Managing Ego: Know the difference between Ego and Self-respect

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.

Managing Ego

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.

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16 comments on “Managing Ego: Know the difference between Ego and Self-respect

  1. Very well said — “In ego the associated feeling is of insecurity and fear”. Its very difficult to detach ourselves but sooner we learn it, the better it is for us and everyone around us.

    One more thing I have observed is – its very easy to fool people with big ego, coz once someone starts massaging their ego, their brain goes dead !! 🙂

  2. Ego=1/Knowledge—–Einstein , so until we known the system thoroughly ego exist according to our knowledge…….best solution to control ego is gaining knowledge

  3. It’s really a challenging topic to put it on the paper. But it has been explained quiet simple way. Great !

  4. attitude is an egg of ego……..bt peoples uses them as they want to be use.
    in my point of thoughts….both things are a fictitious, and In real both things didn’t exist….

  5. Ego to me is that I am everything…My “I” prevails …If we let our “E” of every thing Go we are left with Humility….Self Respect is confidence with Humility…..
    one Example is that our Pope practices Humility with confidence….So big difference betwean Self respect and Ego…..this topic may be discussed in its entirety…. all the best.

  6. Sir, Well explained and informative. We have to monitor our self against the symptoms of ego like in-securities, fear, anger, irrational behavior, blockage etc. to avoid the victimized of it. All the best and pls keep on sharing good thoughts …:)

  7. Great article. In my view, a good way to manage ego is through the power of choice. Denouncing or the act of detachment leads us to being more attached. The answer here is acceptance. We understand that there exists ego and self respect/love in us and we choose to operate out of the latter and not former. Moment by moment. This enables us to experience peace, balance and joy.

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