Do You Have an Ego?
The first time I recognized my ego for what it truly is I was standing inside the dojo. Sensei Nick was teaching me how to punch the bag for the first time. I’d never even looked at a pair of boxing gloves in my life so imagine my surprise when the first punch I threw was weak, had bad form and didn’t make that loud snap noise Sensei Nick always makes. Looking back, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised.
After about 2 minutes of trying to throw some combinations, I threw the gloves off and stormed out of the dojo. I was mad. Mad at myself, mad at him, mad at the world. Why couldn’t I hit the bag like Sensei Nick? It didn’t make sense to me. I felt stupid. My ego told me that I’m athletic, good at sports and I was going to be a pro at kickboxing the first time I tried and if I’m not, I’m worthless.
I couldn’t believe it when Sensei Nick joined me in the car, looked me in my eyes and said, “you have to let go of your ego.” Excuse me? I’m insecure, I don’t have an ego. “Well, same thing.”, he said.
Deepak chopra says the ego is our self image, not our true self. It’s built by our judgements, misinterpretations, and the opinions of the world around us. The ego is a false self, the person you think you are. It can lead us into sticky situations, like conflict and disappointment. The ego clouds your consciousness and prevents you from experiencing the world as you truly are.
This is a tricky concept to fully wrap your mind around if you’ve never touched it before. The ego tells us the story of our life that leads us to see ourselves as separate or different from those around us. Ego is the voice that tells us our worth is determined by outside sources. The voice that tells us the more we have, the more we are. It tells us to compete rather than collaborate. It tells us to lie rather than be honest, with ourselves and others. Ego is the enemy, inside and outside of the dojo.
My ego had me believe a story, one where I shouldn’t have to be a “beginner” at kickboxing because I’m already an athlete. In the past, most things came naturally for me so this should too. A pretty arrogant idea, right? I closed myself off to learning, persevering and discipline that day because of my ego. Three things we value and attempt to foster in the dojo. I closed myself off to being a beginner, one of the most exciting spaces to be in.
Recognizing the Ego in the Dojo:
So what now? How do we even know when it’s there? Eckhart tolle says you are not your thoughts, beliefs or understandings, you are the awareness of them. Sit with that for a minute.
The first step is to start paying attention to our thoughts, what stories are they telling you about yourself? In our last post we talked about mindfulness and gave some quick tips on how to sprinkle a little more of it into your life. Mindfulness can help us bring ourselves into the present moment and can help us be more aware of our thoughts and feelings. Click here to read more.
Then, challenge these thoughts or stories.
How to challenge the ego with a karate practice
- Be honest with yourself about the things you’re good at and ESPECIALLY about the things you’re not. Our goal is to become the best person we can be and to share that progress with others. True self evaluation is necessary to becoming the best version of yourself.
- Let yourself fail. Practice the things you suck at. It’s easy to get in the habit of practicing the things we find fun and the things we excel at. The things that allow our ego to thrive on the idea that “I’m the best”. It’s in practicing the things that make us question our abilities, our strength, and our discipline that allows us to truly question our ego and begin to discover our true selves.
- Always stay a student. You can’t learn anything when you think you already know everything. This came directly from a book I’m reading “ego is the enemy” by Ryan Holliday. Every single person, even the white belt standing next to you, has something to teach you.
Joining our dojo family to start challenging your ego is easy, just schedule your introduction to karate or fitness kickboxing by calling 613-234-5000 or sign up online!