Feb 02, 2022
Right-Sizing Your Ego
Ego, it has a bad rep to it. It has often been associated with being selfish, self-absorbed, and narcissistic. But is ego really a bad thing? And do only men have it?
What is ego? Let's have a closer look at Ego
Ego is how you view your inner self in contrast to others. a way of examining or evaluating who you are relative to the outside world.
What is the purpose of the ego? Ego is a way of defining ourselves. When you say a statement beginning with “I am” that is an expression of your ego because it is focused on your opinion on who you are. So its purpose is to allow you to understand who you are and guide your decisions based on your sense of self.
While the ego operates in both the preconscious and conscious, it can also operate unconsciously.
When do you develop an ego?
The ego begins developing soon after birth and grows and changes throughout a person’s lifetime.
Ego-blending. According to Lewis Yablonsky in Fathers and Sons, ego-blending is the first phase of the relationship between father and son.
“Fathers who relate to the physical and emotional needs of their young sons on a daily basis tend automatically to merge with the sons’ egos and feel with them on a deep emotional level. During this critical phase of self-development a son needs feedback from his father. He looks to his father for approval or disapproval on a daily basis. What his father reflects back to him is the foundation of his self-image as a man. His father is also a most significant mirror for his developing personality.” (p.90).
What’s is the difference between a healthy and unhealthy ego?
A healthy ego is built on core beliefs that are based in love. A unhealthy ego is built on core beliefs that are based in fear.
A healthy ego has strong ego boundaries whereas an unhealthy ego has weak ego boundaries.
Healthy ego boundaries are what defines a healthy ego. These boundaries can expand and open up in response to new experiences, allowing a person to learn and grow. They also remain strong in the face of negative or threatening experiences, keeping a person’s sense of self firm.
Healthy Ego Behaviors
Certain behaviours can signal that a person has healthy ego boundaries and ego. Below is a list of the most common 3:
Confidence in self without believing in superiority.
Able to withstand criticism or insults.
Ability to acknowledge when wrong, but doesn’t hyperfocus or dwell on mistakes.
Unhealthy Ego Boundaries
Ego boundaries for an unhealthy ego typically fall into two categories: too fragile or rigid. Weak boundaries cause blurring of the distinction between an individual’s self and others, often disturbing their sense of reality. On the other hand, rigid boundaries prevent people from having new life experiences or forming new relationships, causing them to have a very close-minded and self-centered view.
Unhealthy Ego Behaviors
There are quite a lot of behaviours that the two types of unhealthy ego boundaries can cause. These behaviours indicate an unhealthy ego, so I’ve listed below the most common three for each.
Weak Ego Behaviors
Adopts personality traits and behaviors of other people.
Fixates on mistakes, can’t let go and move on.
Experiences intense anxiety and toxic thoughts
Weak Ego Behaviors
Extremely stubborn, believes they are never wrong.
Never goes outside comfort zone, doesn’t try new things.
Makes everything about themselves, very self-centered.
Two main theories on fixing an unhealthy ego
Dissolving the ego entirely. People who tout this path often are those who practice meditation or mindfulness. The theory behind it is that you shouldn’t be so focused on yourself, instead, you should be looking outward at something transcendent. They believe the ego has no use since it’s a measurement of self that is given value by comparing yourself to others and can easily be based on inaccurate observations. They conclude that this makes the ego unreliable and a source of perpetual unhappiness.What is ego death? Ego death is when you experience a complete loss of self-identity. There is no ‘you’ or concept of self, there is only existence and awareness.
Building a small, healthy ego. Those who support this view believe that having an ego is important and that we should strive to maintain a small, and consequently healthy, ego. They believe ego is necessary to function in the world so that we do not lose ourselves. To keep the ego small they encourage people to be helpful, kind, and humble. They believe ego can also be a tool to help give you the confidence to explore passions and skills, something that can push you to be your best self. In addition, they think a healthy ego will make you a stronger person who can accept imperfections and love yourself unconditionally.
When we have a healthy ego it’s easier to move through life with a wide-open heart, healthy boundaries and a solid sense of self. A healthy ego is essential for happiness, fulfilment, and resilience.
A healthy ego behaviour can navigate challenging moments in life, sit in vulnerability and not be overcome by fear, and develop healthy emotional connections to others.
It allows us to genuinely appreciate our strengths, accept our imperfections, and love ourselves unconditionally. We cannot avoid, escape, destroy or transcend our ego.
Tune in to our WADT podcast. In this episode, Eugene Chong is returning to provide us with answers revolving around this topic.
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