The other evening, after I had lectured at a program, I had the opportunity to get to know the woman who had organized it. She was an intelligent, hardworking, yet unassuming individual whose warmth was obvious in her every gesture.

After playing some Jewish geography, she asked if I knew her mother, who is a very wise and well-known speaker. “I’m the quiet and shy one in the family,” she joked.

She then shared with me a beautiful childhood story.

Years ago, her father o.b.m. was driving her to one of her first presentations. For the entire duration of the drive she was telling him how nervous she was.

At first, her father, a very compassionate man, commiserated with her and tried to ease her fears. But as the minutes ticked on and she was becoming even more apprehensive, he finally said, “Do you realize that all your anxiety is coming from your ego?”

“What?” she responded, surprised.

“Of course,” he answered. “The only reason you are afraid is because you are worried about your success. You are apprehensive that you will make a total fool of yourself. It’s really all about your own ego.”

His words had the desired effect, calming her substantially.

Her story made me think, too, of all the things that our egos prevent us from doing.

Aren’t all our fears of failure ego-based? And don’t those fears stop us from even trying? How about our fears of meeting new people, or feeling anxious about how they will respond to us? Or our fear of a new job interview or a new challenge—aren’t those too just our ego asserting itself?

While we know that our egos are responsible for making us arrogant, our egos can equally be responsible for creating feelings of smallness and failure, preventing us from even trying. So, while an ego is important for recognizing talents and strengths, let’s not let our egos get in the way of allowing us to reach our positive goals.

This week at TJW, we explore this concept. Watch our video Make it or Break it, or read our Parshah essays A Tale of Two Wives and Immunity, to gain a better understanding on the role that egos played in the lives of two very different individuals.

In My Special Son, read a vivid personal portrayal of how an egoless life can have such a positive impact.

This week we also feature a calming meditation in our Chassidic Guided Imagery section, to help your mind travel to a place of increased spiritual awareness.

I have filed in my mind my friend’s childhood story, and hope I remember it at future occasions.

Because, the next time I feel too small or too incapable or too nervous, I will ask myself, Is it just my ego?

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW