13 November, 2018
"He is a great ego!" "He is too fragile", "He is selfish," "Let go of your ego to be happy" ... Expressions which we say and hear and that lead us to the notion, that the ego is something harmful. What actually is the ego? And are there people without ego? Why is the ego of some "bigger" than of others? Questions of extremely high and practical importance because our relationship with the ego determines the quality of professional and personal relationships and the choices we make - that is, whether we have a healthy and balanced ego depends on our quality of life!
The ego is part of the structure of our personality. Everyone has an ego. It is about our sense of what we are, what our identity is and where our borders are, where we are and where others start. We are all connected at a global level as cells are connected in one organism, but at the same time different cells are discrete units and have cell membranes - that is, borders. So we humans are connected in a system and at the same time we are separate from others and we have our own individual peculiarities.
The point is not to deny or cling to the ego, but to find the balance between getting in touch with others and being interested in their needs and desires, and at the same time being related to our own needs and looking for good ways to satisfying them. One of the basic human needs is the one for security.
When does a person's ego become "inflated"?
As we keep our house with doors and locks and we do not allow just anybody inside, so does the ego limit us to the things we consider to be ill-intentioned, threatening our security and causing pain. This means that the ego and its manifestations are closely related to emotional fear. The more uncertain one person is, the more unhealed fears and injuries of his childhood he or she holds, the more his internal insecurities will make him include inadequate and sick ways of protection. Often, we say to such people that they have an "inflated ego" or "too big ego".
The other extremity - people who "do not have their own borders" and "allow everyone to step on them" are also people with ill connection with their ego, but in this case, unlike the ones described above, instead of "armoured doors" and "high, inaccessible walls, "around" their home "has no boundaries. They cannot stand up for themselves and their needs, and suffer from non-honesty and lack of respect by other people.
Why is the "alarm system" of the ego in a large percentage of people wrongly programmed and triggered by insignificant signals?
For these people, the "security system" puts a "bumper" between them and the others with the slightest sign that reminds of a situation in the past when the little child who was frightened, hurt, humiliated, abandoned or rejected.
To a great extent, how the ego of one person is built depends on his or her relationship with the parents when he was a child, whether he has been punished and how, whether his parents have overstretched with limitations, or in some other aspect.
If the child does not feel secure, affectionate and respectful of his personality, his ego builds pain reduction strategies. These strategies have worked at that time of the past, but unfortunately, when the man applies them as an adult, they can be highly destructive. The current situation may be quite different from the past, but the "alarm" of these people also includes ego strategies built during childhood (for example, stubbornness, use of lies, distant and cold, hypocritical or aggressive behaviour, bragging, passive aggression, and others), build "Armor" against their closest, or even mobilize them for "war" with the "enemy," and this "enemy" (most of the surrounding) often has no intention of either attacking or hurting. But the inner child of a person with unhealed emotional wounds from childhood feels threatened and this makes him subjective and overactive.
Thus, the wrongly programmed "alarm installation" destroys the possibility of true emotional proximity to others, prevents some other vital needs from being satisfied - feeling affiliated and accepting and preserving love in our lives. The erected doors of the ego protect from the outside, but the inside remains empty.
This happens when we have a disruptive connection with our ego and with our essence, with our soul. In other words, in order to be able to manage our ego in a healthy way, we need to develop skills for emotional intelligence. The ego should be our tool for a healthy and happy life, not our master.
The ability to manage our ego is related to self-knowledge and healing of old emotional traumas, so that we are not subject to fears and anger of the past and the resulting automatic reactions.
If we want to be truly happy and satisfied with our lives, reading books and articles about applied psychology, relationships and self-knowledge, as well as attending trainings and seminars on these topics and building skills for emotional intelligence are extremely important and basic life task.
How can we know that we have a healthy and balanced ego? Here are some defining signs:
• A person with a strong and balanced ego feels not afraid of seeing and admitting that someone else has more knowledge and skills in something. Such a man has learned to admire and not to envy. Unlike the sick ego, which is a real obstacle to learning, a healthy and balanced ego does not prevent a person from learning from situations and people, but from helping him learn from others and improve. The sick and unbalanced ego causes people to compete constantly, to be annoyed by the successes and knowledge of others, and to seek out a way to find something negative in the one that is better than them in something. A man with a strong and balanced ego believes in himself and in his ability to learn new skills.
• A healthy and balanced ego helps a person to stand up and establish themselves, to find their place in the world without the need for pompousness and display of a certain status. Such a person does not need to build an image, an external image and a mask to seek approval and conceal their vulnerability and uncertainty. The man with a healthy, balanced ego is authentic, has the strength and courage to face his own insecurity, fears and weaknesses, and finds healthy, conscious ways to overcome them without the need to put masks.
• A healthy and balanced ego helps one to be objective and to see situations and people as realistic as possible. He senses when he can trust and allow someone close to himself, and when it is good to step back and protect himself. A man with a strong ego is good-natured and at the same time knows when and how to put limits. He also knows how to respect foreign borders.
• A healthy and balanced ego helps one to see himself objectively. A man with a balanced and healthy ego respects and loves himself, and this motivates him to take good care of himself in every aspect - his physical health, his emotional health, his awareness, enrichment of his mind and his inner self world.
• A man with a strong and balanced ego does not attempt to compensate for the lack of self-esteem and deep inner satisfaction with superficial means (over-eating, sex, work, material gains, ostentatiousness) that only temporarily reduce the pain of the inner void and the unsatisfied basic needs of love and affiliation.
• Not afraid to get feedback from other people, even looking for feedback about their reactions, radiance, behaviour. If he thinks he is constructively criticized, he learns from it, and if he feels bad about criticism, speaks openly about it with the other person or distance himself from it when there is no opportunity to improve relations.
• The person with a strong and balanced ego is aware and sincere about how he feels at a very deep level and seeks the reasons for these feelings so that he can act in the direction of improving himself and his life to feel really happy and satisfied.
Such a person has put their personal development as a top priority and proactively realize it: 1. strive to live a balanced and conscious, 2. seek information and learn to regulate their emotions, to open their messages and to cope in a healthy way the emotions of others, 3. develops and uses its potential, and 4. extends its knowledge and improves in building and maintaining healthy and happy relationships with its partner, children and close friends.
Author: Maria Vassileva Dimitrova