What’s your “red flag” word?

After a recent presentation, a listener approached me to say my talk had been helpful to her. Otherwise, she admitted, she wouldn’t have been receptive to the subject matter.

She described how she would have rejected the whole topic as “weird.” The way she said that word revealed to me what purpose it serves for her.

Or, more accurately, for her ego.

I have found it invaluable to become aware of red flags that indicate my ego is inflamed.

Assuming there is no truly offensive component to what you’re being presented with, an especially strong negative reaction to something can help you see that you’ve taken it personally. Your ego has become deeply engaged.

If it weren’t, the response would be more along the lines of, “it didn’t really grab me,” “I had trouble understanding it,” or “it’s just not my taste,” without the need to condemn.

My personal favorite red flag is “stupid.”

It almost always indicates that my ego has felt the need to attack or reject something that isn’t really that important.

The real key is to recognize the energy behind the word or phrase.

It is often a powerful and disproportionate expression of judgment, alienation or hostility that allows you to dismiss or try to feel superior to something by which you feel irrationally threatened. Ego can show up in a lot of other ways, and for a lot of other reasons, but I find this version particularly valuable to become conscious of.

Red flags can offer you the choice to discontinue traveling down the path of negativity.

They also can suggest that there is something very charged about the subject or situation you feel the need to reject so passionately.

The more you catch on to the tools and strategies your ego uses to disguise and drive you away from threats, the more you give yourself the opportunity to sabotage its attempts to sabotage you.

How will you work with your ego this year? What red flags come up for you when you read this post?

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