At work, home or in general conversations, ego is a term that we use quite often. Everyone has an ego, some have more and some others have the ego at harmful levels. The ego is our own sense of identity–an identity that is self-constructed and is a combination of manifold feelings or beliefs rather than a single entity. It is also believed to be a dynamic part of one’s personality.
Sigmund Freud defined ego as being “a coherent organization of mental processes”.1 To put it more simply, the ego is the ‘I’ within us all—the thing that we call “our self”, comprising our feelings, emotions, fears, joys, sadness, anger, irritations, weaknesses, strengths, perceptions, etc. Researchers call this the ego identity.2
The ego also decides how we act in a situation so we feel more useful or wanted.3 Dig deeper and you will realize ego is that need to feel special and appreciated. On the flip side, it is also a feeling of lacking. Which is probably why many of us believe ego to be a bad or negative thing or an emotion that should not be encouraged much.
What Happens If There Is Too Much Ego?
Generally, having too much ego is believed to be a problem. When ego begins to control you and you lose control over it, you become arrogant, brash, overconfident, bossy, hostile, etc. Such egotistic people are difficult to deal with both personally and in a work environment.
An egotistic person is also believed to be someone with an inferiority complex. The fear that their lack of knowledge, wealth, power, etc. will be revealed motivates them to be brash and arrogant. Like studies have shown, a healthy sense of identity gives the individual a sense of well-being whereas a poor sense of identity leaves the individual lacking. By that same coin, the ego identity is not merely the fact of existence, but the quality of existence.4
How Do You Know If You Are Egotistic
While the world is quick to judge an individual as egotistic, if you know how such a person behaves, you will know if you are really egotistic or not. Here are some habits of a person with an inflated ego:
- Complains frequently
- Argues and fights with others
- Is defensive whenever criticized
- Is self-critical, speaks badly about themselves
- Has a hard time apologizing
- Is very impatient
- Is judgmental of others
If you have any of the given habits, then you also probably have trouble controlling your ego—in relationships, especially. Remember, however, that we all do these things from time to time, and it is quite normal. But creating an awareness of this behavior within ourselves and being able to tame the symptoms and use it to one’s advantage is how we can control our ego.
Tips To Reduce Ego
Now that we have understood that the ego is an essential part of our being but needs to be kept in check, let’s look at how we can do that.
1. Always Right Vs Always Happy
Most relationships are destroyed when one or the other person feels the need to be always right. Like someone once said, “you can be happy or you can be right”. This is especially true in close relationships. The need to always win an argument or a disagreement can cost you your happiness, your peace of mind, and ultimately, your relationship. You need to overcome this egotistic nature within you and practice giving up. This does not mean that you have to give up on every argument or fight. It is about learning to recognize danger signs that you or your partner/friend may be getting hurt because of an ongoing argument and deciding to give up on the fight.
2. Tolerance And Contentment
A person with an inflated ego is easily offended. In order to defeat your ego, you will need to consciously practice the art of tolerance. You will have to teach yourself that people are different and have varying perspectives, tastes, and preferences and that none of it needs to be insulting to you or your self-worth. Such an attitude will only come from knowing your true self and worth. This is where contentment plays its part. When you learn to be content with whatever you have, when you understand that you have all that you need and that the rest is superfluous, you learn the skill of contentment. Contentment leaves you with a feeling of calm—a highly useful tool to combat an ego problem.
3. Overcome The Need To Be Better
An egotistic person assumes, correctly or incorrectly, that he is better than anyone else. Such an attitude creates a change of behavior that may not be acceptable to the team or the people you are interacting with. In such situations, one needs to overcome such feelings of superiority and the need to be right all the time. The sooner you realize that you need not be better than or superior to everyone else and that there may be others who are smarter, prettier, stronger, or faster than you, the better it is for you to get rid of pride and ego swelling within you. And once this realization takes seed within you, you can convert your feelings to bettering yourself rather than competing with others.
4. Practice Meditation
One of the first steps to help an individual reduce ego is by practicing meditation. Meditation takes you into yourself to reveal your “self”. It can help you become aware of your ego and its demands. It is believed that by just being aware of your ego, you can control it. Remember, meditate to free yourself, to find yourself—not necessarily to find answers. Once you begin to understand your inner self and its wants and desires, you will learn to control it too. This, in turn, will also help you understand others and thus respond to such outer stimuli more positively and effectively. While this ensures that you manage a situation or a person or relationship effectively, it will also ensure that you learn to overcome your need for prominence or acceptance.
5. Review The Day
Another guaranteed way to transcend ego and be happy is to review the day’s events on a daily basis. Not only will this show you what happened and what you did during each situation, it will also help reveal how else you could have done what you did or did not do. There is nothing more revelatory about yourself than this extremely simple process of self-examination. And it is a guaranteed method for self-control, contentment, and happiness.
|↑1||Siegfried, William. “The Formation and Structure of the Human Psyche.” Athena Noctua: Undergraduate Phylosopy Journal (2014): 1-3.|
|↑2, ↑4||Kroger, Jane. Discussions on ego identity. Psychology Press, 2014.|
|↑3||Sanders, Steven M. “Is egoism morally defensible?.” Philosophia 18, no. 2 (1988): 191-209.|