At the mention of "Ego", we often imagine this puffed-chest, smug-looking man (somehow it's stereotypically man), swaggering around with a "my way or the highway" sorta attitude. In our current time and age, we are often cautioned against our own ego, so much so that it is often viewed as a character flaw. Or, even, as how Ryan Holiday famously wrote, Ego is the enemy.
You would have probably heard plenty about the need to keep our ego in check, learn to be humble, be receptive, etc. This is not such a post. In this short post, I hope to raise the importance of ensuring that we have a healthy relationship with our ego and why this is especially crucial in ensuring that we lead fulfilling lives. Let's being with the why: why is our Ego important?
The crucial role of Ego
Ego did not always have such a negative reputation. In fact, a quick search on the meaning of ego yield this definition: "a person's sense of self-esteem or self-importance" — Oxford Definition. If you happened to be more philosophical and dabble with psychology, then you might have come across this other definition: "the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity."
As you can see, there is no suggestion of any relation with the negative outcomes that we commonly associate with the term (e.g. arrogance, stubbornness, snobbishness, narcissism, etc). In fact, I would argue that it highlights the very importance of the concept of "identity and self-esteem"!
Relooking at our relationship with Ego
Since our self-identity is closely related to our ego, we need to have a "healthy amount of ego" within ourselves. We must allow ourselves to tend our ego as we learn more about ourselves and give ourselves the care and attention that we deserve. We should not be afraid to explore and define our values or shy away from sharing our opinions.
Yes, as of all matters in life, the key is about striking a balance. As the title of this post goes, I feel the need for us to relook at ego — less like a solid, unwavering block of self-importance and more like a delicate fuel that helps keep us going.
I am sure that you have days that you felt like you can do every and anything, but also times that you feel utterly down and defeated. Even the most egoistic person on this planet would have moments of self-doubts. Therefore, I view ego as fuel — one that fluctuates based on our actions and circumstances, keep us going through life events and when unattended, may blow us over.
The bad rep that got associated with ego is due to the few domineering figures with unchecked and overfed egos. An OVERFED ego is characterised by excessive self-importance to an extent where one's concept of self is placed above everyone else's. In fact, since our ego fluctuates, it is common for all of us to, at times, have a little too much (or too little) of it. There would be moments that we ignorantly passed insensitive remarks or unconsciously positioned ourselves above others. After all, to err is human and the more important action is to recognise and learn from these moments and take the appropriate follow-ups.
Ego is NOT the enemy.
As such, I hope that we will all see ego as an essential which we have to carefully and lovingly tend to. Do not be afraid to, at appropriate times, feed it and let it grow to a healthy level! With a healthy amount of ego, we can stand our ground in the face of adversity, respectfully deal with external influences and ultimately, live the fulfilling life that we are proud of.
Our Ego is our companion.
A healthy amount of Ego is what we need to take off!
Happy to show up here with the second post! Did you check out the previous post on Getting Started? If you did, hope you are also making progress with your initiative (let's work on it together)! Share your comments below should you have any. Thanks for reading and see you in the next post!