I don’t think many people truly understand the concept of ego, including myself… It has although, become something I have been exploring and thinking about a lot this year.
I feel people only think that someone who acts quite arrogant/has tickets on him or herself/thinks they’re hot s**t/is a big time gym junkie that spends more time taking selfies than doing bicep curls is someone with ‘ego’.
Yes they may appear to have what we call a ‘big’ ego… But no… we ALL have an ego. So much of what we do (or don’t do) is driven by our ego. And sometimes many people that carry themselves in the almost complete opposite fashion to an arrogant person may also have a big ego.
Your perception of who you are and who you think people think you are is driven by your ego. If you claim to be some sort of person, or you think people to see you as some sort of person, it can create some internal pressure to live up to that perception you have of yourself… or more commonly, the perception you think everyone has of you.
Eg. You were a ‘skinny’ dancer as a teen. That is WHO YOU WERE. Today you aren’t as much… Or maybe it was a perception of you that you never actually wanted… But because you continue to perceive that others see you as this person, or you feel they expect you to be this person still… it causes A LOT of anxiety to try live up to something you are not/aren’t anymore/don’t want to be/feel like you still should be because of perceived pressure from others.
This is your ego… this is a ‘big ego’ just as much as an arrogant person has a ‘big ego’.
If you can manage to keep your ego at bay and just be you, be open, be vulnerable, show your true self… then the anxious pressure to be this imaginary person will reduce dramatically. If you don’t want to be that skinny dancer anymore, don’t, no one wants you to be, or cares, no matter how much you think they do.
I know to some of you reading this that the idea of being completely you, being vulnerable and opening up in all these areas is a terrifying concept and one you are just not willing to do right now.
And that is okay… baby steps.
But if you don’t drop the ego down a few notches then you aren’t going to move forward.
Another example… Thinking you should have lifted heavier or choosing to lift heavier than you should in the gym. You may not realise that it is your ego that is beating you up because you can’t lift Rx’d in a particular workout, when your ‘arch rival’/gym buddy did. You may think you are 100% checking your ego at the door to every class because you support everybody, you are friendly, you try your best, you lay flat knackered at the end with everybody… But you aren’t.
That little voice that is telling you “ohh I should have just done the Rx weight (even though I was almost time capped)” or “damn coach needs to create more divisions of Rx, like Rx-, Rx–, Rx masters 35-45, Rx masters 45-50 just so I don’t get upset about using the word ‘scaled’”.
THAT IS YOUR EGO.
You know through all the educating you are delivered that going heavier than you should is detrimental to your progress and body, and that going lighter will boost your progress. You also know that Rx is just a guide to the intent of the workout, that actual numbers are irrelevant.
But that little voice called ego makes you feel like you should be doing that, because that is who you are, you are the guy/girl that does Rx 80% of the time, and people might see your score, and they’ll judge you for not doing the weight, and if you don’t do it you won’t be the person you think you are perceived to be by your peers.
Sorry ego, this is all a load of “Grade-A baloney” – Veronica Corningstone.
That gym guy that’s always done bodybuilding and is really good at “gym”, steps into a CrossFit gym or tries Jiu Jitsu for the first time, and cannot handle the fact that they have to learn all over again, they are no longer the strongest or most experienced person in the room. They last 1 week and scurry back to the bodybuilding gym where it is “safe” and they can be the big dog again. They’ve been ‘strong’ for so long, and now the threat of appearing ‘weak’ is just too hard to handle.
“If you’re not being true to yourself, if you’ve created a brand or an image that is not you, that is not real. Then you have a constant hustle and a constant grind to actually create that. If you are fearful that you are not going to be able to follow through on what you’ve made a claim of or you’re not going to produce the results that people are expecting, then basically you are going to get a lot of anxiety.” – Matt Legge – Research and Development Director – ATP Science.
If we want the internal success we desire, it is incredibly important to check in with yourself and your ego as much as possible. We will never be perfect, but we can be better. If we don’t, consider yourself in a constant state of feeling ‘under-the-pump’. If you suffer any degree of anxiety, checking in with your ego and your perceptions of self and what you think other perceive you to be is VITAL. You can dramatically reduce your anxiety by working on this.
Strength is not hiding from your weaknesses and putting up a ‘tough guy/girl’ wall, true strength is accepting your imperfections, being vulnerable, asking for help.
In our Raise the Bar Radio chat with Craig Harper, who is quite the wise and spiritual man, he chatted about a conversation he had with his neighbour. He was caught on his moped scooter down the street and his neighbour poked fun at his emasculating set of wheels. All Craig wanted to do was tell him about the badass hog he had parked in his garage, because the neighbour had challenged his ego and perception of self as a ‘pretty cool guy’. Being the wise lad Craig is he managed to refrain, but it still ate him up inside.
Last example… me, marathon, ego.
I just ran the Melbourne Marathon. I completed it. I completed it off plenty of CrossFit training and a very good diet, but off very minimal specific running training.
I did it because I wanted to prove CrossFits’ unchallenged ability to ‘increase work capacity across broad time and modal domains’, i.e the ability to competently complete any task thrown our way, over any length of time and in any form of movement. Which I did. Go me and go CrossFit.
But following the run my wife Courteney suggested that my ego got in the way just a little. She said that I have been going on about ego’s so much lately, if I have such a low ego why did I chose to skip past the half marathon and go straight to the full without ever having done a half before?
I think my intentions to prove a point was right. CrossFit is undoubtedly the clear winner when it comes to a fitness program that develops all-round increased work capacity. But some of my internal motives and ego was certainly there, tucked into the back of my mind.
‘I’m really fit, everyone knows I’m really fit.’
‘I completed Tyson’s 4 day challenge, I can do a Marathon no worries.’
‘I don’t need to do too much specific training because I’m trying to prove something.’
Bulls***, bulls***, bulls***.
During the first 20km’s you ran way faster than planned. Even though it felt comfortable cardiovascular wise it was well beyond what was planned. You even crept up and passed the 3 hour 30 pacer group for a period of time, even though your goal was just under 4 hours.
Your lack of specific running training combined with a strong pace over a distance not covered before resulted in mass muscular tightening in the quads and hammy’s, causing you to slow after the 20km mark, and drastically slow down after the 30km mark, moving over 1 minute slower per km than your initial pace.
I could cover up and just say that it was all to prove a point and I was right, look at me up on my pedestal… But I won’t.
Yes I achieved my goal, yes I am incredibly proud and deserve to be, yes I helped prove what we are capable of in CrossFit, yes I’m stoked my hamstring injury didn’t let me down, yes I’m sure I inspired others, yes I would have cared a little if I didn’t run sub 4 hours but I know I wouldn’t have defined myself by it.
But no, I am certainly not perfect. I made some mistakes along the way and I know they were primarily driven by my ego.
But in saying this… I’m not feeling anxious about it, because I am glad that I can acknowledge those errors and that I let my ego take over just a bit. Because if I hid behind it I would certainly feel some imposter syndrome style anxiety and pressure.
“Don’t fake it until you make it, just be who you are, don’t try to be someone else and just do your thing. And you won’t have anywhere near as much anxiety.” – Matt Legge
We all have an ego to some degree, but you cannot let it dictate your actions to a level that causes anxiety and unnecessary pressure. If you think you are supposed to be some person you are not and it gives you anxiety, stop trying to be that person. If you are perceiving others to think of you in some way, STOP, because they aren’t, and even if they did, who gives a f**k! You are you, that’s all you can be, if someone doesn’t like that, f them off you don’t need them, they’re not doing you any good.
But one time more, if there is no proof that they think this way of you, they most probably aren’t thinking this way, because people have their own stuff to worry about, their day isn’t dictated about their perceptions of you, so why is your day dictated by your continual worry about their possible but unlikely perceptions of you?
If I have learned anything valuable this year, this would be the most valuable lesson I have learned and learned again, and learned again… Check your ego, be open, be vulnerable, be you and you’ll feel far less pressure and anxiety than ever before.
“Just be happy in yourself and who you are and you can make it, whatever ‘make it’ means (to you).” – Matte Legge