In an earlier post, I have written about importance of opening self to the criticism. One of the biggest hurdles for us to accept any criticism is our ego. What is Ego? Ego is our false-self; it is a cover up for our insecurities. Ego leads us to reject other’s opinions which is counter productive for our development. Ego closes our mind and obstructs our vision so that we cannot see anything other than the ideas of our own. Deepak Chopra, a well known spiritual leader, has written – “The ego relies on the familiar. It is reluctant to experience the unknown, which is the very essence of life.”
One big challenge in managing ego is not to hurt our self respect (or self esteem). There is a fine line between Ego and self respect. And there is always a risk of hurting our self respect if we try to restrain the ego. It is for this reason, it is important to understand the difference between the Ego and self respect. The very basic difference is – ego is negative and counter productive while self respect is positive and sign of confidence.
What is Ego?
In my opinion, Ego is the feeling of supreme. It is an attitude of thinking ourselves superior to others. Ego obstructs the open mind as it gives lot of importance to self while rejecting other personalities and point of views.
It is an unhealthy attachment to self; Ego persists because we deeply attach ourselves with our ideas. This attachment leads us to resentment; we resent any thought of making our idea inferior to others. Due to this resentment we show negative emotions while facing a contrasting opinion. We argue, become angry and even try to intimidate to make our idea stand out. We are so attached to our idea that we just cannot see it coming second to someone else’s idea. Let go this attachment and ego will also be gone.
What is Self-Respect?
From above argument, one can ask me. How about if my idea is truly the best? Should not I fight for my idea then or would that also be ego? The answer is – now you know your idea is BEST. The associated feeling is of confidence and self assurance. While in ego the associated feeling is of insecurity and fear.
Let me give you an example – A four year old kid comes to you and says something negative. Would you be offended or take it on your ego? I don’t think so because you are self assured and confident against a four year old. But if a colleague comes to you and say something negative. What happens then? This time you do take it on your ego. What is the differentiator between your responses to these two criticisms? In my opinion, the difference is your own confidence level. You are confident against a four year old but become in-secured when a colleague or boss or neighbor criticizes you. Build your confidence to the level where ego will disappear.
When we are self assured and confident against a contrasting opinion – it is self respect. In this situation we respect our own opinion while giving importance to other opinion as well. But when we have ego then we become in-secured and scared. We close ourselves in a shell thus not respecting other’s point of view. Ego leads us to argument, anger and ultimately to pain and hurt. However, self respect leads us to stability and peace.
The best way of managing ego is to break the unhealthy attachment with the self. This unhealthy attachment does not let us to appreciate other’s point of view. By “breaking the attachment” I do not mean to not respect your own idea. That will be hurting the self respect. Respect your own idea but also listen to other’s point of view. By ‘breaking the attachment’ I meant to detach ourselves from the behavior causing ego. Respect your opinions but not to the extent that you become defensive.