Friday, 24 October 2014

20 Simple Ways to Challenge Your Ego


  I know I've been missing for a while from this blog. But I promise I'll be back with more soon :)

     So, while I was gone I hardly noticed, but the viewership stats for one entry jumped out among the rest. And that is the "20 Signs You Have an Ego Problem." I certainly didn't expect for it to get the views that it did. So, based on popular demand, I will try to list some simple ways you can challenge that ego to become the humble person you want to be.

    The comments on that post sparked some of my thinking. Some were wondering if having a little bit of ego is good for the self. I think that an important point needs to be made here folks; everyone has an ego. We are all born with one and it defines our existence as human beings. This internal struggle with our egos is where shaytan tries to find his way into your life. Why that's important to know is just because you have an ego, doesn't mean that you cannot challenge and control it yourself. So on that note, here are 20 simple ways to challenge your ego:

1. Be mentally ready to challenge your ego for the right intention:

   Let's face it, everyone is attracted to the humble hardworking underdog and we all gravitate towards being more like them. However, we should be asking ourselves the important question of why do we want to be more humble? If the answer to that question is to please and attract others, then you will undoubtedly fail. I cannot provide for you a secret calculated formula where you can be more humble if the intention of being so is to use it as leverage to be more socially dominant over others.  That is precisely the opposite of being a humble person. Your intention should be to please Allah, because it is He who ordered for us to remove arrogance from our hearts:

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “He will not enter Hellfire who has the weight of a seed of faith in his heart and he will not enter Paradise who has the weight of a seed of arrogance in his heart.”

2. Ask questions even when you know the answer:

    Most of the time, we like to be the expert in conversations. And this is especially true if we have been studying the topic at hand for years and are just itching to speak about it. To be a humble person is to acknowledge that there may be others more versed than me in the subject at hand, and even when there is not, to leave the floor open for others to be empowered and acknowledged. This mustn't be done with the intention of "helping", but with the intention of challenging oneself to be more controlled and to realize that the world will be okay with and without my two cents on the matter.

3. Challenge an expert and let yourself lose the argument:

   We may meet an expert in a particular field and have plenty of questions to ask that person. And sometimes, our feelings of intimidation and our fear of rejection may stop us from asking any. I challenge you to ask a challenging question that initiates an argument or heated conversation, and then to choose to drop out of it saying " I have to go now but I have learned a lot from this conversation and I deeply respect your opinion. I may not agree but I have a better perspective on this matter after having this conversation."
4. Surround yourself with people that don't agree with you:

    It's comfortable to be around those who share the same values as us and who live similar lifestyles. However, how comfortable you can be in a setting where others are opposites to you says a lot about how confident you are about your own values but also how open you are to making relationships with others in a non-judgemental manner. 

5. Give a compliment:

  Give lots of them! And don't wait on it and over think what you'll say. Say it to the person as soon as you feel it. Tell them exactly what you like about them. Compliment them on things you would like to be complimented on and things they would love to be acknowledged by others. Don't hold back!

6. Sacrifice your time and/or money anonymously:

   Don't tell anyone about it. Make it a sadaqa between you and Allah.

7. Visit the underprivileged:

   Acknowledge your privilege and the blessings Allah has bestowed upon you by visiting the underprivileged  and listening to their stories. You may be surprised to know of many who used to be of high status that are now battling poverty and other difficult trials. This will remind you of the fragile nature of humanity and the fact that Allah is the only One who blesses you, and that nothing is a product of your own doing. This will get you closer to Allah inshallah and will humble you further.

8. Never be too sure of anything:

   Avoid speaking in an overly confident manner. Avoid using words such as "never"or "always". Say "inshallah" after every "I will" and remember that your plans can only be fruitful with His blessing and permission.

9. Share something about yourself that makes you feel vulnerable with a stranger:

   Find a stranger and share a part of you that is hidden to others. Don't be afraid of feeling vulnerable and open up. This will free you from caring about the opinions of others and it will shed your guard and image we are used to putting out there for the world. The more you share, the more you will find yourself in deeper, more satisfying relationships.

10. Replace "I" for "we" when speaking:

   Even when it's all you, speak for the group. Avoid pointing fingers and saying "you" when asking for something from someone. And when you present your work, speak on behalf of everyone and say "we did this." I know it may be a difficult concept to grasp, but if you can do this and sacrifice your name for the group, you're well on your way to being a more humble person, inshallah.

11. Ask someone for advice:

  Ask for someones advice. And that someone doesn't have to be a psychologist or social worker. That someone can be anyone. A child, an elderly, your mother or father. Be clear and say "I want your advice on something". Then proceed by explaining why you chose them to be the person who advises you. 

12. Challenge yourself to a one sided conversation:

  When you are in a conversation with a friend or colleague who seems distressed and has a lot to say, take some time to renew your intention and tell yourself that you will only listen and not advise. Help this person consolidate their feelings by being an active listener and letting them know they are heard. Hold back on any comments or advice and you will have accomplished something that will make you feel great and it will foster relationships like never before, inshallah.

13. Have quality time with a child:

   If children don't gravitate towards you, there may be some ego there. I suggest you read this article if you want more on the topic; "Why Kids Don't Like You".

14. Read about a topic you've never explored before:

  Read. Do a lot of reading. The more you read, the more you will realize how insignificant and ignorant we are about the world. We humble ourselves by reading. And we mustn't forget it is Allah's (subhanahu wa ta'laa) command.

15. Show appreciation for people that have helped you in the past:

  Find people who have inspired or motivated you in some way, and give them a call. Let them know that they are special to you and how they have helped you. Oftentimes, we think that our mentors are too busy or too important to connect with us which may not always be true. Connecting with them shows you are willing to put that aside and to step on your ego for a bit to let them know they are appreciated.

16. Take a break from social media:

  Social media is no doubt a festering ground for manipulating our public image. The founders of these networks rely on our human need for belonging and reinforcement that it is almost impossible to be an honest and transparent person through the Internet anymore. Try to avoid having a camera phone around to snap pictures of every moment of your life to share with friends. Live in the moment and share it with no one. You will find this will help you differentiate your private from public life and will lead to a more satisfying time that is based on honouring the present moment and not wasted by doing it just for the sake of pleasing others.

17. Have quality time with parents or grandparents:

  Learn from the older generations and respect their experience and wisdom. Ask them to tell you more about their stories. You will find lessons where you least expect.

18. Pass on your leadership to someone else:

   You've got leadership, that's awesome. But have you got leadership enough to know when to drop it for someone else? Empowering others to take on your position proves to yourself that you are not in it for dominance or power, but for a cause much bigger than yourself. If you cannot do so, then perhaps managerial positions aren't for you and maybe it's best to steer away from rankings and titles.

19. Practice being alone:

  I use the word practice because it's not an easy task. It takes self-assurance and satisfaction to be alone. To be alone is to know that this experience is only one you share with Allah (swt). Once you realize this then you will be comfortable being alone, since you are not really so anyway.

20. Go to an unfamiliar place where no one knows you:

  Blaze an unfamiliar path, find new friends and leave behind your title and accomplishments. Be a new person and you will find what remains is only your values, religion and Allah (swt). What is there more to gain from life anyway?

Best of luck!