior experience with the investigation and loss of her friend and colleague she is hesitant to step out of her protective shell and socialize with her colleagues and customers. She knows this is an expectation and she wants to, but at the same time is fearful.
Lucy discussed this dilemma with me and I asked her if there were parts of her ego that were holding her back. What did she need to let go of to be her true and authentic self again. How could she move from the should state of fear and anxiety into a state of freedom and warmth. She recognized that she needed to move from ego to let go in order to realize her true self.
Lucy and I continue to coach together and it did not happen magically. There was no “poof,” and let go happened in her life. It has been gradual actions – but I am happy to report that Lucy is going out with groups of colleagues and customers and doing a great job letting go of her anxiety and fear.
Self – Application
There is power in know when to make the shift between ego and letting go. Clearly we will also have ego and moments of an ego hijacking will happen more frequently for some than for others. The key here however is self-awareness and recognizing when you are listening to the limiting voices in your mind and then move your thoughts back toward the sunny day dancing – um, in a pair of shorts!
Going slow to go fast also works here. Recounting the day in a journal and thinking about my actions. Was I indeed letting go and being free as an authentic coach with my clients or was I asking questions that were “powerful,” because I thought I should.
It seems that the case study illustrates how the ego although it is trying to jump in and protect us is actually taking away all of our authenticity and getting in our way. As a coach I could see as well as Lucy that she was in a place that she wanted to shift away from, let go of and break free. And through a series of small steps she was able to do so.
- What are you most fearful of as it relates to a particular situation?
- What do you feel you should do?
- What part of that fear/should might be related to your ego?
- If you could envision letting go of that fear how would that look?
- How would that letting go feel?
- What would moving from should to could look/feel like to you?
- What would you stand to lose by letting go of your ego?
- What might you stand to gain?
ICF Competency– touch points
- Establishing Trust and Intimacy
- Powerful Questions
- Creating Awareness
- Direct Communication
Ego is the false sense of self-born out of fear and defensiveness