Ego Traps That Block Our Freedom and Personal Growth

Ego Traps That Block Our Freedom and Personal Growth
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

Ego traps cut off our happiness. Because this essence of our being is never satisfied, it anesthetizes us with its demands, its fears, and its tricks. It leads us to an insane attachment until it places us in an eternal comfort zone where nothing happens. We must be able to sanitize our ego to make it that extraordinary psychic tendon that favors our freedom.

When we talk about this psychological dimension, we often get lost in its definitions. Sigmund Freud defined ego as that entity that is forced to negotiate almost daily with our impulses and social standards. It also used to be that structure that we could rationalize and balance through personal work. However, if we look at Eastern or spiritual approaches, like Eckhart Tolle‘s, there’s a slight change.

In the latter case, ego is a type of unhealthy self-consciousness that’s magnetized by selfishness. It’s that inner strength that you have to know how to control, educate, and redirect.

Be that as it may, both in the Freudian approach and the oriental philosophies, there’s a common axis on which we can base ourselves. We need to educate our ego, modify its impulses, and remove that unhealthy scab to make it something more luminous, useful, and in tune with our personal growth.

Knowing ego’s traps is undoubtedly the best thing we can do to become aware of many of its dynamics. Let’s look at them below.

“Your ego can become an obstacle to your work. If you start believing in your greatness, it is the death of your creativity.”

-Marina Abramovic-

Girl with tied up butterflies symbolizing ego traps.

The ego traps

The key to well-being, which promotes realization and an authentic sense of happiness, is balance. Therefore, there are those who venture to say that to achieve it there’s nothing better than to put your ego on a “diet”.

We should do the same thing we do with our diet. Often, we fall into those unhealthy diets where saturated fats end up inflaming and bloating us. Thus, far from being satiated, we experience more cravings and hunger.

The same thing happens with our ego. The desire for praise, recognition, approval, or power inflate a false self-esteem that’s always hungry. You have to build muscle and exercise your psychological values through humility, determination, and psychological flexibility. Hence, it’s essential to identify the recurrent ego traps in many of us.

  1. I want to always be right

There are people like that. To them, it doesn’t matter that evidence against them is as strong and solid as a ten-story building. There are those who, under any circumstance, moment, or condition, always want to be right. They don’t hesitate to deploy the most varied (and harmful) tricks so that the scale always tips to their side.

Their ego in these circumstances doesn’t help anyone. It’s a bear trap that we need to know how to recognize and limit.

     2. Why don’t people act as I want them to?

In a way, all of us have experienced this same sensation. We feel despair when people we appreciate don’t do or behave as we expect. Wanting those who make up our closest circles to always act as we wish isn’t just an ego trap. It’s also a source of suffering.

Ideally, in these cases, we shouldn’t condition ourselves. We should limit ourselves to be and to let others be. Respecting and even appreciating that others act according to their principles and desires is an act of personal growth.

Man carrying a bird house on his back.
  1. Always feeling like something’s missing

I’d be happier if I had a bigger house. If I could save a little more, I could buy the mobile phone that this particular brand released. If I had a loving partner who treated me like a treasure, my life would be perfect…

When we look closely, we can see that the feeling that something is missing is imprinted in our society. We never feel complete or satisfied. We always lack something. We always crave that thing that, if we were able to possess, would offer immeasurable happiness. However, when we achieve that goal, the satisfaction goes away soon and we put our hopes into another thing, another dimension, or another person.

  1. The need for approval

We all need to feel accepted. At the end of the day, we move in social settings where coexistence is always more fluid and meaningful if there’s acceptance among us. Now, as we indicated at the beginning, balance is the key. Feeling accepted is good. However, obsessing over having other people’s approval isn’t healthy and it puts chains on our freedom and personal fulfillment.

Sometimes, we must put our ego and need for recognition on a diet. It should lose enough weight so that we’re able to make decisions without thinking of other people.

“Egotism is the source and summary of all faults and miseries.”

-Thomas Carlyle-

  1. I feel inferior (or superior) to others

Ego traps aren’t designed solely through abuse or through the egomania of the person who wants more, who feels like they’re above everyone else, or like they need more than anyone else. Feeling as if we lack something can also satisfy these personal growth pitfalls.

Feeling inferior to other people, perceiving that our every effort is futile when the rest of the world surpasses us in almost everything, also makes us suffer. Because anorexic egos also make our minds sick, limit us, and turn us into blurred shadows.

Therefore, it never hurts to remember that personal integrity also requires an ego that’s able to protect itself without falling into excesses. We also need a centered, strong self-esteem that knows how to validate itself and, in turn, respect others.

Woman looking in a broken mirror.

To conclude, ego traps take away our dignity and self-esteem. They’re that little man who lives inside us and who likes to poison us with false needs, with a constant I want that, I’m missing that, I can’t stand that, I hate that…

Therefore, let’s learn to silence that annoying voice. Let’s manage to identify its tricks a bit better and be able to readjust its dynamics so that they’re in our favor. Your ego should never be an obstacle. It should be that humble, wise, and centered ally that helps you grow a little more each day.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.