Is The Ego Bad?
Today I saw one of those inspirational FB images and it brought up a thought that I face every week during counseling. It was titled “Overcoming Your Ego” and listed several steps to accomplish that. From my perspective, the steps were overcoming arrogance, or egotism, not ego and that’s an important difference.
The word “ego” has been used as a metaphysical term to describe the self for centuries. By definition it is:
the “I” or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought. ~ Dictionary.com
A healthy ego, allows you to be who you are as an individual. It also allows you to be you and let’s you respect others for who and what they are as well.
The word first appears in 1714 as a description of the self, the “I” presence or the consciousness of an individual. It’s not until 1894 that Ego becomes a bad word.
Psychoanalytic sense is from 1894; sense of “conceit” is 1891. Ego trip first recorded 1969. – OnlineEtymology
As an abuse survivor and abuse counselor I’ve seen first hand what ego can do. But as with all things in life, the extremes are the problem, not the ego itself.
Too much of anything can be bad for you. A saying I’m quite fond of repeating for just about anything in life. Too much ego makes someone egotistical and arrogant. A person can become controlling, restrictive, abusive and down right someone you don’t want to be around. But too little ego isn’t the answer either, as that creates low self esteem and produces a lack of confidence. The balance is a healthy ego that allows you to hold respect for yourself and react to situations that present themselves to you from a place of dignity, pride and confidence with humility. That with humility is an important part of the healthy Ego.
From a Psychoanalysis perspective Ego is the part of the psychic apparatus that experiences and reacts to the outside world and thus mediates between the primitive drives of the id and the demands of the social and physical environment. ..say what?
We are a combination of our experiences in life and our views of our self. When faced with situations from the outside world, it is our Ego that takes these two components (experiences and views) and formulates a response based on our Id and acceptable measures set by society.
Our “id” is the part of the psyche, residing in the unconscious, that is the source of instinctive impulses. Our knee jerk reactions to put it in different terms. No matter what the situation, when you react from the subconscious level, you are seeking satisfaction, gratification or perhaps even justification. And these reactions are formulated through our experiences and build up patterns in our lives that create the “primitive drives” or better put, those knee jerk reactions.
It also matters where you are with your own level of ego and how you view yourself. That perspective you hold about you, will skew your perspective of others and how you see them. If you lack confidence in yourself, you’re liable to see someone else with confidence as egotistical or arrogant. There’s a fine line between those two characteristics and it may not be held in the one you’re looking at, it maybe held within yourself.
Instead of trying to overcome Ego, we each should be working on building a healthy Ego within ourselves. Believe in yourself and your abilities. Hold yourself in respect and when someone acts with disrespect toward you, allow your ego to stand with confidence and you’ll be able to calmly and maturely say “Excuse me, but I don’t deserve that kind of disrespect”.
Back on June 26, 2012 I wrote an article about Humility & Confidence: What Ego Can Teach You. It goes hand in hand with building a healthy Ego.
© 2014 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D. Springwolf Reflections / Springs Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.