The word ego is used a lot in our everyday language and the ego is written about regularly, mostly in a negative light. I would like to address this here with my idea about ego being neither positive more negative, simply a part of our Self. This article also emphasises that being more aware of your ego could help you develop and grow, and help you reach your goals, because its usually ourselves (our fragile ego's) that get in the way of reaching our goals.
We all have an ego – that is, the view we have about ourselves, the part of us that we want advertised to the world. It’s the outer layer of who you are. It reflects the way you like to see yourself, and the way you want others to see you. Its made up by your mind as a way of trying to make sense of things, and to gain security.The Ego is neither positive nor negative. What matters is how you use it, and whether your ego is helping you or hindering you in reaching your goals. This is one of the questions I frequently address with my clients – is their ego helping them or not?
You create this view of yourself from the way you interpret your experiences. Thus, the ego you construct may accurately reflect reality, or it may not. It’s hard for you to tell, because you can’t actually see your ego, and it’s hard to tell the difference between what the ego sees and what is real. So its really up to others to give you feedback about how in touch with reality you are, which is not easy to hear even at the best of times, because we all tend to get defensive when we don’t like what we hear about us. For example, you want to see yourself as popular amongst your friends. So it would be difficult to hear anything to the contrary. The person with the fragile ego does not accept information that doesn’t fit with his/her view of him/herself, and when he/she feels threatened will defend him/herself, despite what the evidence says.
Anything that comes from the world that does not fit your view of yourself can be discarded by your ego, and anything that fits your current view can be accepted. It can be difficult to change your behaviour, when your ego being stubborn. You can create a world that is completely removed from reality to satisfy your fragile ego. The thin person thinks they are fat. The powerful person thinks they will never die. The old person thinks they are young. The rich person thinks everyone wants what they have. The annoying person thinks they are popular. This list is endless.
All conflict arises as a result of two different views clashing. So someone tells me I made a mistake at work last week. I will get defensive and won’t believe what I am hearing, at least at first. I think this can’t be true, because it doesn’t fit my view of myself as someone who is very competent. When I am given evidence that I did make a mistake, even then I might not accept it if my ego is stubborn (or fragile) enough. I may want to blame others, blame equipment, lack of resources or blame anything I can think of to avoid accepting this truth.
But as the saying goes, the truth will set you free. Accepting the truth will set your ego free – free from the competitiveness, judgments and comparisons that haunt a fragile ego. The fragile ego gets caught in extremes of feeling inferior and superior, depending on the situation. Its a very insecure state to be in. A freer, stronger ego does not get caught up in this judgment, comparison and competition, and thus takes feedback a lot less personally, less seriously, and with openness. Only a person with a strong ego can accept new information and adjust their view of themselves accordingly, because this view isn’t so rigidly held or defended (which is what someone with a fragile ego does).
Another area your ego distorts reality is when you rate yourself, such as filling out a questionnaire about you. If, for example, you take a personality test for an online dating site, you are answering the questions according to how you want others to perceive you. You are then matched with others who have similar profiles – that is, other people who also want to be perceived the same way. Do you see the problem with this form of matching people? It’s a very simplistic and unreliable way of matching, because it just matches two similar egos! Those people may not get along at all, or they might…. just like it would be if you met someone randomly.
Being able to accept your strengths and weaknesses, and where you fit in the world, shows a strong ego. You are no more (or less) special than anyone else, although you are unique. When you are happy with your insignificance in this vast universe, its a good sign you have a strong ego.
A person with a fragile ego attempts to hide any weaknesses, pretends to be someone that are not, and promotes this image as much as possible. That means a person who talks about him or herself a lot, promoting their ideal image. Unfortunately this person just comes across as self-centered. And the more time and effort they spend promoting their ideal image, the less they actually develop psychologically. This explains how some people can have high confidence and low self-development. A person who thinks they are always right is an example of high confidence and low self-development. Another example is if you are confident because you have lots of money, status, beauty and power, you might feel better than people who don’t have the same degree of money, status and power. But you end up expecting to always get your way, because you have money, status and power. You end up becoming frustrated and angry every time you don’t get your way, which probably is regularly. This is another form of a fragile ego at play. The fragile ego thinks you are special (because you have money, status, power, beauty) and expects to be treated that way. Anything limited edition, exclusive, or V.I.P sells well to people with fragile egos.
So ego is not bad, but a fragile ego can create conflict, stress and relationship damage. A strong ego generates far more collaboration, compromise, and peace. So it helps to be aware of how you view yourself, and when you do feel fragile, take steps to strengthen that part of you that might have taken something too personally, or not let a mistake go, or who judges way too harshly.
Let me know what you think of this blog, and if you have any questions, or want me to explain something further let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like learn more, do make sure to check out my Thrive Learning Program course which can help to improve your quality of life.