5 Ways Your Ego Is Stopping You from Growing Your Personal Brand
There is a lot of things that need to be set up, considered or kept in mind when you start building your personal brand. Many of those take a lot of time and effort but they are still comparatively easy to do.
Things such as choosing the right fonts or colour schemes for your overall brand, setting up a website or social media accounts and, most of all, a shitload of planning are usually the first necessary steps to take. They are also the most fun and enjoyable part of building a brand.
To grow your personal brand, however, it’s absolutely crucial and unavoidable that you put yourself out there. You have to show up to build an audience and then you have to show up for that audience if you really want to grow more successful. This part is usually where things get hard.
Technically, creating products, services and larger scale content such as blog posts and videos requires a lot more work and time than just picking up your phone and going live on Instagram for half an hour. Even the fun things such as the aesthetics of your brand and the entire planning process are far more time consuming than just quickly posting a story or an update on social media.
Nevertheless, for a lot of us it feels a great deal easier to do those things than show up online on a regular basis. Have you ever wondered why that is?
The thing is that putting yourself out there in front of others goes against your ego. For that to make sense, I have to quickly explain what the ego actually is.
The ego is a false sense of self that has been cultivated over the span of your lifetime. It’s your image of yourself. Everything you think you are, everything you think you can or cannot do, everything you associate with yourself is part of the ego. Whenever you want to do something that either goes against your ego or that would put you in a vulnerable position where your ego could get attacked by others, it will try to stop you.
That sounds fair enough, doesn’t it? Like, it’s keeping you from dangerous situations and from getting hurt. The thing is that all types of change in your circumstances or personality are seen as threats to the ego, even the positive ones. You can think of the ego as a biological mechanism. Our biological structure is composed in a way that follows one primary goal and that’s survival. First and foremost, it wants to keep us alive.
In that sense, what it means for the ego is that if I have lived through today with all the skills, personality traits, circumstances and mindset I have, I’m likely to live through tomorrow as well. Anything that would change my current composition would be a potential risk. Therefore, all types of change – even growth – are considered life threats to the ego.
Now what does that have to do with building a personal brand?
Well, as I mentioned before growing your brand will take a whole lot of stepping up in front of an audience – a highly vulnerable position for your ego. You have to understand that your ego is extremely powerful because it’s been there with you your whole life. Whatever the ego presents to you, you already believe.
Whenever you put yourself in such a vulnerable position, your ego will come up with fears and limiting beliefs to stop you. Of course, all of those fears and blocks are completely made up, just like the entire self-image that you have created of yourself within your ego. They will, however, feel real to you. Very real and very true, so it’s necessary to be aware of this and spot the ego when it starts acting up.
Below I have composed a list of 5 ways the ego uses fear and limiting beliefs to stop you from growing your personal brand. If you know that you do any of these, you will have an easier time to recognise that they are not real problems – they are just ego.
1. You have a hard time choosing and overthink the smallest details of your personal brand.
This one is a very common setback when you start out on your personal brand journey. You overthink everything you do from the fonts and colours that you use on your website to the way your voice sounds in a podcast recording.
The only thing you ever achieve with this, however, is procrastination. You know that you won’t grow your brand faster by using a lighter shade of pink for your YouTube header, but by putting yourself out there and uploading consistent quality content. Still, it’s important to have a nice, professional looking header, isn’t it?
This is the dangerous part about these limiting tendencies – you think you’re doing something important. You think you’re doing relevant work while, in reality, you’re just procrastinating on doing the things that will actually make a difference in your growth.
People who have a hard time making decisions and overthink irrelevant things a lot are usually just scared of failure. The fear of failure is in reality nothing else but fear of judgement or fear of embarrassment. I go into more detail about this in the next section.
2. You worry too much about what other people might think of you.
Now, this one is obviously textbook fear of judgement. A lot of what the ego is composed of is you in relation to other people. Potentially embarrassing ourselves in front of others is the most common fear we have when we set out to do anything publicly.
Your ego has literally been constructed so that you would fit in in society. All of your quirks and shortcomings, as well as your unlimited potential have been masked behind a veil of plausible excuses, so that you either wouldn’t have to feel bad about who you are right now or desire to be much more than you know.
So, when you’re met with a difficult math problem at school, for instance, and you just can’t be bothered to figure it out – either because of sheer lack of interest or because you’d rather be doing other things – you develop the belief that you’re just bad at math. It’s a socially accepted excuse for failing at this subject. Every future math problem you have is met with this belief and where you could have put in more effort, you just don’t have to anymore because it’s being taken care of by an excuse that won’t lead to complete embarrassment in front of others.
Whenever you encounter fear of judgement, it’s probably because you’re doing something out of the ordinary. Think about it. If you did what you always do, what everyone else you know is doing, there would be no reason to fear what other people might think of you. There would also be very little opportunity for growth and greatness, which you are most certainly meant for if you are reading this article.
3. You constantly compare yourself to others.
To keep you from changing, your ego has to continuously make you doubt that what you desire is possible for you. It will repeatedly come up with reasons why you are not capable of growing because it wants to keep you in a state of inferiority where you won’t take any action. One of the easiest ways to do that is to compare yourself to others, usually people more successful than you at the moment.
Comparing yourself to others does one of three things that are very much in line with your ego.
a) You start to feel like what you desire is not meant for you. So, you stop pursuing it.
b) You start to make up excuses as to why you’re not as successful as those people instead of focusing on yourself and your own growth.
c) You start to imitate, copy or impersonate those people, which leads to a loss of authenticity – super important for growing a personal brand – and eventually, to a state of dissatisfaction with who you are and what you do.
Even when you compare yourself to others in a way that you appear superior to them, you’re not doing yourself a favour either. You end up with a false sense of success measured in nothing but being better than someone else. What is that really worth?
Remember that you’re not in a competition with other people, you should always aim to be better than who you were yesterday. It’s the only person worth flexing on.
4. You consider yourself to be a perfectionist.
If you know me or follow me on any of my social media, you’ve probably already heard me say this before: perfectionism is the best-dressed ego trap.
Perfectionism is very similar to overthinking the smallest details about setting up your personal brand. Only that it’s happening at a much larger scale. If you consider yourself a perfectionist, it means you actually belief that there is one perfect way to do something. You believe that there is a point where something will look, be or feel perfect and you aim for that goal.
I’m afraid, but perfection is unattainable. You might be able to score a 10/10 on a BuzzFeed quiz or a 100% on a university exam but most things in life do not come with such clear parameters. Most things in life depend on other people’s point of view. You can build and tweak the aesthetics of your website as much as you want but there will always be someone who just doesn’t vibe with your brand. You can write, speak and dress in ways you believe couldn’t possibly offend anyone and there will be someone taking offense in how boring you are.
Perfectionism is just high-level procrastination. In my opinion, it’s even worse than binge-watching your third Netflix series in a row and scrolling through social media as if your life depended on it. Why? Because a perfectionist doesn’t even realise that they are procrastinating.
As a perfectionist, you genuinely believe you just have high standards. You think there’s nothing wrong about going for perfection because after all, you just want to get the absolute best results. You might even feel proud of it. In reality, you end up without any results because reaching for “perfect” means you’re just setting yourself up for failure from day one. The only thing that will get you somewhere is action but a perfectionist might never even get to that point.
5. You often worry about the future after success.
The ego often uses the past and the future to keep you distracted from what you can do right now. Regrets about what happened, worry about what might be are very common setbacks for a lot of us generally in life. Worrying about what might happen once you actually grow your brand successfully to a certain point can be detrimental to your growth.
If you’re someone who often wonders about things like increase in taxes once your financial situation changes or time management issues once you have dozens of clients lined up to work with you, you might be struggling with a fear of higher responsibility. The ego takes your current self who obviously has never dealt with any of those things and imagines it in a future after reaching the desired growth goal. It creates the fear of not being able to deal with the responsibility that your growth will bring with it. The ego doesn’t rationalise, it doesn’t remind you that the growth will happen gradually and you will take it a step at a time. It just simply projects you into a future that your current self would have a hard time dealing with and it creates fear.
This fear leads to hiding behind one of the four points mentioned above instead of doing work that you know will get you places. It leads to you holding back on your true potential and possibly never really going all in on your dreams and desires.
So, are you guilty of any of the fears and limiting beliefs above? Don’t worry about it, we all are. These things take work but they are surprisingly easy to overcome. As I wrote before, at first, it’s important to notice them when they come up. It’s important to be able to tell when a fearful thought comes from the ego because then you can immediately tell that it’s not true. It’s just made up by your own mind. You have to remind yourself over and over again until that becomes a part of your self-image too – this is why affirmations work.
The next step is to have courage to do it anyway. All of which you are scared, do it anyway. Have the courage to step in front of people and potentially be disliked by everyone. It’s very unlikely, but even if it happens, you will survive. Not only that, you will probably learn from it.
Luckily, courage is like a muscle, you can build it. Do small tasks that require courage every day. Before you even know it, it will have become second nature to you and some bigger things you would’ve previously been fearful to do will suddenly feel like a walk in the park.
Those two things – spotting the ego mindset when it shows up and gradually building the courage to do it anyway – will already make a huge impact on your self-growth journey, as well as the growth of your personal brand. Now go flex that courage muscle and kick those limiting beliefs where the sun don’t shine, girl!
By Camka Sarvan
Camka Sarvan is an ego mindset coach and blogger who made it her mission to help her clients overcome limiting beliefs and master their egos. After graduating in 2016 with an English degree, Camka knew one thing and one thing only and that's that she was never going back to uni. She spent two years self-searching and discovered that the only thing standing between you and who you really want to be is ego. Camka then spend another 7 months learning as much as she possibly could to pinpoint how the mind works and what role exactly the ego plays in it. This year, she launched her business where she guides people to spot their ego mindset and break through all kinds of blocks in lightning speed.
Camka's ultimate life goal is to get over 100 years old, live on Jeju island and plant and grow her own orange trees. Until then she is determined to create a world of less ego and more purpose. If you want to find out more about Camka and what she does, head over to her Instagram where she posts daily content that is the perfect mix of educational, funny and zen.