The ego is one of those concepts that sounds familiar, but you may wonder what it really means. At the simplest level, it’s a way of referring to yourself with many positive associations, like self-esteem and maintaining healthy boundaries.
However, when we talk about the ego in daily life, it’s usually because it’s spinning out of control. We laugh at TV characters like Dwight Schrute bossing his coworkers around on The Office, or little Stewie trying to take over the world on Family Guy.
In reality, overestimating your abilities may cause more conflicts than comedy.
Learn more about the ego and how to keep it in check.
Dealing with Your Ego:
- Know yourself. Your ego can interfere with seeing yourself accurately, making it more difficult to learn and grow. Work at increasing your self-awareness. Read books and magazines about psychology. Pay attention to the choices you make and the reasons behind them.
- Listen carefully. How do you handle feedback? Lower your defenses, so you can hear and evaluate input from others. Look for the aspects you can use regardless of how you feel about the source. Thank others for making the effort to approach you.
- Take risks. How did your ego become so powerful in the first place? It’s usually because we try to make ourselves comfortable by clinging to familiar points of view even when they hold us back. Moving out of your comfort zone can be beneficial and liberating.
- Avoid comparisons. Live an authentic life. Focus on beating your own past performance, instead of trying to outshine others.
- Build true confidence. Arrogant behavior can result from feeling superior, or it can be a way of covering up insecurities. For a healthy self-image, be realistic about your strengths and limitations. Set meaningful goals and keep striving to reach them.
- Help others. Your ego can also make you self-absorbed. Turn things around by giving generously. Do volunteer work in your community. Use your network to make referrals and introductions.
Dealing with Ego in Others:
- Remain calm. Interacting with a coworker like Dwight Schrute can be frustrating. Remember that their behavior is nothing personal. Try to see the humor in the situation.
- Stick to facts. You’ll probably make more headway if you keep discussions focused on objective issues. Communicate clearly and directly. Use precise language that conveys certainty.
- Acknowledge others. Someone with a fragile ego may be especially sensitive about being understood. Try paraphrasing their words back to them to show that their message is getting through.
- Ask for help. You both may feel more satisfied if you can take advantage of their expertise. Let them know you value their talents and skills. Cooperate on reaching team goals.
- Provide validation. While you may feel irritated dealing with someone who has a big ego, it’s probably a hardship for them too. You can show compassion and care about their feelings without having to agree with their conduct.
- Advocate for yourself. Keep in mind that validation is different from being a doormat. Stand up for your principles and let others know if they are exceeding your boundaries.
- Seek support elsewhere. Be selective about the company you keep. If you find that someone drains your energy, wish them well but spend more time with family and friends who treat you with the respect you deserve.
An overblown ego may seem like a source of strength, but it actually sabotages your happiness and productivity. A little humility can make you more successful and popular. Take control of your ego to prevent it from controlling you.